Christians Hold to His Teachings
Colossians 3:5 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. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must 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. (NIV)
The Apostle Paul has just written that the coming of Christ cancelled the requirements of complying with the Old Testament ceremonial laws of Holy days, animal sacrifice, not eating certain foods, and other religious rituals. However, Paul wants us to know that we still have responsibilities as Christians. Since the word translated “Christian” in the Greek is “Christianos” and means “follower of Christ”, we are to imitate Christ in His words and deeds.
People are not Christians just because they have been baptized in water. The baptism in water is their announcement to the world that they have given themselves to Christ and made Him their Lord. It means they have given control over to Him. He is the boss of their lives and they will obey Him. So, in this passage, Paul gives us Christ’s rules for Holy living which Christians will follow if they are truly Christians, “followers of Christ”.
The act of being fully immersed in water during our water baptism signifies that we have died to our old selves, our “earthly nature.” We are declaring that this will no longer be our nature, our lifestyle. Paul identifies some of the sins of our earthly nature as “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed.” All sin is idolatry because we are making that action our god for the moment, turning our backs on the true God. The word translated “sexual immorality” in this passage is “porneia”, which is where we get our word pornography. It represents any sexual act or thought outside of God’s sacred marriage between one man and one woman. The “wrath of God” will come against those who live a lifestyle of sin, their earthy nature (vv.5-6).
Before we were Christians our sin nature ruled (v.7). But now we have new rules. Paul writes of more rules for Holy living identifying the sins of anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying (vv.8-9). These actions are all a part of our earthly nature and must be “put to death” if we are truly a follower of Christ, a Christian. As Christians we are renewed by knowledge to imitate Christ (v.10). This knowledge is the teaching of Christ, the Bible. So, discipleship is required in order to be a true Christian.
If you are truly a Christian you are a disciple: “The disciples were called Christians…” (Acts11:26). And if you are truly a disciple you follow the teachings of Christ: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples’ ” (John 8:31). Christianity and discipleship go hand in hand. No matter what you call yourself, you are not a Christian if you are not a disciple, and you are not a disciple until you hold to the teachings of the Bible. So, if you are not holding to the teachings of the Bible you are not a Christian.
This explains the discrepancy in the numbers of Christians in America today. As many as eighty percent of Americans claim to be Christians. Yet roughly fifty percent of Americans support abortion and same sex marriage. This means about thirty percent of the eighty percent who claim to be Christians are not holding to the teachings of the Bible. Therefore, in reality, about fifty percent of Americans are truly Christians. Those are the ones who are holding to the teachings of the Bible.
Online Bible Commentary