Col. 3:8-11 - Put Away Social Sins PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Saturday, 09 June 2007 15:43

Colossians 3:8-11
Put Away Social Sins”
Tim Black

  1. Introduction

    1. Illustration:

      1. Polish jokes.

        1. Example: Did you hear about the Polish man who came to his pastor saying “Please allow me to divorce my wife, because I know she wants to kill me?” His pastor replied, “What makes you think she wants to kill you?” The man said “It’s because she is refinishing my favorite wood chair.” The pastor told him his wife was refinishing the chair because she loved her husband, not because she wanted to kill him. The Polish man went home but came back the next week saying “Now I’m sure she wants to kill me, and I have proof! I looked in the closet where she keeps the chemicals she is using on my favorite chair, and the bottle she’s using says ‘Polish Remover!’” : )

        2. Why do we make fun of Polish people? At some point in history, our society came to think Polish people were unintelligent and so worthy of ridicule. We so easily take outward differences of intelligence, class, gender, or national identity as reasons to ridicule and ostracize one another. But at the end of our passage today, Paul tells us we must not allow these superficial distinctions we make to divide us as fellow members of Christ’s church.

    2. Review. In this passage Paul continues to teach us to put off the old man of non-Christian character and put on the new man of Christian character. What characterizes the old man is a love of self on the inside, and a hatred of others on the outside. And what characterizes the new man is selfless love on the inside, and thankful blessing on the outside. In our passage today Paul teaches you to put away your hatred toward others on the outside. And centrally, he exhorts you to put away social sins.

    3. Sermon Outline. In this passage Paul exhorts us to put away social sins in 3 aspects:

      1. Their Core: Hatred v. 8

      2. Their Expression: Lies vv. 9-10

      3. Their Effects: Superficial Distinctions v. 11

  1. Body – Put away social sins in...

    1. Their Core: Hatred v. 8

      1. First Paul says we must put away social sins in their core, which we may summarize as hatred toward others in its various forms. He says in v. 8,

        1. Colossians 3:8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

      2. Now”

        1. Paul connects this verse with what he said in v. 7 by the words “But now.” Once you walked in paths of unrighteousness, and lived your life in the evil desires of your old nature. “But now” you are on a different path, and have a different life within you. You are on the path that leads to life, and you are enlivened by the Holy Spirit who lives within you.

      3. The command: You must put these things away!

        1. And so “now” you must put the sins of your old life away. This command means to put something at a distance from you, and it is a strong term. It means to throw off, to be done with, to lock up in prison and throw away the key. The sense is slightly different from the command Paul gave in the preceding passage to “put to death” evil desires. Evil desires are a power within us that influence our character on the inside, and so they must be put to death. But the sins Paul speaks of now are those that characterize our character on the outside, and so they should be put away from us, thrown off, as if they were a filthy garment that we should take off and throw away.

      4. These sins are social in nature

        1. These sins are social in nature. They are distinct from the sins in v. 5, which were sins centered in evil desires. As such they were essentially selfish desires. But these sins in v. 8 are sins that are all involved in how we relate to other people. They all express hostility toward others. You get angry at someone. You are filled with wrath toward someone. You have malice toward someone. While the sins in v. 5 were sins we commit as individuals, the sins in v. 8 are sins we commit toward others. And in fact these forms of hatred are the outflow of the selfishness involved in the evil desires listed in v. 5. How often have you heard someone say, “You’re only concerned about yourself?” What that means is that you are not properly concerned about other people. If you are only seeking your own good, you will not seek the good of those around you. What is in your heart will overflow in your life. Jesus said,

          • Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

      5. In detail

        1. Anger, wrath

          • Anger and wrath are very similar. Anger is “a vigorous upsurge of one’s nature against someone or something.”1 But it has a more settled and ongoing quality than does wrath. Wrath is a sudden, passionate, emotional outburst of anger that boils hot and can subside as quickly as it began.

          • There is a righteous anger. It is right to oppose sin and uphold righteousness. David said

            • Psalm 139:21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?

          • And in Ephesians 4 Paul says,

            • Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.

          • But our propensity is to be angry and to sin, to let the sun go down on our anger, to store up a grudge and to let anger fester within us. And so James is right to warn us,

            • James 1:19-20 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.

