Colossians 3:5-11

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 31, 2009


We have now entered the practical part of Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  He’s laid a good foundation of good doctrine.  He’s warned them about the heretical teachings that have begun to creep into their church.  Now he encourages them in how to live their lives.

Last week we saw Paul address the truths that as Christians there is a sense that we’ve “died” with Christ.  We have also “risen” with Christ.  Jesus’ own death and resurrection ought to affect the way we live our lives.

:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

put to deathnekroo – to make dead, to put to death; to deprive of power

The verb is an “aorist imperative”. A command.

Here’s the odd thing – Paul has already made a case that we are “dead”, that we’ve “died with Christ”.  Last week we saw:

(Col 2:20 NKJV) Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world…

Now Paul tells these “dead” people to “put to death” these things.


Make it real

There is a sense in which Jesus has already died for us, and we have died with Him.
His death has made it possible for us to live a different life.
His death has broken the power of sin in our lives. We no longer have to be a slave to sin.
But now we have to learn how this “death” affects us.
We have to take steps that make our life look like it’s supposed to look like.
The truth that Jesus died for me and I too am considered “dead” is supposed to affect the way we live.  Paul wrote,
(2 Cor 5:15 NKJV)  and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Accepting His death to pay for my sins ought to bring a change in my life.

Paul hints at this reality when he wrote,
(Phil 2:12-13 NKJV)  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; {13} for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

When Paul says to “work out your own salvation”, he doesn’t mean that you have to work in order to be saved from hell.

We, like the Philippians, have already been saved.

But now that we’re saved, there is something that needs to be “worked out” in our life.  We need to see the work of God affecting our actions.

And we don’t have to do it alone.  God is at work in our hearts making us willing and able to do the things He wants for us.


It’s like God has a long trip for us to take on the road to being more like Jesus.  But He doesn’t just send us off with a pat on the back.  He’s given us a vehicle to drive, gas in the tank, and directions for the next stop along the trip.

This is the process we call “sanctification”.  It’s learning to make real in your life what Jesus has done for you.  It’s taking the next step in the journey to heaven.

membersmelos – a member, limb: a member of the human body

Paul is using the language that describes the parts of a body. But instead of talking about hands, feet, and arms, he says that we have body parts called “fornication, passion, and covetousness”


Monkey trappers in North Africa have a clever method of catching their prey. A number of gourds are filled with nuts (monkey treats) and firmly fastened to a branch of a tree.  Each has a hole just large enough for the unwary monkey to stick his forepaw into it. When the hungry animal discovers this, he quickly grasps a handful of nuts, but the hole is too small for him to withdraw his clenched fist.  And he doesn’t have enough sense to open up his hand and let go in order to escape, so he is easily taken captive.

I have a friend who might lose his arm because the blood isn’t getting through his veins and his arm runs the risk of dying.  What’s bad for a real arm is good for these body parts.  Those monkeys could use a little “death” to let go of the monkey treats.  The specific “body parts” we are to die to include:

fornicationporneia – sex outside the boundaries of marriage. Things like adultery, premarital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.

It used to be that our nation understood that two people needed to get married before having sex or living together.  Times they are a’changin’.

Now it seems to be understood that two people in love will have sex and live together long before they get married.

We’ve lost something here.

God designed sex to be enjoyed in a specific environment of love, faithfulness, and commitment.  That means marriage.
The world will tell you that you need to try out sex before you get married to make sure you are compatible.
That is simply not true.  It’s backward.  There needs to be love, faithfulness, and commitment (marriage) before sex.

Many people are upset at the morality of our nation when it comes to homosexuality.

But that is simply one segment of the bigger picture where we’ve fallen as a nation.  We’re already way behind the ball when it comes to adultery and premarital sex.  God says that these things are just as wrong as homosexuality.

uncleannessakatharsia – uncleanness; the impurity of lustful, shamelessly immoral living

passionpathos – depraved passion; ungovernable desire

desireepithumia – craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

Here it’s characterized as a “lust” that’s “evil” – super bad

covetousnesspleonexia – greedy desire to have more



It’s not wrong to come to God with our needs.  Jesus said,
(Mat 7:11 NKJV) "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Sometimes we have great needs. We need to ask.

The movie “Oliver Twist” takes place in Victorian England, in an orphanage where the young boys are fed very, very little. The boys finally decide that one of them ought to ask for more food. Play video clip.

Be careful that you don’t start thinking that God is like the old man that beat Oliver for asking for more. That’s not God.

“Covetousness” is not the starving young boys asking for more, but the wealthy, fat old men asking for “more”. Did you notice how much food was on their table?

That’s “covetousness”. That’s “greed”.

When I was in Moscow, I was listening to one of the American pastors who lives in Russia talk about this. He had been living in Russia for a couple of years when he came back to the States for a visit. He had forgotten what life was like here. He has learned in Russia to live on much, much, much less than he used to live on. He’s learned to eat much less than he used to eat. He’s learned to own far fewer clothes than he used to own. He’s one of my new heroes.
Don’t feel guilty if you already “have a lot”. God has blessed you.
But the desire to “have more” is what can get you into trouble.
The Bible says,
(Prov 27:20 NKJV) Hell and Destruction are never full; So the eyes of man are never satisfied.

