Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:5, 8, 12 (NIV)
Reading Colossians 3, Paul asks the Christians at Colossae to ‘put to death’ and ‘rid yourselves of’ those things that do not glorify God. The first list contains attributes of human nature. Some people consider that suppression of these attributes can lead to a repressed person, with many phobias. However, the Bible teaches us that these aspects of human nature should be controlled. The second list contain things that indicate how we choose to live out our lives. Taken together it is obvious how God sees these things and what he is asking us to do.
The Greek word translated as ‘put to death’ can mean ‘deprive of power’ or ‘destroy the strength of’. Both indicate an act of will that seeks to make these things impotent or powerless in our lives. This is not suppression, but overcoming.
While we are powerless to change ourselves, as we ‘clothe ourselves’ or ‘put on’ Christlike attributes, the human nature can and will recede. The key to this transformation is asking God to change us and being patient as he brings about that change. While becoming a Christian brings with it many instant changes, it also carries with it a refining process that starts at conversion and continues throughout our lives.
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