          • But what anger does produce is strife. Proverbs 15:18 says

            • Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

        2. Malice

          • Malice is the state or attitude of the heart when you are angry. It is the desire or intent to harm someone else; it is a vicious disposition; an evil bent. The Greek word indicates a person who is filled with evil inside, and who is intent on bringing evil upon others.

          • A heart in this state can be the source of anger and wrath, but it can also be the disposition that will result when you allow yourself to be continually and repeatedly angry. You can move from being a person who gets angry, to being an angry person.

        3. Slander/Blasphemy

          • Slander is speech that aims at ruining a person’s reputation. The Greek word here is “blasfhmi,a” (blasphemia), from which we get our word “blasphemy,” but the word does not refer to defaming God here, but defaming our neighbor. The word implies evil speaking, railing, slandering, trying to harm a person’s reputation, mudslinging. It even brings into view the sins we can commit by complaining and unjust criticism.

        4. Filthy language

          • Lastly, Paul tells us to put away “filthy language.” This word actually has two aspects to it—both an aspect of dirtiness, and an aspect of abuse. It is “foul-mouthed abuse.” It is not merely speaking in crude terms, but doing so in order to ridicule, defame, anger, threaten, and otherwise abuse a person.

        5. Summary

          • We can summarize what Paul commands here in this—because you have become a Christian, you must get rid of the core aspects of hatred within you—from the emotions of anger and wrath to the evil intent of malice to the evil words of slander and filthy language. If the love of Christ constrains you then the hatred of man must leave.

    2. Their Expression: Lies vv. 9-10

      1. Paul next tells us to put off social sins in their outward expressions of hatred toward one another.

        1. Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

      2. Exhortation: “Do not lie to one another

        1. Paul exhorts us not to lie to one another. Did you know that lies are in fact an expression of malice? Paul says in 1 Cor. 5:8,

          • 1 Corinthians 5:8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

        2. A lie always hides the truth and leads your neighbor into error. It does not reveal the true contents of your heart, and mind, and life to the other person. It cuts them off from fellowship with you and would rather see the other person harmed than for the truth to be told. A lie is an expression of hatred in the area of communication.

        3. But the truth is precisely the opposite. It unites two people in their communication so they can trust one another and cooperate. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “The highest compact two people can make is that there shall be Truth between them for evermore.”

      3. Reason: You have

        1. Put off

          • the old man

            • Paul tells you the reason why you must “not lie to one another.” The reason is that you have put off the old man, and have put on the new man.

            • The verb “put off” refers to taking off clothing from your body. It is as if the old man was an article of clothing that covered your whole body, that characterized your appearance and defined the way you interacted with other people.

          • with its practices

            • You have put off your old nature. And in principle you have put off the sinful practices in which you were bound by that old nature. Those practices colored the whole of who you were, just like your clothing can show people who you are and what you do. It is in this sense that God said in Malachi that

              • Malachi 2:16the man who hates and divorces...covers his garment with violence.

            • But through the regeneration God worked in you by giving you a new heart, by giving you faith in Christ and repentance from your sin at your conversion, you have put that old life of sin behind you.

              • Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

        2. Put on

          • the new man

            • And now that you have turned away from your old self and its practices, you have also put on the new self, which is made not to lie, but to know and tell the truth. God has a purpose for you now that He has made you a new creature in Christ, and that purpose is for you to rejoice in the truth, to tell the truth to others, to lead them to the truth of God and salvation through Christ, to reveal the glory of God in the way you think and the words you say.

          • which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

            • You are “being renewed in knowledge after the image of [your] Creator.” In the Reformed tradition we distinguish between the immutable and the mutable aspects of the image of God. The immutable aspects of the image of God are that man is a personal, spiritual being endowed with a mind, will, and emotions and stands as God’s representative on the earth exercising dominion over the creatures. Due to these aspects the image of God was not lost in the fall, and so God affirmed to Noah in Gen. 9:6 that man was still made in God’s image, and James 3:9 says we must not curse another man, who is made in the likeness of God. The mutable aspects of the image of God are chiefly knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and these were lost in the fall. Knowledge is mentioned in this verse, and righteousness and holiness are mentioned in Eph. 4:24. Paul focuses on knowledge in this verse in order to teach that the new man is being renewed in order to regain true knowledge, which by implication he lost in the fall.