(Prov 27:20 NLT) …so human desire is never satisfied.

That’s our problem. We don’t know when to say “I’ve got enough”.

We need “contentment
(Phil 4:11-13 NASB)  Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. {12} I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. {13} I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

May God teach us to be content.

which is idolatryeidololatreia (“idol” + “worship”) – the worship of false gods, idolatry

A life of greed is a life of idolatry – worshiping another god.

:6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,

Because of these things – because of what things? Fornication, covetousness, etc.

the wrath of Godorge – anger, anger exhibited in punishment

Some folks don’t like to talk about the “wrath of God”.

Some mock the concept, thinking what we are talking about is some cranky old man who got up on the wrong side of the bed and takes it out on his neighbors by yelling at them for no good reason.

Some people have grown up in abusive families and they think that God is like their abusive father.  He is not like your abusive father.

Others say that God can’t have “wrath” if He is love. They choose to follow the god of “love”, not “wrath”.

What people forget is the concept of God’s justice.

We all appreciate and long for true justice.
When your car is stolen, you cry for justice.
When an innocent child is molested or killed, we cry for justice.
When a woman is raped or beaten, we cry for justice.
When a megalomaniac like Hitler kills millions of innocent people, we cry for justice.

And what brings justice to each of these situations? Some sort of just punishment.

The wrath of God is all about making things right, bringing justice.

What people don’t like about justice is when it involves them.

I don’t like it when I’m pulled over and given a speeding ticket. At that moment I’m not in favor of justice.  I want mercy.

This is why Jesus came – to provide a way out of God’s wrath.

Jesus paid the price of our sins by taking God’s justice out upon Himself.
Isaiah wrote,
(Isa 53:5 NLT) But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed!

is coming – whether we like it or not, there will be a day when mankind will face judgment.

(Psa 96:13 NKJV) …He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.

disobedienceapeitheia – obstinate opposition to the divine will. The word is actually built on the word for “faith”, these are those who have “unbelief”.

Paul repeats the same thing to the Ephesians:

(Eph 5:6 NKJV) Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.


God has better things for us

There might be people who accept Christ’s give of forgiveness and see it as a free pass to continue to live any way they want.
But Jesus saved us for better things.
There is a day in which God will judge the world. The world will be judged for it’s unbelief and the evil things that it has been doing.
If the world is going to be judged for these things, why are God’s people doing them?

Shame on us if we are doing the very things that Jesus came to die for.

Shame on us if we are doing the very things God will judge the world for.

:7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

When we were unbelievers, we used to do these things,

Now that we are believers, things should change.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

(1 Cor 6:9-11 NKJV) Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, {10} nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. {11} And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Some people think that church is made up of the “good people”. Oh if they only knew. Some of us may be doing a little better than we used to, and what we used to be wasn’t good. If you only knew what some of the people next to you used to be like, some of you might be tempted not to come back to church.

But the truth is, Jesus changes people. We USED TO live like this. Jesus has changed us. How many of you will admit to the fact that Jesus has changed you?

:8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

put offapotithemi – to put off or aside or away; Paul is using the picture of someone removing articles of clothing. Paul will continue to use this picture of taking off or putting on clothes through the next couple of verses.

angerorge – anger, temper. This is the same word used to describe the “wrath of God”.

So how come it’s okay for God to have “wrath” but it’s not okay for us?

Our anger is usually not for the right reasons.

(James 1:19-20 NKJV) So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; {20} for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

From time to time you will hear Christians say that they have “righteous indignation” about some issue.
It’s possible. But the truth is that more often than not our anger is simply wrong. It does not produce good things. It is not godly.

wraththumos – passion, heat, anger that explodes and then soon calms down.

Several passages translate this word “outbursts of wrath” (2Cor. 12:20; Gal. 5:20).


Stop dumping your garbage

Sometimes the person that has this kind of explosive anger will get angry at something, explode, and then quickly forget that they were angry at all.
Meanwhile the people that live with them have all kinds of wounds from the explosions.
A man writes,
“One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, “Why did you just do that? That guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!” This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck.” He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage—frustration, anger, disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they’ll dump it on you. Don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don’t take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets. The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day.”
You can’t always control what happens to you, but you do have a choice as to how you will react to it.

malicekakia – ill-will, desire to injure.  It’s plotting to back at that other person.

blasphemyblasphemia – slander, detraction, speech injurious, to another’s good name

We usually think of “blasphemy” as using God’s name, cursing, or saying something bad about God.

