But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.…
The apostle still employs the most powerful motives possible in his exhortations to personal holiness. His figures and illustrations vary ("Ye died; ye were raised with Christ; therefore put your sins to death." "Ye put off your old nature and put on a new nature; therefore put away your old sins").
I. OLD SINS TO BE PUT AWAY. From the sins of the flesh Paul passes on to sins of the spirit and the tongue. There are two groups.
1. "Anger, wrath, malice." Discriminate between these. Οργή may be a right state of mind (Mark 3:5; Ephesians 4:26), but is easily depraved into a criminal anger, or into θυμός (wrath, passion), or κακία (malice which wishes or seeks to do injury). In fact, all our evil principles may be said to be good principles fallen and debased. Selfishness is fallen self love; envy is depraved emulation; revenge is fallen resentment; sinful anger is righteous indignation degraded and debased. The lawfulness of anger must be determined by its direction, its degree, and its motive. In the daily struggle against various forms of sinful anger, we may give the following hints.
(l) When passion rises in the soul, let it not overflow through the lips. Suppress the mutiny within the citadel (Psalm 17:3; Psalm 39:1; James 1:19).
(2) Let the battle be fought in sight of the cross and in memory of the provocations we have given to God (Ephesians 4:31, 32).
(3) Rely on Christ's power to save now (Titus 2:14).
2. "Railing," "shameful speaking," lying. Among the commonest forms of these fruits of an evil heart (Matthew 12:34) we note: "Backbiting," reckless detraction, i.e. seeking to draw a person down from the reputation he enjoys. (It is not necessary or lawful to speak all we know against a person, though many act as though they were at perfect liberty to utter it, if only it is true.) Attributing wrong motives - a very common form of "shameful speaking," a gross breach of "charity" (1 Corinthians 13:7), and an arrogant claim to a "discerning of spirits." Exaggerations; false advertisements; conventional falsehoods in business (Matthew 5:37; 2 Corinthians 1:12, 17, 18; Ephesians 4:25).
II. THE DEATH WARRANT OF THESE OLD SINS. Covet not, rail not, lie not, etc., "seeing ye have put off," etc. Two truths are taught.
1. We profess to be enjoying a new life. So complete is the change it is described as a change of nature ("old man... new man"), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), a new birth, a new resurrection. Of this new life we learn:
(1) It is Divine in its origin ("him that created him").
(2) Progressive in its nature ("being renewed unto knowledge"), like a statue becoming more and more like the ideal of the sculptor; or a youth maturing into manhood; or a pupil growing into intimate acquaintance with his master's deepest thoughts (John 17:3; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16-19; Philippians 3:9-14).
(3) God like in its character ("after the image," etc., Ephesians 4:24). A renewed saint is more God like than an unfallen Adam (Romans 5:21). The issue of this progressive growth "unto knowledge" and mature Christian character is seen in Ephesians 4:13-16. Everything connected with that new life is in deadly antagonism to every kind of sin, which must be "put away," like slothful habits by the scholar, or "weight" by the runner. Sin is like poison to the new life we profess to enjoy, depressing vitality if it does not extinguish life altogether.
2. In this life Christ claims supremacy. (Ver. 11.) Dr. Lightfoot suggests that the distinctions here said to be abolished were selected with special reference to the circumstances of the Colossian Church: to the Judaizing of some, to the Gnostic pride of others who despised the unlettered; and that his relation at the time he wrote to the slave Onesimus led him to add "bondman, freeman." The unity of the race and the brotherhood of men are distinctly Christian doctrines. "The head of every man is Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:3). Our union and subordination to him constitute our equality with one another in the world of grace (Matthew 23:8-10). For all earthly distinctions sink into insignificance compared with his supremacy and his presence in us all.
(1) "Christ is all:" he is "all" to God (Colossians 1:19; cf. Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 3:17), as the only begotten Son, the one atoning Sacrifice ("the Lamb of God"), the only Mediator, the appointed Judge (John 5:22, 23; Acts 17:31). Contrast the limitations attached to Abraham, the friend of God (Genesis 18:18-33), and Moses, who was "faithful as a servant," but could not redeem his brethren (Exodus 32:32, 33), and "the fulness" of Christ (Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 10:10-14). Being "all" to God, he is all to us; the Centre and Circumference of truth; the Alpha and Omega of our life; "the Author and Finisher of our faith." He is a Saviour in whom "dwelleth all the fulness," etc. (Colossians 2:9), "in whom are hid," etc. (Colossians 2:3), who is "full of grace and truth," whose love "passeth knowledge," whose blood "cleanseth from all sin," and "who of God is made unto us," etc. (1 Corinthians 1:30).
(2) Christ is "in all" - in all of us; for he comes to save, to conquer, to reign, to share his very life with us (Galatians 2:20). Where he comes, sin must go; he can brook no rival; for "in all things he must have the pre-eminence." And he is in all things: "He fills all things" (Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 4:10). A sense of the all-pervading presence and power of Christ should
(a) abase the Christian tempted to be proud of birth, purse, or brain;
(b) give dignity to the lowliest disciple in whom the Son of God dwells;
(c) pledge us to ceaseless strife against every form of sin. - E.S.P.
Parallel VersesKJV: But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.