            • What this means is that lying is in direct opposition to God’s redemptive purpose, and is following the purpose of Satan, the father of lies, in tempting Adam and Eve to sin against God by believing Satan’s lie.

            • But God’s purpose in creating man, and in renewing man’s soul in salvation, is for man to know God that he may glorify and enjoy God forever. To live in fellowship with God and one another. Not to hide in shame over our sins.

            • As a Christian you have the great privilege of learning the truth. So speak it!

    3. Their Effects: Superficial Distinctions v. 11

      1. If you live as one redeemed from sin by Jesus Christ, you will recognize your fellow Christians for who they are—brothers and sisters in Christ. And you will love them for that reason. You share a common Savior, and in Him you share a common life.

      2. But if you let the social sins of anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language be the rule in your life, and you allow your communication to separate you from your fellow believers, that separation will become crystallized and reinforced in the sinful use of distinctions of religious and social privilege. But Paul calls you to put off these effects of social sin, saying

        1. Colossians 3:9-11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

      3. These effects of social sin are mere superficial distinctions that pale in significance before the deep and vital unity experienced between brothers and sisters in Christ.

      4. There are all sorts of distinctions we can make between ourselves to use as excuses not to love one another as we ought. In Gal. 3:28 Paul gives a similar list that is more general in nature:

        1. Gal. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

        2. There he specifies differences of religious prerogative, social caste, and physical gender.

        3. But here Paul speaks in a way that applies this truth more specifically to the issues in Colosse.

          • He opposes the false teachers’ Judaism, especially their requirement that Christians be circumcised. No Christian is more pleasing to God, or more privileged over another Christian, for having been circumcised or not having been circumcised. Rather,

            • What matters is whether you have a new heart:

              • Galatians 6:15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

            • What matters is whether you have faith in Christ:

              • Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

            • What matters is whether you have obedience to Christ:

              • 1 Corinthians 7:19 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.

            • Are you willing to condemn, to fear, to slight someone in a different denomination? Do you look down on the Baptist, the Methodist, the Lutheran, the Pentecostal? You should ask yourself this question—But is the person a Christian? If so then they are a brother! Christ is in them, and they are in Christ.

          • Paul also opposes the false teachers’ Greek approval of the superiority of intelligence, understanding, and knowledge. Literally the word “barbarian” referred to someone who did not speak Greek, and so their speech sounded like “bar bar bar” to a Greek speaker. For that reason barbarians were not considered intelligent, and Scythians were the lowest of the barbarians; they were slaves from the savage people found in Southern Russia North of the Black Sea. Believe me, Scythians were truly savage—they were nomads, never washed with water, lived by the sword and died by the sword, and drank their enemies’ blood from the broken halves of human skulls. Barbarians were people without refined civilization and culture, and were considered to be much like we may consider minorities in the U.S. or citizens of the third world. There are no second-class citizens, or cultures, in the church. We are the community of those redeemed from the barbarism of sin, and are not to despise our brother for whom Christ died.

          • Paul also opposes the view that those who are slaves should have a low standing in the church. Col. 4:9 says that Onesimus the slave—the slave owned by Philemon, about whom the book of Philemon was written—Onesimus was one of the Colossians. In the church employers and employees are equals. Even masters and slaves are equals in the life of the church.

        4. Implications:

          • Christianity is for the miserable, poor, blind, and stupid. Christianity is for the homeless. It is for the outcasts. Are you for them? Or are you against them?

          • Do you exalt yourself in your own heart above your brother in Christ? Are you too good for someone in this church? Too good to spare them your anger, or protect their reputation with your words? Too good to listen to what they have to say? Too good to have them over for lunch? If you are, then you aren’t good at all.

          • These distinctions that we so sinfully abuse do not prevent someone that we would ostracize from putting on the new man. They do not prevent the gospel from taking root in a person’s life.2 These distinctions do not matter, but Christ is all that matters! Is Christ in this person? Then you need to call them your brother. Do you really want to put off all the evil of your old life? Then all the motive you need to truly love that most despicable person next to you, to tell them the whole truth with all sincerity, to put off responding to them in anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language, and to speak what gives grace to the hearer, all the motive you need is that Christ is their Savior, and Christ lives in their heart.

          • You are a Gentile, and now Christ is in you. Rejoice in “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

1Friberg Lexicon.

2Eadie, 237-238 is excellent here.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 June 2007 15:44