Paul has just warned and exhorted the Colossian church to deny legalistic and superstitious practices that were being taught by misguided leaders at best and impostors at worst. In place of earthly, fleshly, external rule keeping, Paul goes on to encourage them tin spiritual disciplines that will drive them to the mind of Christ.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. ~Colossians 3:1-2
Here’s a pretty easy to understand challenge, Christians. If you died with Christ – if you live in him – act like it. Concern yourself with the spiritual things, not the earthly. If you are his, you are dead to the world. Act like it. Here’s how:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another…~Colossians 3:5-9a
Kill sin. Like our old teacher John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” If you are tempted in any or all of these areas, you must cut them off. Stop. Stop doing them. Stop participating. Stop getting close to them. Avoid them at all personal costs. Get help. Be accountable.
Little wonder why his next admonition is, “Do not lie to one another.” When we refuse to repent we must instead work at the art of deceit and deny our sin to both self and others in order to keep it alive and thriving. It can be as subtle as down playing sin’s severity and effect in our lives, avoiding conversations about it, and hiding it away from others who will surely not approve. Do not lie to yourself about your sin. Kill it. Put it behind you. That is the old you, says Paul. You are a new person in Christ – if you are in Christ. He is all and in all for you. Act like it.
By the way, Paul adds, since you are God’s chosen people and you are getting rid of all that mess, replace it. Replace those evil things with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, love, peace, thanksgiving, admonition, and wisdom.
In other words, instead of selfishly using others to fulfill your own evil desires, honor them with the love of Christ. Instead of getting angry and holding grudges, forgive and be patient. Instead of lying and envying, admonish and encourage the good of others. It seems that the first list is rooted in self worship for our own benefits and the second is rooted in serving others for their benefit.
The principle is the same thing I always tell my kids, “Others first.” Christ rules. I do not. If Christ is not all to you, find out what is and kill the sin which makes it so by setting your mind upon Him.