This passage, Colossians 3:5-17, is loaded! (text provided at end of this article) It is not ambiguous. It is a very clear description of “what I am to be” as a follower of Christ. Put it on!
“The evil longings of your earthly body.” Put this off! As a believer who has been born again and made brand new, I, amazingly (all of us) still have inside of me “the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] “. Put that off!
Paul is saying, ‘Put that off!’ This passage clearly acknowledges that, as long as (we) I am in this earthly body, I have to struggle against those evil, sensual, self-centered things.
5 So put to death
and deprive of power
the evil longings
of your earthly body
[with its sensual, self-centered instincts]
Read it and weep! Inside each of us is this infernal sin nature. You think you got it down? Think again! “Be careful lest you fall”! (2 Peter 3:17; Galatians 6:1) The Bible teaches that even the most mature follower of Christ… will struggle with personal sinfulness till death. Be careful. Be ready. Stand strong.
The two selves are always at war. The Holy Spirit of God is inside us. We have His power and His presence working inside us.
But until we leave this earthly body for new heavenly bodies in heaven — “the old self” (v9) is still a part of our being (our old nature). Ask any wise and self-aware old man or woman!
The Apostle Paul says that we also have a “new [spiritual] self” (v10) inside us (our new nature), inside each who has been born again. The two selves are always at war. Every day, throughout the day and night, I have specific choices to make:
Will I be sinful,
Will I put down, “put to death”
that which is inside of me,
that which is not pleasing to God?
Jesus taught that sin does not come from without, from outside a person. Sin comes from within our very soul.
14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16 [[f]If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]
17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He *said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and [g]is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)
20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, [h]fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, [i]envy, slander, [j]pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” – Mark 7:14-23
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. – Romans 8:22-23
Even Satan cannot make us sin. He entices and tempts. He tries to get us to want our evil thoughts, and deny God. But we are to resist and stand strong:
James 4:7 Amplified Bible (AMP)
7 So submit to [the authority of] God.
Resist the devil
[stand firm against him]
and he will flee from you.
And when it comes to youthful lusts, we are told to not merely resist. We are to flee away!
The only way to become more like Christ – is to actively work at it with God. Resist, resolve, put away…. The Holy Spirit resides in me (us) and is at work inside me (us). But He does not force me. Life is a free will type of life. If I do not exert my will, and put down the “the evil longings” of my “earthly body” (v5), who will?! As has been said – I am the captain of this ship! It’s only me and God at the helm of this ship. Nobody else moves my rudders!
Paul says I must do it. I must “put to death and deprive of power” (v5) that “old self” (v9). Me! I must…. Nothing magic or automatic about it. Mommy does not do it for me anymore! The Holy Spirit does not do it for me! This passage makes me say to myself:
“I (me, myself, and I) must not cop out! Nobody else lives my life! I will make it happen — inside of me. Put it on! (v12) It behooves me to be proactive inside of my self. I can do this – since I have been most undeservedly “[set apart, sanctified for His purpose]” (v12), and filled by His Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; ). I am extremely “well-beloved [by God Himself]” (v12), and He is preparing a place for me in heaven (John 14:1-3) – so why on earth would I not make this happen in me!? I’m soon to be translated into God’s Kingdom — beamed up, as it were. It behooves me (us) to really really focus on me, myself, who I am and how I walk this earth, each day.”
The list here, (v5) of “evil longings” is long. (Enlarge that list from here: Ephesians 4:17-32) Maybe you’ll recognize some of them inside you? What have you put to death inside yourself? The old self has power. But “He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind]” (1 John 4:4). In Christ we are more powerful than our old self, more powerful than the “evil longing” – and capable of resisting the Devil (James 4:7). Sinfulness can be put down inside of us.
“5 So put to death and deprive of power
the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts]”:
immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire,
and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry
[because it replaces your devotion to God] Colossians 3: verse 5
God’s wrath is never directed upon us, as His children. His wrath will never fall upon us– because we have been set free, forgiven forever! But His wrath is due to fall on all “the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts]” (v6).
God does discipline believers, but “discipline” is not “His wrath”. That Day of reckoning, of wrath, will come later, when He judges all “the sons of disobedience”. Now, on earth, He disciplines us to correct and mature us.
If you are one of those who constantly fails to listen to God’s word, and your lifestyle habitually is everything BUT godly… then, you better examine yourself “and see that you be in the faith.” The Apostle Paul says here, “ the [divine] wrath of God is coming” on you, you who habitually practice sin. It is so easy to give in to your evil longings. And soon you find yourself “habitually living in them” (v6-7). But the true believer will not practice sin habitually.
Born again believers can have all kinds of these “evil longings” active. But that is why Colossians was written – to remind us that THAT is not the normal Christian walk. We must resist and “now rid yourselves [completely] of all these things:”
“anger, rage, malice,
and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language
from your mouth.
9 Do not lie to one another”
– Colossians 3:verses 8-9
“immorality, impurity, sinful passion,
evil desire, and greed
– – Colossians 3:verse 5
“for you have stripped off the old self
with its evil practices,
10 and have put on the new [spiritual] self
who is being continually renewed
in true knowledge
in the image of Him who created the new self” (v10)
See also: Ephesians 4:17-32; 1 Timothy 6:9-10
Without Christ the norm is “sinning habitually”. Sinners without Christ cannot NOT sin. (Beware – the double negative!) Paul is saying that, since we now have “the knowledge of Christ” (v7), the believer ought not to live habitually in sinfulness.
Being in Christ, we now have the power of God’s Spirit indwelling us with power — so that we are quite capable of not sinning. Believe it!
“…if you do not do well
[but ignore My instruction],
sin crouches at your door;
its desire is for you
[to overpower you],
but you must master it.”
– Genesis 4:7
We are to constantly put to death those “evil longings of your earthly body” that pop up. Through His power we can deprive them of power (v5). The peace of Christ should permeate all we are, all we do, who we are.
“Let the peace of Christ
[the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him]
be the controlling factor in your hearts
[deciding and settling questions that arise].” (v15)
Be this everywhere all the time
Read the full text… Colossians 3:5-17 Full text:
5 So put to death and deprive of power
the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God].
6 Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming [b]on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts],
7 and in these [sinful things] you also once walked, when you were habitually living in them [without the knowledge of Christ].
8 But now rid yourselves [completely] of all these things:
anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another,
for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new [spiritual] self
who is being continually renewed in true knowledge in the image of Him who created the new self—
11 a renewal in which there is no [distinction between] Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, [nor between nations whether] [c]barbarian or [d]Scythian, [nor in status whether] slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all [so believers are equal in Christ, without distinction].
12 So, as God’s own chosen people,
who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and
well-beloved [by God Himself],
put on a heart of
compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper];
13 bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another;
just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.
14 Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others].
15 Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise].
To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers].
And be thankful [to God always].
16 Let the [spoken] word of Christ have its home within you [dwelling in your heart and mind—permeating every aspect of your being]
as you teach [spiritual things] and admonish and train one another with all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
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