Colossians 3:1-17

The Spiritual Integrity of a Holy Life

       November 23, 2003.                      © 2003, J.W. Carter              Scripture quotes from KJV

Paul's letter to the Colossians was written during his imprisonment in Rome in response to a visit from Epaphras, their pastor-leader.  The church was in tremendous conflict due to the infiltration of false doctrines and practices among their members.  Immersed in an ancient pagan society, the church was under tremendous pressure to conform to its pagan ways and practices as members brought their world view into the church with them.  Some of these were influential enough in the church to move members away from the truth of the gospel.  Included among there were also some of Jewish background who sought to add the works of the law to the simple work of grace, imposing such rules on the Christian members.  In the previous chapters Paul first defended the supremacy of Christ over these other beliefs, defended his position as an apostle of the true gospel, and exposed the false doctrines and incorrect behaviors that had been introduced to the church.  Now, following this exposition, Paul begins to present a very practical solution to the problem by presenting a discussion of appropriate Christian behavior..

Colossians 3:1.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  

What is it that you hope for in this life?  Much of the error in doctrine and practice that is introduced into the faith comes from looking for the truth in the wrong places.  People put their trust in other people, particularly their leadership.  They put their trust in financial security.  They seek out those things that will bring them peace and security.  However, when they look for those things in the context of this world, they are disappointed and shaken when the basis of their security fails.  When a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, a change in direction takes place.  This concept of repentance involves, not just repenting from specific sins, but repenting from the ways of this world.  A Christian's focus should turn to God, and instead of seeking peace and security in this world, true peace and security can be found in the Kingdom of God.  Turning our focus to God is not a suggestion; it is a command given by Jesus Christ in the many times He said, "follow me."  Jesus, the man is also Jesus Christ, the Messiah who now "sits at the right hand of God."  The imperative of Paul is clear:  turn your focus to things of God and seek Him for the truth rather than rely on the teachings and culture of this world.

The word used for "seek" uses a verb tense that does not exist in the English language, but is commonly used in Greek scripture.  English makes use of past, present, and future tenses.  The Greek language has several others including a tense referred to as the "aorist" tense.  This verb tense is used to describe an action that is continuing in nature.  "Seek" is implied in the English to be present tense, but in the aorist tense it means to "continually seek."  Paul is literally saying that those who have come to a saving faith in Christ should be continually seeking after those things of God.

As a Bible teacher, I am always encouraged when I see a Christian exhibiting this characteristic of continual seeking.  They can be described by an unusual Greek word, animipseusmecox.   There is no English word that really captures this characteristic of an individual who has an "active curiosity" that is motivated enough to put that curiosity into active searching.  Holy living is characterized by (1) being risen with Christ, and (2) having that continual, active curiosity that motivates one to find the answers, and looks to God and His word for those answers rather than in the things of this world..

Colossians 3:2.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  

This statement is a continuation of the previous statement and carries a similar, yet subtly different message.  Just as a Christian should be seeking those things that are of God, his/her personal desires should be turned there also.  Where verse 6 tends to refer to matters of the mind, verse 7 refers to the matters of the heart.  Where are your desires focused?  Are you attracted by the lusts of the flesh, lusts for riches or other things of this world?  If one spends any time watching commercial television it is impossible to avoid the high-dollar hype that is designed to convince listeners that they need those products that are sold.  Commercials describe shiny cars, new fashions, and any other number of products that they want to convince you that you need.  The programming shows beautiful people in beautiful clothes driving beautiful cars, etc, implying that there is some similarity between this programming and the real world.  As a result, people want to be like those stars they see on the media, not knowing or caring that even those stars are usually lost and miserable as they are seeking themselves for things of this world.  It is natural for us to desire the good things of this world, and not everything in the world is evil.  However, a life that is characterized by spiritual integrity is one that desires things from above over things of this world.  

Colossians 3:3.

