Daily Devotion: Transformed Speech (Colossians 3:7-8)

“In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” ~ Colossians 3:7-8

Explanation of the Text: Like verse 5, Paul follows up his notation about God’s wrath with an exhortation to once again put off other sins. His premise is based on the fact that there is not new life in Christ, and therefore, they should get rid of the sin that is in conflict with God’s holiness. A life before Christ is characterized by the very sin that those who now live in Christ must hate. The fact that they had once walked in these ways indicates that this was their life’s behavior.[1] However, the fact that it is in the past tense denotes that this was a former life and no longer should these be the ways of one who is a genuine follower of Jesus Christ.

Paul then explains what it is that they formerly walked in that should now be put away. This particular list focuses on the sins of speech. Speech is a big deal in the New Testament, as we see in the book of James. With our speech, we can tear people down, we can blaspheme God, we can cause hurt that takes years to repair. Thus, the seriousness of the sins of speech cannot be overemphasized, especially since it is so easy for so many of us to fall into it. Sometimes….most of the time……we fail to recognize the power that words have and the impact that they can have on the person they are being said to. It is for that reason, we must be careful in what we say and how we say it, and thus Paul calls on people to put off anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk. It is noted that falsehood, lying which is implied by the obscene talk, is linked to being members in the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:25) and that it is an attempt to gain an advantage over someone, which is inconsistent with the Christian love that should characterize a believer’s life.[2] Overall, the sins listed here by Paul “are precisely the sins of speech that make harmonious human relationships impossible.”[3]

Examination & Application of the Text: “The combined force of all that Paul is saying here points to our need as Christians to not only be conscious of the many ways we sin against God and against other people; but, more than that, to be deliberate and ruthless in the way we deal with it.”[4] First off, there is a need to recognize the seriousness of the sins of speech. The second is to transform our speech into Christlikeness as part of the transformational process that we undergo as believers in Christ. However, this is not something we can do on our own, but rather, it is something that the Holy Spirit does to us through conviction.

There is also this aspect of the mind. It is the mind that controls who we are. When the mind has determined something to be true, the rest of the self responds to that. Therefore, it is important for the mind to be transformed first in order for the speech to be transformed. This requires filling one’s mind with the things of God, thus being in His word and having communion with Him. It can then be expected that our sinful speech will be transformed into Christlike speech in which our words are seasoned with the love of God, even in times of discipline. Out of the speech another can recognize the compassion and care that instead characterizes (or should characterize) a believer’s life.

[1] Homer A. Kent, Jr., Treasures of Wisdom: Studies in Colossians & Philemon (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), 115.

[2] David E. Garland, Colossians/Philemon, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 206.

[3] R.C. Lucas, The Message of Colossians & Philemon, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 145.

[4] Mark G. Johnston, Let’s Study Colossians and Philemon (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2013), 953

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