We speak of criminals who are brought to Court and found guilty as then being “put away” for so many months or years. Paul uses this phrase “put away” (in the ESV translation) in describing certain things which should be permanently locked up and therefore have no freedom to do any damage, if that does not happen, then they are NOT “put away.” He tells the Colossians to “put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk” [3 v.8] Oh dear, have we got these things all locked up securely in prison? Let us make sure we have.
But there is another list of things that are to be “put to death”!!! [v.5] What are these? The first item on the list is “sexual immorality” Oh dear – we are surrounded by a lot more of that than when I was young. We cannot get rid of that which surrounds us, but we must prevent them from getting inside – and our prevention efforts are not going to work very well if we read books which are fictional stories about ungodly behaviour, watch TV shows that contain this, view DVDs and have close contact in one way or another anything that flaunts such ungodly behaviour.
The next item on the list is “impurity” which means what? Well it sounds rather general, the New English Bible has, “indecency” followed by similar words.
But – as the chapter proceeds, three times Paul uses the phrase “PUT ON” That’s in v.10, 12 and 14. “Put on then as God’s chosen ones” Do you see yourself as one of God’s chosen ones? Do you want to be one of those? So what do such people aim to “put on”?
“Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience … forgiving each other … above (or as well as) all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” [v.12-14]
So as one bad thing gets put out of the way – into jail – or killed; it needs to be replaced by something good. We cannot leave empty spaces in our heart! Well we can – but what happens then? Read the parable of Jesus Luke 11 v.24-26