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  

What does it mean to be dead?  Death does not mean an end, nor does it refer to annihilation.  Death literally means "separation."  When we experience the death of a love one, it is separation from them that we experience.  Christians can have the peace of the knowledge that this separation from loved ones who are saved is only for a short time.  Paul uses this same term for death to describe the relationship between the Christian and the world.  A Christian is dead to the world.  That is, a Christian who exhibits spiritual integrity is separated from the world in many ways.  Instead of being a child of the world, as all Christians were before coming to faith in Christ, a Christian is a child of God who is subject to all of the privileges of an heir.   By "hid with Christ," Paul is referring to the eternal protection that God provides the Christian.  While separated from this world, the Christian is safe with God.  The Christian has been separated from this world and never needs to worry about losing that safety with God.  God is the one who saves, and it is God who is the one who secures and preserves the salvation of every Christian.  A life that is characterized by Christian integrity is one that recognizes that separation from this world, and lives a life apart, rejecting those things of the world that do not edify the relationship with God.  

Colossians 3:4.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 

The life of a Christian is no longer a life of this world, but is alive in Christ, and in Him alone.  It is Christ who is the power and the light of the life of a Christian.  Even though we seem to sometimes be walking in the muck and mire of this world and find ourselves stained from it, all Christians can be encouraged to know that Jesus will come again to receive those who have placed their faith and trust in Him, and receive them He will.

Recall the state of the Colossian church at this time, and what the impact of these four verses can have on their lives.  The church is in conflict because the congregation is fragmented into cliques that each are taking off in a different direction behind the leadership of a false teacher.  They are seeking truth in the wrong places and are frustrated for it.  In the years since they first heard the truth, they have wandered from it to the point where they are willingly following leaders who espouse some very incorrect doctrine, doctrines that replace the gospel, and prevent its disciples from understanding the nature of true saving faith.  The leaders develop a relationship with their followers, but the followers are prevented from forming a relationship with God.  Paul is telling these folks, as he is telling us, to turn their minds and hearts away from the things of this world and to the things of God, as they are to be separated from this world (holy) and as that separation from this world is experienced now, the reward will be an eternal relationship with God.  That is the simple and earnest reward of faith.  All of the doctrines, teachings, rituals, and requirements that the false teachers place on those in the church tend to become powerless when confronted by the knowledge of God's true plan and purpose.  

Colossians 3:5-6.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

Here Paul lists some of the attitudes and actions that are consistent with a love for this world, and calls upon Christians to separate themselves far from it.  "Mortify" carries the same message as verse 3, that a Christian is to be dead to this lifestyle.  It may be almost amazing to think that this list characterizes the membership of the church in Colossae.  However, the list of anti-virtues listed here were actually considered the appropriate form of expression of many of the pagan religions and rites that these people were all-too familiar with.  

"Members" refers to the actions of the physical body, not to the membership of the church.   Paul lists actions of the body and mind that are inappropriate for the Christian who has his heart and mind set on things of God.  They are normal actions for a person who does not.  Again, in the aorist tense, Paul is using the strongest term to express the need to continually separate ones self from the actions of the list to follow.  Paul literally says, "Put these things to death,", nekrosate.

1.  Fornication, porneia.  This refers to improper sexual actions of any kind.  The ancient Greek culture was permeated by fornication to the point where inappropriate sexual behavior was the accepted norm.  They believed that the gratification of sexual desires in the most lewd manner possible would excite the fertility gods into fornicating among themselves, a necessity for fertility in crops, animals, and man.  By the time that Paul is writing, pedophilia is considered a virtue, and homosexuality is considered as normal as heterosexuality.  With a culture so steeped in this sensual and gratifying world view, it is no wonder that the church had to deal with it.  Today we see just a glimpse of this as our modern culture is coming to embrace more and more the philosophies of ancient Greece.  Our culture is largely driven by our entertainment and media industry that together espouse a culture of fornication, and recently many different denominations are struggling with pressure to accept it within the church and even among its leadership.  The truth of God's purpose is clear:  a life that is characterized by spiritual integrity does not engage in fornication of any kind.  Sexual relationships are to be exercised within the confines of the marriage of a man and a woman only.  Such relationships outside of that holy bond are simply fornication.

2.  Uncleanness, akatharsia.  This refers to impurity in attitudes and actions.  This has a broader scope than the fornication that refers to physical sexual activity.  A mind and heart that is focused on things above should not be stained by the impurities of this world.  To allow impurities to be part of a Christian's life is the very definition of hypocrisy.  A Christian is to be characterized by spiritual integrity.  The spirituality that is evident in the life of a Christian should be consistent, unaltered by circumstance or surroundings.  How many times have Christians been criticized for being one person when within the church facility and quite another when outside of its doors?  This is a Christian who still hangs onto the pleasures and sins of the world, and has not separated him/herself from it.  I sometimes refer to this person as a spiritual schizophrenic who harbors multiple personalities.  Such impurity is inappropriate for the Christian.  It is certainly evident that the church in Colossae suffered from this malady.  Paul instructs Christians to "put to death" this form of uncleanness.

