There are certain lines of God’s Word that haunt me. This is one of them.
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:5-6 NIV)
In the NASB translation, it adds to the end “the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience” which implies to me that this is about being obedient to how God calls for us to live. It is a matter of the will.
This list is also rendered in other translations as fornication (sex outside of marriage), uncleanness, inordinate affection (the root word in Greek means to breathe after but also highlights the contamination of character effected by immoral behavior), evil concupiscence (weird word that means strong uncontrolled sexual urges, but also any overmastering passion), and covetousness (unchecked hunger for physical pleasure, wanting what you don’t have, someone else’s possession). All these are under the banner of idolatry–worshiping something or someone other than God.
The wrath of God is coming…because of these.
Part of the horror of hell is that those who conscientiously choose sin over God become less and less human,
“until all that ennobles them as creatures made in God’s image has, by their own choice, been altogether obliterated, beyond hope or pity…Unless we are to rob human beings of all meaningful responsibility for their actions, and to underplay the utter holiness of God, hell must always at least be a possibility…Those who make evil a way of life begin to lose their humanity, begin (in other words) to die, even while they are alive…Those who choose to live without God will one day find that they have forfeited their likeness to him.” (N. T. Wright, Commentaries on Colossians and Philemon)
Hell is real.
Wrath is coming.
These are frightening things to consider.
So maybe these first five vices are not the ones in your sin arsenal. Okay…read these verses directly following the above Scripture and try’em on for size.
“You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Colossians 3:7-8
Let’s go through these slowly and define what they mean in context.
Call It What It Is:
Anger: continuous state of smoldering or seething hatred
Rage: when anger breaks out in actual angry deeds or words
Malice: in Greek, it simply means evil but most likely has the slant of evil intended to cause hurt
Slander: malice put into words, (the Greek is blasphēmia, speech which dishonors God Himself by directing evil at one made in his image)
Filthy Language: words, either by foul association or abusive intent, that contaminate both the speaker and hearers
(Of note: the cycle starts with anger–thoughts going through the mind–and manifesting itself outwardly in deed and speech.)
What are we to do? We cannot give ourselves permission to speak or act like this any longer. We used to walk in these ways in our lives before Jesus…we can’t any more. It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. It all starts with thoughts.
Put these away from your lips. Paul, the writer of the Book of Colossians, exhorts and pleads for the believers in Colossae to rid themselves of these behaviors. As believers, he pleads with us, too: cast them out of our lives. We shouldn’t speak as we do to those around us about others.
Why? Because words wound. They change situations and relationships. They are like seeds from weeds, growing wherever they’re sown and choking out the good seed.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:36-37 “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
On A Very Personal Note: As I was researching and moving through this with the Holy Spirit, I began weeping uncontrollably. I had to confess, repent, and receive God’s forgiveness. I needed to go make it right with my own that I have wounded with my words. Oftentimes, the place we have to be vigilant of our speech is with people we love the most.
How many careless words have fallen from or been hurled through our lips? How have we wounded our families, co-workers, brothers and sisters in Christ, or the people outside of the Church? Confess, repent, change. Rid yourself of these.
Please, Lord, let us not be a reason for your wrath today. Thank You that you have poured out Your Son’s blood for us and for all that our eternity isn’t sealed in flames. If we have confessed Jesus’ name as Lord and Savior and been baptized from life into death with Jesus, we are made new. Help us to be better for our families, churches and communities with our thoughts and words and deeds. Help us to put a guard on our mouths. Keep us from temptations. We love You, Jesus. Amen.