The second set of sins is a little more subtle. Verse 8 – anger, wrath, malice, slander, filthy language. Verse 9 – lying. I meet a lot of so-called Christians who are angry, they are wrathful, they have malice in their hearts, they wish harm and ill-will toward another person, they are bitter, they harbor unforgiveness. Their hearts are like cauldrons of sin. They are simmering with anger deep down inside. They can appear nice on the surface most of the time. But if you put them in the wrong set of circumstances, the anger and rage inside boils and bubbles over in the form of slander. They tear down a parent or sibling or a former best friend who betrayed them or another brother or sister in Christ through slanderous words or gossip. Same with filthy language or lying. How do you know if someone has anger or malice or filth in their heart? You examine their speech. Out of the overflow of our hearts, our mouths speak. Through the words that come out of their mouth, you get a window into our hearts. The words reveal the heart.
In the context of these two sets of sins, twice, Paul talks about repentance. Verse 5 – therefore put to death. And verse 8 – put away. The phrase “put to death” can be translated as stop completely. Don’t do it anymore.
Verse 6-7 are critical. You got to get this.
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.
For the Christian, these sins of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, greed, anger, wrath, malice, slander, filthy language, lying, these should be past tense. You once walked in these things. Past tense. You used to walk in these things before you were saved. Before you were a Christian, you had no choice but to walk in these things. You were enslaved to sin. Satan was you master. Greed was your master. You were a prisoner of sin. Even if you wanted to stop, you couldn’t.
But brothers and sisters, if you are saved and you are still living this way, then either, your salvation is questionable, OR, you are being disobedient. The only way you can live an earthbound, fleshly life continuously is because either you think you’re saved but you’re not, or, you are being disobedient.
The difference between a victorious Christian and a defeated Christian can be summed up in one word. Obedience. A victorious Christian obeys God and a defeated Christian doesn’t.
If you are a Christian who obeys God, you will follow these 2 steps. First, you will put off your old, sinful nature and second, you will put on the new nature.
9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self.
In verse 8, when it says to “put away” or in verse 9, when it says you have “puff off the old self with its practices” and in verse 10, when it says “put on the new self,” there is a connotation of clothing. You put away or take off clothing. Or you put on clothing.
The more I think about it, this imagery of putting off and putting on clothing is such a good imagery for the Christian life. Jesus gave us a visual object lesson to illustrate this spiritual principle of putting off the old nature and putting on the new nature when he raised Lazarus from the dead.
John 11:38-44 [READ]
This is a physical salvation, a raising of a dead man to life, but it gives us a great picture of what happens to every believer spiritually. Lazarus was literally mummified, bound by linen strips to the point that I’m sure it was very difficult for Lazarus to move. The word “bound” here can refer to being imprisoned, or to be in chains. This is a physical binding, but sin does the same thing to our spirits. We are bound, in chains, imprisoned on the inside due to sin.
So when Jesus tells the crowd to “loose him” by taking off his grave clothes, he is telling them to put away, to untie, to loosen, to unbind. Isn’t this what happens internally when you and I are saved? Jesus sets us free from the prison of our sin. The prison doors fling open. The chains fall off. We are free.
If our sinful nature is like old clothing that needs to be put off, what are we to put on instead? Simple – Christ.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment.
Christ is like a garment we put on. I’m not sure if you ever thought of Christian life in this way.
Both putting off the old and putting on the new are important. What happens if you stop at putting off the old? What if you stop at repenting? This is not Christianity. This is self-improvement. Your goal cannot be, how can I be less lustful and less angry? You make adjustments. You get accountability and over time, you overcome these sins. Someone who is highly disciplined and has loving support around him can make a lot of surface level, behavioral change. This is self-improvement, not Christianity.
What if you put on the new nature, what if you put on Christ without dealing with the old nature? That would be as ridiculous as Lazarus walking out of the tomb and refusing to take off the linen cloths. The grave clothes underneath and the linen layer on top of it must have smelled terribly after the body was decomposing for 4 days. And it restricted his mobility. He was literally bound. Why wouldn’t Lazarus want to remove the linen and the grave clothes? Of course, he wouldn’t resist people ripping off the linen and the old clothes.
Putting away the old and putting on the new. Both are necessary. You can’t mix the old and the new. You can take an old wineskin with a hole in it and patch it up with a piece of new wineskin. It doesn’t work. When new wine is poured into an old wineskin, the wine ferments and expands and because the old wineskin has lost its elasticity, it bursts. You can’t mix the old nature and the new. Both are important. You have to put off the old sinful nature and put on Christ.
How do we do this? Verse 9 gives us a helpful clue.
9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices…
The key word is “practices.” The old self with its practices. There are practices associated with the old self. If you indulge in sexual immorality with things you watch and things you listen to and things you engage in, you are strengthening your sinful nature. You are feeding the beast and sin, like a prowling lion, will devour you. If you nurse your wounds and grudges and you are in the practice of holding onto your anger and you allow it to harden into bitterness, and worst of all, unforgiveness, you are being bound again to elemental forces. You are losing the spiritual battle.
The adage “practice makes perfect” applies rather well to spiritual life. If you engage in practices that strengthen the sinful nature, you will be unspiritual and earthbound. On the other hand, if you engage in practices that strengthen your new nature by putting on Christ every day, then your new nature will be strengthened.
This explains why some Christians are saved but they don’t change. Salvation is not a one-time event. There is a point in time when every believer is saved and Col 1:13 – rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Son He loves. But that is only the beginning. The rest of the Christian life is a process of becoming more and more like Christ.
Col 3:12-17 [READ]
The qualities listed here include: heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, accepting one another, forgiving one another, love, peace, and thanksgiving. If you want to define what a Christian is and what a Christian looks like, here’s one list to start with. Jesus embodies all of these qualities. Jesus is compassionate, Jesus is kind, Jesus is humble and gentle, Jesus is patient, Jesus accepts and forgives us, Jesus is loving, Jesus he is more than merely peaceful, He is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is more than a thankful person, he is overflowing with thanksgiving. So when we put on Christ, we are putting these qualities into practice. You are living it out over and over again. And eventually, these things become second nature because Christ has changed you to the point that these qualities simply shine forth from your life without you even thinking about it.
When you put on clothes in the morning, I can kind of do it on autopilot. I spend about 10 seconds picking out a shirt and some pants and then I’m out the door. I don’t have to think about each step. Step one: put left leg in left side of the pants. Step two: put right leg in right side of the pants. Step three: pull up pants to waistline. No, these steps come naturally because you’ve been doing it every day of your life since you were 2 years old.
When an athlete practices the mechanics of shooting a basketball, he practices the motion over and over until his body has been trained to shoot even without thinking about it. In the beginning, he had to concentrate on the mechanics, but by the time he was a veteran in the NBA, he can do things on the court without giving even a second’s thought. This is muscle memory. The athlete practices the same move over and over during practice so that when he steps out onto the court, he can perform that move naturally.