3.  Inordinate affection, pathos.  This word can be simply translated as, "lust."  When we think of this word, we are probably first drawn to consider lust to be an inappropriate and strong sexual desire.  However, the Greek word that is used has a broader definition.  People can lust after things other than sexual gratification.  People can lust after material things of this world such as money or possessions.  People can lust after power or recognition.  People can lust after anything that brings gratification to the flesh and to the worldly heart.  Paul also states that Christians are to "put to death" the lusts of this life.  A Christian who has spiritual integrity will be characterized by a lack of submission to the lusts of this world.  When one turns their heart and mind to God, the importance of these worldly lusts fades away.  If you are a Christian who deals with the struggle of lusts, try this simple formula:   when the desire to follow a lust arises, simply stop everything you are doing and pray with sincerity and focus for God to help you past this moment of distraction.  God can give the sincere Christian the power to overcome those inappropriate desires.  Note that this was particularly hard for the Colossian Christians who had been taught by their culture that the gratification of fleshy lusts was the most important activity that one could be engaged in.  Our modern culture is heading in that direction.

4.  Evil concupiscence.  Where lusts tend to stem from emotional desires, concupiscence refers to a more general form of desire for things that are not of God.  Just as uncleanness is a broadening of the more specific porneia,  Evil concupiscence is a broadening of the more specific pathos.  This term refers to the embracing of the evil things of this world, attitudes and actions that can range from engaging in ungodly activities to giving them passive support.  Personally, I am disappointed every Halloween when I see Christians taking part in this activity, ignorant of its true meaning.  When we observe bigotry, hatred, disrespect, and other worldly attitudes exhibited by people, we often find Christians among their members.  The Old South of the United States was famous for the bigotry of its white church leadership and membership towards the black population.  This is a form of evil concupiscence.  Christians are to "put to death" any ungodly attitude or action that, though it may be accepted by the worldly culture, is not an expression of agape love.  A Christian can use a simple test to determine concupiscence:  if you are engaged in any attitude or action that Jesus would not gladly share with you ... it is to be rejected as ungodly.  A life of spiritual integrity is characterized by the rejection of attitudes and actions that one would not gladly do alongside with Jesus.

5.  Covetousness.  Related to lust, this word refers simply to greed.  We see greed around us everywhere we look.  Greed is the inordinate desire to accumulate something of value.  Our first thoughts of greed probably turn to the greed for money and possessions.  However, there are many other areas where greed can be expressed.  In some circles, it is a greed for control of others, and the church is not insulated from this sin.  Greed is expressed by the desire to take from others anything that would be used for one's own benefit without other's regard.  Any form of greed is contrary to the spirit of agape love.  Christians are to "put to death" any form of greed.

6.  Which is idolatry.  All of these five characteristics of an ungodly life are examples of idolatry.  An idol is simply anything that is given authority other than God.  An automobile can be an idol if it has some control over an individual either by lust or by the inordinate work that is necessary to keep it.  How many people are willing to carry a car payment that is a burden when at the same time their giving to the Lord is diminished?  If this is the case, the car is an idol.  The ancient Colossians probably did not consider the above list to be examples of idolatry since their culture considered all of them to be part of an appropriate expression of pagan faith.  All we need to do is remember that Satan is prince of this world, and is the Lord of idolatry.  He will take advantage of the lusts of the flesh and the pride of worldly life to keep a person from obtaining a relationship with God.  Satan can use anything that can come between a person and his relationship with God as an idol.  A Christian who exhibits spiritual integrity will not allow any lust or desire to be expressed in a way that is ungodly.

All of these things are looked upon by God with wrath.  Wrath is a good word, worth investigating.  When we think of a person who is wrathful, they are so angry that they are out of control.  We can understand that God does not lose control.  God's wrath is simply the expression of the way that He must respond to sin in order to be a Holy God.  Sin separates a person from a relationship with God, so the wrath of God is simply expressed by one's separation from Him.  To be completely separated from God and His influence is probably an unimaginable concept.  The scriptural writers have used numerous metaphors to try to describe the agony of hell, the eternal separation from God.  Separation from God is the expression of God's wrath, and an eternal hell is its end.  God separates Himself from these objects of sin and those who ascribe to them.  

