Put to Death the Things of the Flesh
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
In setting our thoughts on things above, we are called to put to death everything that does not fall into the category of “things above.” What it deals with first is sins that are primarily interior sins. These are sins that take place in our hearts. Sins that are not as identifiable by the people around us. These are the most dangerous, because they can often go unseen. But what they primarily stem from is idolatry. Sexual immorality, impurity, and lust is an idolatry of personal satisfaction and pleasure. It’s unclear what evil desires specifically mean here, but it obviously is a desire for something other than God, which is once again idolatry. Finally, greed: a love and worship of money or things. This is idolatry.
Here, Paul is saying, “put these things to death, because they won’t last.” They are here today and gone tomorrow. None of what you sinfully desire will last into eternity with Christ, so don’t set your thoughts on it! It is because of these things that the wrath of God is coming. And then it says “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.” This is humbling. We were all once like this! Maybe it wasn’t necessarily sexual immorality, or greed, but Paul is pointing out an important truth here. We were all once lost, serving and worshipping our idols, whether it be sex, money, career, cars, houses, social status, family, children, ourselves.
We were all like this! But we were redeemed, and our sinful self was put to death in Christ, and our new life, raised from the tomb with Him is now hidden with Him at the right hand of God the Father!
So, because we WERE like this, but are like this no longer, verse 8, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
Paul has moved from addressing the inward-focused idolatry that brings about God’s wrath to calling out the outward-moving sins. These are sins that go beyond just corrupting our hearts and our minds. They hurt and damage those around us. They tear people down, ruin relationships, destroy marriages, tear apart families. Anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language. These things are not things from above. This is NOT what Paul is talking about when he tells us to set our minds on things above. These are the things that keep us from setting our minds on things above. We must rid ourselves of these things!