What Does Colossians 3:8 Mean?

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

Colossians 3:8(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

All of Paul's epistles are laid out in a structured way. He generally reminds us of our position and privileges in Christ and then continues by instructing us on how to live godly lives, and what worldly actions and attitudes need to be avoided. Earlier we are reminded that we have been raised up with Christ, Who is seated in heavenly places at the right hand of the Father, and we should set our minds on things above and not on earthly matters.

Christ is our very life. He is the fullness of life; eternal life and abundant life, and the day is coming when we will be with Him and be conformed into His image. For this reason we are called to be holy and to set aside the immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires and greed of the world. Jesus Himself reminded us... we are for Him or against Him. We are either saved or lost. We are either children of God, who have been imputed with His righteousness and saved from the wrath to come OR a child of Satan, who is under the wrath of God and an instrument of unrighteousness.

Once saved, our life is hidden with Christ in God and should reflect the beauty of His perfection. We should not continue in the ways of the world, which includes "anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech". We are instructed in this verse to "put them all aside!" We are to renounce all forms of evil, and rid ourselves of every kind of sin - including angry and passionate outbreaks, ill-will; evil speaking and foul-mouthed abuse, which should never even soil our lips.

Many of the sins listed in this verse are connected with sins of speech. Anger often is expressed in spiteful words or a hostile attitude. And although there is a godly anger which grieves over wrongs, lawlessness and sin, we should not become involved with the unrighteous anger expressed in this verse. Similarly, we are to abstain from ungodly wrath, which implies an inappropriate verbal outburst - laced with evil intent.

Malice in this verse suggest a violent temperament, designed to do harm to others and can often be spawned from the build-up of anger or hatred... and it can often explode into a myriad of ungodly thoughts or actions, while slander is connected with malicious lies; speaking evil of others or even participating in gossip or spreading cruel rumours.

The final part in Paul's list of verbal sins to avoid is "abusive speech", which implies participation in disgusting, unclean and obscene language. Indeed, the verse that follows includes the sin of "lying, in this catalogue of worldly activities and fleshly passions, which should be set aside. 

May we seek to put away all the things that dishonour the Lord. May the words we speak be honest and true. May our speech be wholesome and holy. May we speak the truth in love and live lives that honour our Father in heaven.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, how clearly Paul shows us the shocking way that words that come from our lips can be so dishonouring to You and abusive to others. I pray that the words I speak and the meditation of my heart may be honouring to Your holy name; give encouragement to others and always be spoken in love - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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