As the Colossians observe the teachings of the false teachers and the teachings of Paul they can but only see the sharp contrast in what they have been hearing and the truth of the gospel.  It may be appropriate for some Christians today to heed these same words and remove from their life those things would that separate them from fellowship with God, and turn fully to Him, rejecting those things in their life that God would reject.

Finally, Christians can all remember that there was a life before turning to Christ that should be in a similarly sharp contrast to the life lived in faith.  Christians are to "put to death" that old life where they followed the ways of this world, and turn fully to the ways of God.

Colossians 3:8.

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  

Paul then continues to list a set of actions that are inappropriate for a Christian.  Unlike the list of verse 5 that refers to lifestyle issues, this list goes further to list issues that arise from emotional responses to events that occur in relationship with others.  The word translated "put off" refers to the laying aside of something, as one would with an unneeded article of clothing.  When dealing with the previous list, a lifestyle change is needed.  In this list, all that is required is a simple decision to exercise some self-control, a fruit of the Spirit, and choose not to allow these ungodly actions to be expressed.

1.  Anger.  Anger is simply an emotion, albeit a strong one, that all people experience in response to various forms of conflict.  Anger can be both an appropriate and positive response to some situations.  Jesus was angry at the merchants and  moneychangers who took over the temple area and drove them out of that sacred place.  Anger can be a powerful motivation to respond constructively to an injustice.  The anger that Paul describes is one that is not tempered by the self-control and direction of the Holy Spirit.  This is an anger that is both unjustified and uncontrolled such as the anger of a spouse toward another that results in abuse.   Anger is the normal and appropriate response to many situations.  What is done with that anger is what defines spiritual integrity.  

2.  Wrath.  The word used for wrath has a similar application as the word for anger, and some scholars choose not to differentiate between them.  However, I would disagree, for if Paul considered the words to be synonymous, he would not insert the second word.  Sinful anger can be expressed quietly and remain unobserved by others.  Wrath is anger expressed in action.  Wrath takes anger one step further and actively engages in some form of  response that is designed to fight back or reconcile the conflict.   Where anger is more of a disposition of the heart, wrath is the expression of that anger with action.

3.  Malice.  Malice is another expression of anger that goes a step further than wrath.  Malice is an expression of anger that is fully intended on injuring the person or people who are the objects of wrath.  This is one area where the Christian must check the progression of sin.  Even a righteous anger can get out of control and become wrathful, yet the individual might not sin.  

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil."  Eph. 4:26-27.

However, the Christian who expresses spiritual integrity will not allow wrath to move on to malice.  Rather than seeking to hurt the one who is the object of anger, a Christian continues to love that individual or individual and may pray for reconciliation or redemption.  Agape love gives the Christian the capacity to love the unlovely, and it is best expressed in situations where phileo love, the brotherly love that the world understands, would fail.

4.  Blasphemy.  Where anger, wrath, and malice can be expressed in many ways, blasphemy is an expression of words, whether spoken or written.  The English word comes directly from the Greek, so its definition is clear.  Blasphemy refers to words that are spoken in in malice.  Words of blasphemy are meant to injure another through libel, slander, or simply insult.  

5.  Filthy communication.  In today's vernacular, this is simply a "foul mouth."  There are many words in every language that are considered to be swearing, foul, or dirty.  These words are spoken for impact or for the empowering of the speaker over another.  During my own short stint in the military (during the Vietnam war) I was surrounded by foul language, immersed in it to the point that some of those words slipped into my own vocabulary.  It was necessary to "put off" those words.  Such words are an inappropriate expression of the Christian.  A Christian who exhibits spiritual integrity will completely refrain from foul language.

Colossians 3:9-10.

