Colossians 3:1-17

Sexual sins.  The vices are heavily weighted toward sexual sins:  “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires.”  Paul considered sexual relationships outside of marriage to be sinful, and the term sexual immorality runs the gammut of forbidden sexual acts.  Paul’s frequent warnings against it in his letters (see 1 Cor. 5:1, 9-10; 6:9; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:4) suggest that the society’s lax sexual mores were not easily weeded out from the habits of converts in his churches.  sexual desire is hardwired into the human psyche and is not evil in itself.  But the moral indifference of the age fuelled uncontrolled erotic passion, misdirected sexual desire, and bred sexual excesses.

The list is capped off by “greed, which is idlatry.”  Greed refers to the haughty and ruthless belief that everything including other persons, exists for one’s own moral amusement and purposes.  Essentially it turns our owndesires into idols.  It is the overweening desire to possess more and more things and to run roughshod over other persons to get them.  It stands opposed to the willingness to give to others regardless of the cost to self.  Greed can crave after persons and is never satiated by its conquests but always lusts for more.

In Hellenistic Jewish literature, all the sins of the pagan world were epitomized by references to their sexual immorality and their idolatry (see Rom. 1:18-32), and the two are interconnected.  Idolatry has as its chief purpose to get some material advantage from the gods, and idol worshipers tried to manipulate them to that end.  The lust for worldly possessions quickly elbows God from the center of our lives as it captivates our total allegiance.  We cannot serve both God and mammon, and those who serve mammon cannot serve God (Matt. 6:24).  Our desires sit on the throne of our hearts rather than God.

Paul concludes this list of vices by attesting that such behavior will incur God’s holy wrath (Rom. 1:18-32; Eph. 5:6).  Moule cites the even more heinous list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and comments that it “reveals the kind of life from which Christianity rescued people.”  They used to live that way because that lifestyle was normative for their society.”  People tend to live the same way that others around them live, adopting their standards, values, and ways of thinking.  The uncompramising morality of Judaism and Christianity probably attracted many Gentiles who were repulsed by the moral corruption of their society.  Christianity demands that Christ’s followers live worthily of him.  If avowed Christians behave no differently from their surrounding culture, they betray their calling and defame their faith. (This entire entry was taken from David E. Garland)

Colossians 3:1-17

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a]life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


  1. How can each of the first list of sins be related to sex?
  2. How can someone who thinks that sex is a gift from God be so sexually ‘restrictive’?
  3. How is sex used for selfish ends?
  4. If it is right for you to be sexually active, what does sex mean to you?
  5. How could you have an unhealthy view of sex (both a diminished view and an exaggerated view)?

Going Deeper

  • Would you agree that since the ‘sexual revolution’ society has become more free?  How is this freedom promoted today?  What has such sexual freedom failed to deliver?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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