Because Christians have been raised with the Christ, we seek things which are above, setting our minds on heavenly/spiritual things (Colossians 3:1,2). In Jesus, we have put off the old man and put on the new man (Colossians 3:9,10).

In describing what “the old me” looked like, Paul observed, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (3:5). So, some matters are “off limits” for those who want to please the Lord God.

There is more. Paul also wrote, “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds” (3:9,10). Because He wants us to have the best life in this world and in the age to come, God has communicated His will to us about such affairs. Should we not be grateful?

In order for you and me to avoid those things, we need to understand exactly what they mean and encompass. Those who act as “sons of disobedience” will face God’s wrath (3:6), so we need to be educated properly. In this context, the matters from which we are to abstain include:

“Fornication” (3:5) – “illicit sexual intercourse; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals” [Thayer, word no. 4202; all Thayer definitions noted are via e-Sword].

“Uncleanness” (3:5) – “uncleanness . . . in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living; of impure motives” [Thayer, no. 167].

“Passion” (3:5) – “whatever befalls one, whether it be sad or joyous . . . a feeling which the mind suffers . . . used by the Greeks in either a good or bad sense . . . in the NT in a bad sense, depraved passion, vile passions” [Thayer, no. 3806].

“Evil desire” (3:5) – “denotes ‘strong desire’ of any kind, the various kinds being frequently specified by some adjective . . . The word is used of a good desire only in Luke 22:15; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:17. Everywhere else it has a bad sense” [Vine, no. 1939;].

“Covetousness” (3:5) – “greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice” [Thayer, no. 4124].

“Anger” (3:8) – “anger, the natural disposition, temper, character; movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but especially anger . . . anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself” [Thayer, no. 3709]. “Originally any natural impulse, or desire, or disposition, came to signify anger, as the strongest of all passions . . .” [Vine].

“Wrath” (3:8) – “passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again . . .” [Thayer, no. 2372]. It is suggested that the Greek word used here for “wrath” (“ / thumos”) is different from the word “anger” above (“ / org ”) in that “thumos indicates a more agitated condition of the feelings, an outburst of wrath from inward indignation, while orge (the word for “anger,” rdc) suggests a more settled or abiding condition of mind, frequently with a view to taking revenge . . .” [Vine].

“Malice” (3:8) – “malignity, malice, ill-will, desire to injure; wickedness, depravity; wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws; evil, trouble” [Thayer, no. 2549].

“Blasphemy” (3:8) – “slander, detraction, speech injurious to another’s good name; impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty” [Thayer, no. 988].

“Filthy language” (3:8) – “foul speaking, low and obscene speech” [Thayer, no. 148].

“Lie” (3:9) – “to lie, to speak deliberate falsehoods; to deceive one by a lie” [Thayer, no. 5574]. Notice that telling a lie means to say something that is false, knowing that it is false. It is said with the intent to deceive; it is deliberate. Recently a precious, energetic child observed to us that those who gave the weather forecast one day on the local news were “evil liars.” Why? Because they said it was going to snow, but it did not snow. We explained that they made a mistake, but they did not deceive anyone on purpose, so they are not liars.

In Paul’s inspired instruction to the church in Colosse, he mentioned matters of the heart, speech, and outward action. All are of equal importance.

While some might look at God’s regulations and complain about them being “too strict,” we are thankful to have such a loving Father Who wants what is best for us. Let us learn to live for His glory.

— Roger D. Campbell