Put off these
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
We shall now look at the last part of those things we are to mortify: covetousness, which is idolatry.
It seems strange that Paul says that covetousness is idolatry, so let us consider this in some detail.
A3.1 Put off to put on
The second thing we are exhorted to do is to “put off” certain things. The word used here means to put off from oneself. It is used of those who took off their garments and put them down when they stoned Stephen, Acts 7:58. It is also used for the laying aside every” weight and sin which so easily beset us”, Heb.12:1.
The idea therefore, is that these attitudes and actions are like clothing that we have to take off. It is something that we are responsible for.
..let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light ….but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.
The point being made is that we are to put off these things in order to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
A3.2 Put off the old ways
…put off the former conversation the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts and be renewed in the spirit of your mind that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Conversation here meaning one’s manner of life. In scripture garments tend to symbolise character whether godly or wicked, eg. Job 29:14; Ps. 35:26; 73:6; 132:9; Isa. 11:5; 59:17. So we have the sense that our former way of living has to be discard as a worn out inappropriate garment. Instead we are then to put something else on, Christ’s Himself, His character and likeness.
What then does Paul exhort us to put off. In this section we can divide the list into two sections: those from the heart, and those that come out of the mouth.
A3.3 From the heart
Wrath being a settled indignation in the heart when it is in a rage. Anger being outbursts of rage. It is these we are to put off. And Malice is the intention or desire to do evil to someone. None of these things ought to be found in the child of God, we have the responsible to put these things off.
Many scriptures exhort us to do so:
..let every man be swift to hear slow to speak, slow to wrath. For the wrath of man does worketh not the righteousness of God.
He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding, but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly
A3.4 From the mouth
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
The believer may have a new heart, but the old habits of thoughts, habits etc. have to be dealt with, otherwise they will take root once more and become sin, Jms.1:13-15. We are exhorted not just to put of anger etc., but also these things that come out of the mouth.
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
James speaking to Christians! Out of the same mouth blessings and cursings! What a state to be in! We need to put these things off.
In Ephesians Paul says a very similar thing
Let not corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good tot eh use of edifying, that it may minister grace untot eh hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Instead of using our faculties for evil communication we are to use them for good and for edifying. So put off lying, and evil communications. That could be anything, such as deliberately, mis-representing a brother or sister.
Even blasphemy! How can a believer do that? One example is not speaking that which is right concerning God as Job’s friends did, Job.42:7. Relating to that is the warnings we have emphasised in Colossians. Namely, thinking we can improve our Christian life by introducing man made ideas of Philosophy etc. For by doing so we are saying God’s way of salvation is insufficient.
We have the responsibility of putting off the old man and putting on the new. Being born again changes our inward disposition, the question for us is: are we going to put off the old and put on the new, or are we going to be carnal in our daily walk? We have to work out what God has already worked in us.
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.