Paul has spoken to Christians in chapter one of the greatness of salvation in Christ. The Christian has been delivered from the domain of darkness, transferred into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, a kingdom of light. Paul continued this theme in chapter 2, pointing out that the Christian has been forgiven his hostile disposition toward God and all the deeds that followed, through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross.

Paul began in chapter 3 emphasizing the union with Christ the believer has. He has been “raised with Christ.” He is a new creature with a new identity, joined with Christ, the heavenly hosts, and all the saints in heaven. Therefore he is to be heavenly minded, disposed toward the glory and will of God, and no longer driven toward the indulgence of the sinful nature.

Paul, in verse 5, speaks of the duty of Christians to seek to put to death remaining sin in them. He follows with sin that is particularly heinous in the sight of God; prevalent in human society because of the power of sinful desire. Paul says: “Put to death whatever is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”

Sexual immorality is any sexual activity or desire outside of marriage between one man and one woman. Paul links words like impurity, passion, and evil desire to depict this sin for what it is in God’s sight; unclean passion that is offensive to the holiness of God. God didn’t create men and women to this end. The Christian has been delivered from it and must now seek to put it to death.

Paul makes clear God’s disposition by saying the wrath of God is coming because of such things. The ugliness thereof, how opposite and distasteful it is to the Almighty, as appears in what happened to the old world in Noah’s day or Sodom. It is that for which God himself is against his own creature, and for which he will judge men as Paul warns very clearly here.

Sin is the cause of all the diseases and hardships that befalls the sons of men. It has its rise from the devil, who is the father of it, and whose lusts we do whenever we offend God. The greatness of Christ’s sacrifice is that he paid for sins such as this in us.

There is not the least sin but it is committed against an infinite majesty, against a good God, to whom we owe ourselves and all that we have, who waits when you will turn to him and live forever; but if you despise his goodness, and continue still to provoke the eyes of his glory, is a terrible and avenging God, who by no means will clear the guilty. 

Sin is the ruin of all comfort. That which we love more than our souls undoes us. It embitters every comfort. Our very prayers are offensive so long as we live in indulging known sin rather than turning from it to the living God. Paul warns us of God’s wrath that we might see the remaining sin in us for what it is: an enemy to our souls.

In order to die to sin we must grow in the love of God. The more we delight in him, the more we shall hate whatsoever is contrary to him. In that proportion that we are affected for God and his truth we will abhor every evil way, for these go together. Those who love the Lord will hate the thing that is offensive to him.

To strengthen our indignation against our own sin, we should drive our affections another way and set them upon the right object. A Christian should consider, why did God give me this affection of love? Was it to set it on this or that lust, or any sinful course? Or has he given me strong desires that I should indulge lusts he hates? The answer is no.

God’s ways, his truth, his kingdom, good to our neighbor are objects worthy of our affections, and Satan and the deeds of darkness the fittest subjects of our indignation and hatred. When we look to the cross, we remember Christ gave himself to God’s wrath so that we might be presented holy and blameless before God.  Therefore we should turn from those desires that war against our soul.