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:  

Now Paul gets into the specific issue of integrity.  When Paul refers to dishonesty, he simply says, "do not do it."  Dishonesty is a trait of the sinful man, the natural man, the one who is a child of the world who's lord is Satan.  There is no place for dishonesty in the life of a Christian because that "old man" has been put off, or set aside.  When one comes to Christ, the Holy Spirit gives an immediate knowledge of right and wrong simply through the understanding that Christians are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and are called to emulate Him.  God is not dishonest, and his words are completely reliable.  Consequently, a Christian, by choice, can also live a life that is characterized by honesty and integrity, and this is the life that all Christians are called to.  A Christian who exhibits spiritual integrity simply will not lie, and can be fully trusted by those around him/her.

Colossians 3:11.

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.  

Another trait of the "old man" that is to be "put off" is bigotry.  Certainly there was bigotry expressed in ancient Greece, and here Paul lists some of the fragmentation of society that was subject to it.  The first that is listed is the bigotry expressed between Greeks and Jews, broadened by the definition "circumcision nor uncircumcision."  Paul then includes the contrast of the "Barbarian," a general term for those who are considered socially ignorant or base.  In modern culture, these would be those people who are considered the lowest level of social sophistication.  "Scythian" refers to foreigners who share neither their language or the culture.  There is no place for bigotry of any kind in the heart of a Christian who exhibits spiritual integrity.  The bigotry of the "old man" is replaced by the love of Christ for all people in the heart of a true believer.   Bigotry is a powerful attitude that can be difficult to bring under control, and can only be done so through God's love.  I am extremely disappointed when i see bigotry expressed by members of the church.  Such behavior is completely inappropriate and should be "put off" along with the other sins that Paul has listed.  Probably no person, whether Christian or non-Christian is completely free of prejudice, so this is an issue that requires constant vigilance.

Colossians 3:12.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 

Paul has been describing some of the sins of the "old man" that must be "put off" when one comes to accept Jesus Christ as Lord.  Certainly, the putting off of these sins is a process, one that requires prayer, and volitional action.  Now, Paul lists some of the traits that a Christian is to "Put on" when he/she comes to faith in Jesus Christ.  These are traits that are godly and appropriate behaviors, and serve to replace the behaviors of sin.  First, why are Christians to "put on" such godly traits?  First, Paul describes Christians as the "elect of God."  This word "elect" is similar to the word, "adopted" and the metaphor of adoption works well to describe the nature of what God has done when he accepts a repentant sinner into His family.  As a "child of God" a Christian is to be separated from the world.  Described earlier by the word "death," here separation is described by the word, "holy."  Holiness also refers to a separation, but in this case specifically refers to a separation from the world for God's purpose.  Consequently, God is Holy.   Christians are called to be holy and it is through spiritual integrity that holiness is expressed.  This act of God that brings sinful mankind to a relationship with Himself is an expression of His love for us.  It is much easier to put off the sins of this world when we recognize that they are an expression of the sin in our hearts that is motivated by Satan who hates us, and put on the virtues of the Holy Spirit that are an expression of God who loves us.

":Bowels of mercies" is a strange phrase in modern English simply refers to a compassion that comes from deep within the heart.  Such compassion is motivated by God's agape love, and can be expressed to all people.  When the old man responds in anger, the new man would respond in love because of the compassion that is felt towards the one who would otherwise be the object of that anger.  Compassion is an appropriate expression of God's love.

"Kindness" is related to compassion, and is the expression of that compassion.  A Christian who exhibits spiritual integrity would never respond to another individual in an unkind manner.

Humility of the mind simply is an acknowledgement of who one really is:  a lost sinner who has been saved by God.  No person deserves this salvation for anything they have done, and no person is therefore ranked any higher than another.  One of my favorite clichés is, "the ground is level at the foot of the cross."  The same Holy Spirit speaks to every Christian, so no Christian has spiritual authority over another.  Jesus is the only Spiritual authority in the Church.  Consequently, it is not appropriate for any Christian to be haughty or arrogant, or to think that he/she is better than another. 

"Meekness" is another trait that is to be "put on," and like the other traits, is done so by choice.  In the Greek, "meeking" is the act of breaking a horse of its wild nature and training it for the bridle.  Meekness simply refers to "strength under control."  A horse is not weakened by the bridle.  Instead, the strength of the horse is brought under control and focused to a useful purpose.  Likewise, the strengths of an individual that might include talents and abilities are not weakened by faith, but are instead focused for use in God's kingdom.  Often people have asked what it is that they should be doing for the kingdom.  I would often counsel, "what do you enjoy doing?", "what are you good at?"  I then counsel them to simply apply them to the furtherance of God's kingdom.  That way, their strengths are brought under God's control and utilized for His purpose:  meeking in action.

