“But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”
Now we turn to the sins of the disposition. In verse five, we studied the sins of passion. God wants us to deal with the sins of disposition and the sins of passion (vv. 8,9). We now come to the second divine directive of this paragraph. The ugly sins of verse 5 are to “put to death,” but the six sins of verses eight and nine, we are to “put off.” God wants us to divest ourselves of these six sins.
The analogy changes from killing to disrobing. The sins of these verses are sins of the mouth. These are sins generally acceptable in Christian circles. “These are Christian sins.” That is like an “honest thief” or a “chaste prostitute.” There are no such animals.
“But now” sets up a contrast. Verse seven treats the difference between pre-Christian life and the post life with Christ. This right-about-face word tells us that belief in the cross divides the believer’s life. The post cross life is different in that the believer has a new status before God (positional truth). The Christian has a new identity. It is this new identity that is the basis of living the Christian life.
Many non-Christians and even Christians try to live their lives based on personal reformation. They do, indeed, make great changes to their behavioral patterns. Even non-Christians make great advances in their lives. A housewife might be a silent alcoholic. At some point, she realizes the damage alcoholism is doing to her family and herself. She takes effective steps to straighten out her life. This does not have a thing to do with Christ. Many unbelievers change their lives. That does not cut any ice with God.
“Now” — not bye and bye. Right now, we are to put off the following list of sins immediately.
The list of sins in this category has to do with the spirit. There are two categories of sin in this passage: 1) the sins of the flesh and 2) the sins of the disposition and mouth. Ephesians 2:3,5 distinguish between these two types of sin. 2 Corinthians 7:1 makes the same distinction,
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
We can compare the “filthiness of the flesh” to Colossians 3:5 and “spirit” to 3:8,9. Most saints do not commit blatant sins of the flesh. However, we are tempted to generate anger or maliciousness.
“you yourselves are to put off all these:”
The words “put off” means to take off like a suit of clothes (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22, 25; Heb. 12:1; James 1:21; 1 Peter 2:1). These words mean to put off, lay aside, to put away from oneself, cast off. Romans 13:12 uses “put off” figuratively of works of darkness,
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
The phrase “let us cast off” denotes a definite act. “Put off” is a lesser word than “put to death” of verse five. “Put off” means to disrobe. Acts uses the verb “put off” at the stoning of Stephen, “And they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58). The metaphor is one of the divestiture of clothes.
God wants us to put away the sins of this verse, like we would take off dirty clothes after working in the yard. The tense indicates that we are to take off the following dirty sins as a definite act. Discard these sins as we would throw dirty clothes in a hamper. Even if the dirty clothes stand up in a corner, leave them there! God wants us to discard the sin of our lives.
The following list of sins is a picture of dirty Christian grooming. If the Christian walks around with these sins in this life, he is not very presentable to God or others.
“All these” — put off the whole group of sins; do not select just a couple of them. God wants us to put off all sin of this category (Eph. 4:22-31). We are to put off the category of sins of the tongue.
There is a negative side to Christianity — we are to put off the hand-me-downs from Adam.
God expects us to address the sins of the disposition as much as the sins of the flesh. God wants us to dress like a different crowd — like the family of God. Do you dress the part of Christianity? To dress the part, we have to divest ourselves of the old life. Jesus Christ has given us the wardrobe of grace. He expects us to wear it.
The only way some of us react under pressure is to vest the sins of the disposition. We get angry, explode in anger, slander, malign, use filthy language, and lie. To get out of a bad situation, we lie. If it is at all possible, we will lie our way out of it. This the natural mode of operation for those without Christ. This vestment does not look good on Christians. These garments went out of style when we became Christians. God has given us a new set of clothes.
God wants us to take off the dirty clothes before we put on the new. If we put a new suit coat over greasy jeans, our attire has no fashion, and we are out of vogue spiritually.
When we dress up with the attire of verses 8 and 9, we masquerade like something we are not. This is not us. God gave us a new suit of clothes (Colossians 3:12-17).