Slandering another person is a form of blasphemy.

filthy languageaischrologia (“shameful” + “word”) – foul, obscene speech


Henry received a parrot for his birthday. This parrot was fully grown with a bad attitude and worse vocabulary. Every other word was an expletive. Those that weren’t expletives were, to say the least, rude. Henry tried hard to change the bird’s attitude and was constantly saying polite words, playing soft music, anything he could think of to try and set a good example ... Nothing worked. He yelled at the bird and the bird got worse. He shook the bird and the bird got more angry and more rude. Finally, in a moment of desperation, Henry put the parrot in the freezer. For a few moments he heard the bird squawking and kicking and screaming—then suddenly there was quiet. Henry was frightened that he might have actually hurt the bird and quickly opened the freezer door. The parrot calmly stepped out onto Henry’s extended arm and said:”I’m sorry that I might have offended you with my language and actions and ask for your forgiveness.I will endeavor to correct my behavior.” Henry was astounded at the bird’s change in attitude and was about to ask what had made such a drastic change when parrot continued: “May I ask what the chicken did?”

These are things we are to “put off”.

:9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,

liepseudomai – to speak deliberate falsehoods; to deceive one by a lie


Maturity through truth

Part of the formula for maturity as a person is learning to speak and to listen to truth:
(Eph 4:14-15 NKJV) that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, {15} but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ;
When I have a problem in my life, I tend to want to hide it and not let others know that I have the problem.

If someone suspects me of having this problem, I might fudge a little on the truth.

But I find myself taking steps of growth when I finally admit that I do have a problem. I take steps of growth when I’m able to hear someone else confront me that I have a problem.

Truth doesn’t automatically solve the problem, but it allows the problem to be dealt with.

Truth is taking something out of the darkness of the closet and bringing it into the light.

(1 John 1:5-7 NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

There is nothing evil or deceptive about God. He is not like people you know who have let you down.

{6} If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

If we are telling people that we’re close to God, but our lives have areas of sin in them that we are not dealing with, we have a problem. If we are walking close to God, His light is going to expose our sin to us and we are faced with learning to deal with our sin.

{7} But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

God’s light exposes my sin. God’s light causes me to come to God, ask for forgiveness, and find cleansing.

I think that most of us have known a person or two who has claimed to be a Christian, but is really living a lie. Their life does not match the things that Paul describes here.

God’s desire is that we all learn to live in the truth.
No cover-ups. No lies.
If I struggle with a sin, I don’t hide it. I admit it. I ask God for help.
If I’m doing well, then I’m really doing well.
People need to see genuineness. They need to see what real Christians look like.

:9 since you have put off the old man with his deeds,

Again Paul uses the clothing metaphor.

The “old man” is another way of describing our “sin nature”, our life before Christ, the part of us that has died with Christ.

put offapekduomai – wholly put off from one’s self; wholly to strip off for one’s self

There’s a kind of intensity in the word. It’s not just casually taking off a piece of clothing, but stripping something clean off you.


Suppose you were to wake up from a nap and find yourself covered with bugs. No, not that kind of “Bugs”. What if you found yourself covered with these kinds of bugs? What would you do. Would you want to “put off” the bugs? With what kind of intensity would you try to “put them off”? How about this guy (covered with bees)?
We are supposed to “put off” the old man. We ought to find the “old man” completely revolting.

:10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

put onenduo – to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self

Just as the old man is something we want to get out of quickly, the new man is something we want to enjoy and sink into.

Perhaps like your favorite lounger, or sliding under the covers after a long hard day.

new man – this is our new life in Christ.

 A few weeks back we looked at:

(2 Cor 5:17 NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

When a person opens their heart to Christ, change takes place. Some change is immediate – we now belong to God. Some change takes time, like this “renewing”.

renewedanakainoo – to cause to grow up, to make new

This new life we have in Christ is something that grows and matures.

One of the key elements to this growth is what takes place through the change in our minds, the way we think. We are renewed through “knowledge”.

Paul uses a related word in:

(Rom 12:2 NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
This is one of the major aims of “The Truth Project” that we’re going to be starting on Thursday nights. Watch for the key for transformation (through the renewing of our minds). Our “world view” changes the more we grow in God’s truth. Play “world view” clip.
We are renewed with the Truth.  We are transformed by Truth.

according to the imagethis is what we’re being changed into. We’re being changed to be more and more like Jesus.

Read about Jesus. Study Jesus. That’s who God wants you to be more and more like.

:11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

barbarianbarbaros – one whose speech is rude, rough and harsh; one who speaks a foreign or strange language (and it sounds like all they’re saying is, “bar-bar-bar”). It was a bit of a slam on someone who was not cultured enough to know the Greek language.

ScythianSkuthes – “rude or rough”; an inhabitant of Scythia or modern day Russia; by the more civilized nations of antiquity the Scythians were regarded as the wildest of barbarians

And I’m sure that there are probably a few Russians who would calls us Americans “rude” or “uncultured”.

This “new man” is not based on what race you are. It is not based on whether you are a circumcised Jew or an uncircumcised pagan-pig-dog-heathen Gentile. It is not based on just how cultured or rude you are. It doesn’t matter what economic class you wind up in.

All that counts is that you have Christ.

What has God challenged you with today?  Would you take a moment to look back at the passage?  Is there anything that ought to go on your life’s priority list?