"Longsuffering" refers to patience.  A Christian who exhibits spiritual integrity demonstrates patience in their life.  They are not going to simply react to every passing stimulus, but will respond in a way that is an appropriate expression of God's love.  Both Paul and James teach that experience is the hard teacher of patience and wisdom.  Still, one can learn patience without having to experience suffering.  Expressed patience is a choice, one borne out of love for and dependence upon God.

Colossians 3:13-14.

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  

Paul continues to describe how patience is applied in our relationships with one another.  The patience that Paul refers to is motivated, again, by God's love, a love that "bears all things."  It is easy to be forbearing with one who we love.  It is easier to forgive one who we love.    When we remember the forgiveness that we have been given by God, it is easier to forgive one another.  God forgave us because He loves us.  Consequently, it is that same love (described as charity in the KJV) that motivates a Christian to forgive.  A Christian who exhibits spiritual integrity will be one who is patient with other people and is very quick to forgive.

Colossians 3:15.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  

The dominant nature of the heart of a mature Christian is peaceful.  Rather than letting turmoil take over, the Christian has the resources to turn to God for strength and direction, and find peace.  The gospel is a gospel of peace and reconciliation, and likewise the Church is called as one body to have a similar nature.  Just as the heart of a Christian should be a peace, the Church should also be at peace for the same reasons.  A church in turmoil or conflict is in that state only because of the expressed sins of its members, sins that have been exposed in these previous verses.  Let us be reminded that Paul was writing to a church in conflict, one that was brought about by this long list of sins described in Chapter 3.  Consequently, no Church is, by nature, immune from similar conflict because people bring their sins into the church with them.  Still, if Christians are forbearing with one another, will express love with one another, conflict can be abated by loving and teaching those who have not yet come to deal with their expressed sin nature.  Those who are embroiling conflict are not at peace in their hearts, and through God, that peace can be found.   Christians, consequently, should never fail to be thankful to God for what He has done.

Colossians 3:16-17.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Paul ends this treatise on spiritual integrity with an instructional blessing.  It is Paul's hope that the "word of God" would dwell fully in the hearts of the receivers of his letter.  The members of the Colossian church have allowed themselves to wander from God's Word and accept authority from other sources.  God's Word is the only authority for a Christian, and can be found in scripture, through prayer, witnessed through the testimony of other Christians, and through other ways that God makes His will known.  In order for us to learn God's Word, it is necessary that those who are more learned in it would teach it to others.  If we fail to teach God's Word, the church will fall away into error.  Many modern churches today have replaced the teaching and admonishing in God's Word with the sharing of modern philosophies and politically correct issues.  These churches are falling away from the truth of the Gospel.  It is no wonder that we see them struggling with their acceptance of the sins of the world within their membership.

As a "music person" I have always liked this verse, as Paul encourages Christians to express their thanksgiving and praise to the Lord through psalms (poetry and specifically that from the book of Psalms), hymns, and spiritual songs.  As a minister of music I am often called upon to organize the music that is expressed in worship.  I have always liked to mix all three of these forms in worship, when possible, or appropriate.  Through these, it is always my hope that people will sing these, not to each other, but to God in worship, a worship that comes from the heart.  A Christian who exhibits spiritual integrity is one who worships God from the heart.

Finally, Paul states that all that is done by those who take on the name of Christ would be one in the name of the Lord Jesus.  This does not mean simply tacking on the word, "Jesus" to what is done, but rather it means that all that is done is consistent with who Jesus is.  All that is done is empowered by the Holy Spirit rather than by the power of the doer.  For it is through Jesus that we have received grace.  It is through Jesus alone that we have been given the salvation that is an eternal relationship with a loving God.  For that Christians can never fail to give thanks.

These verses comprise a detailed description of the sins that are to be put-off, and the virtues that are to be put-on by a Christian as one grows in the knowledge of Him.  Let each of us who claim to have surrendered to the Lordship of Christ look into our own lives and examine the very recesses of our attitudes and actions and go through Paul's process of "putting  off" and "putting on" so that our lives might be characterized by a holy spiritual integrity that God deserves.  It will be only through such integrity that Christians will be an effective witness and make a real difference in this wicked world.