Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient, 7 and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. 8 But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self a with its practices 10 and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. 11 In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Old self and new self. “Put on” and “put away.” These complementary couplets are prominent in the New Testament and can be found in our passage today.
The death and resurrection of Jesus becomes a spiritual reality applied to the life of the believer. Often in our church’s baptisms, we hear the pastor say during the immersion, “Buried with Christ in his death.” And then when bringing the person out of the water, he says, “And raised to walk in newness of life.” Baptism is a symbolic identification with Christ where we publicly profess that we’re His followers. In doing so, we bury our old selves and are raised up to walk in new lives in Christ (see Romans 6:3-5).
Though as followers of Christ we are called to put away (or bury, or put to death) the old person we were, we soon realize that our sinful nature doesn’t merely disappear. It is still around and we are still tempted to behave in ways that do not honor Christ. What hope do we have to change? How can we change?
In today’s passage, we are told how you can be transformed more into “the image of your Creator” (see Col. 3:10).
There are things we are called to “put to death” and to “put away.” This includes things like sexual immorality, evil desires, greed, anger, malice, filthy language, and lying. In its place, we are called to “put on” the new self with all its many qualities (see the following passage, Col. 3:12 – 17, which is tomorrow’s devotional).
Though I have often failed in battling temptation, here are some ways I attempt to “put away” the old self with its evil desires, and “put on” the new self:
- I begin by realizing that my whole life is under the lordship of Christ, and He has the authority to direct and censor my choices. There can be no parts of my life that are off limits to what He wants to do in me. This involves an act of surrender on my part.
- I usually try to start my day in Bible Study and prayer where I surrender that day to Christ and pray over the events of the day. This helps me be prepared for the spiritual battles I will face.
- I try to be honest about areas in my life where I am more vulnerable to temptation. I try to set boundaries in my life to keep me from being in a position to fail. If I were an alcoholic, I would stay away from places where I would be tempted to drink.
- Another source of help comes through a friend who asks me how I am doing in an area of temptation, so I can be accountable for my actions. I appreciate the accountability because it helps me be the man I am called to be in Christ.
- Finally, I compare my life to a standard. This standard can be Jesus, or it may be the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The areas where I fall short are occasions for confessing sin, receiving God’s forgiveness, and asking for His power to change. I then depend on God’s Spirit in my life to empower me to walk in greater obedience.
- What areas of your sinful nature do you need to “put away” or “put to death”? Look at the list of sins Paul points out in this passage. Which of these do you need particular help to put away? Are there other areas not listed in this passage?
- Do you give Jesus permission to deal with every area of your life, or are there areas you withhold? Be honest. Which areas are “off limits”?
- Which tactic is most helpful to you today to put away sinful thoughts or actions? Surrendering to God? Immersing yourself in Bible Study and prayer? Avoiding areas of temptation? Finding an accountability friend? Something else?
- Which areas do you need to “put on”? Consider the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Ask for God’s Spirit to assist you in developing these qualities.