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Colossians 3:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Mortify, therefore, you members - Νεκρωσατε· Put them to death: the verb is used metaphorically to signify, to deprive a thing of its power, to destroy its strength. Use no member of your body to sin against God; keep all under dominion; and never permit the beast to run away with the man. To gratify any sensual appetite is to give it the very food and nourishment by which it lives, thrives, and is active. However the body may suffer by excessive sensual indulgences, the appetite increases with the indulgence. Deny yourselves, and let reason rule; and the animal will not get the ascendency over the rational man. See the notes on Romans 6:11, etc.

Inordinate affection - Παθος· Unnatural and degrading passion; bestial lusts. See Romans 1:26, Romans 1:27; and the notes there.

Evil concupiscence - Επιθυμιαν κακην . As επιθυμια signifies strong and vehement desire of any kind, it is here joined with κακη, evil, to show the sense more particularly in which the apostle uses it.

Covetousness, which is idolatry - For the covetous man makes his money his god. Now, it is the prerogative of God to confer happiness; every godly man seeks his happiness in God; the covetous man seeks that in his money which God alone can give; therefore his covetousness is properly idolatry. It is true his idol is of gold and silver, but his idolatry is not the less criminal on that account.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Mortify therefore your members - Since you are dead to sin and the world, and are to appear with Christ in the glories of his kingdom, subdue every carnal and evil propensity of your nature. The word mortify means to put to death (Romans 8:13, note; Galatians 5:24, note), and the meaning here is that they were entirely to subdue their evil propensities, so that they would have no remains of life; that is, they were not at all to indulge them. The word “members” here, refers to the different members of the body - as the seat of evil desires and passions; compare the notes at Romans 6:13. They were wholly to extirpate those evil passions which he specifies as having their seat in the various members of the earthly body.

Fornication - Notes, Romans 1:2.

Uncleanness - Notes, Romans 1:24.

Inordinate affection - πάθος pathosRendered in Romans 1:26, “vile affections;” see the notes at that verse. In 1 Thessalonians 4:5, the word is rendered “lust” - which is its meaning here.

Evil concupiscence - Evil desires; licentious passions; Romans 1:24. Greek.

And covetousness, which is idolatry - It is remarkable that the apostle always ranks covetousness with these base and detestable passions. The meaning here is:

(1) that it is a low and debasing passion, like those which he had specified; and,

(2) that it secures the affections which properly belong to God, and is, therefore, idolatry. Of all base passions, this is the one that most dethrones God from the soul. See this whole passage more fully explained in the notes at Ephesians 5:3-5.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
It is our duty to mortify our members which incline to the things of the world. Mortify them, kill them, suppress them, as weeds or vermin which spread and destroy all about them. Continual opposition must be made to all corrupt workings, and no provision made for carnal indulgences. Occasions of sin must be avoided: the lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world; and covetousness, which is idolatry; love of present good, and of outward enjoyments. It is necessary to mortify sins, because if we do not kill them, they will kill us. The gospel changes the higher as well as the lower powers of the soul, and supports the rule of right reason and conscience, over appetite and passion. There is now no difference from country, or conditions and circumstances of life. It is the duty of every one to be holy, because Christ is a Christian's All, his only Lord and Saviour, and all his hope and happiness.
Ellen G. White
Counsels on Stewardship, 26

Those who allow a covetous spirit to take possession of them cherish and develop those traits of character which will place their names on the record books of heaven as idolaters. All such are classed with thieves, revilers, and extortioners, none of whom, the word of God declares, shall inherit the kingdom of God. “The wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.” Covetous attributes are ever opposed to the exercise of Christian beneficence. The fruits of selfishness always reveal themselves in a neglect of duty, and in a failure to use God's entrusted gifts for the advancement of His work.—The Review and Herald, December 1, 1896. CS 26.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 337

We do not understand the greatness and majesty of God nor remember the immeasurable distance between the Creator and the creatures formed by His hand. He who sitteth in the heavens, swaying the scepter of the universe, does not judge according to our finite standard, nor reckon according to our computation. We are in error if we think that that which is great to us must be great to God, and that which is small to us must be small to Him. He would be no more exalted than ourselves if He possessed only the same faculties. 5T 337.1

God does not regard all sins as of equal magnitude; there are degrees of guilt in His estimation as well as in that of finite man. But however trifling this or that wrong in their course may seem in the eyes of men, no sin is small in the sight of God. The sins which man is disposed to look upon as small may be the very ones which God accounts as great crimes. The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven, while pride, selfishness, and covetousness go unrebuked. But these are sins that are especially offensive to God. He “resisteth the proud,” and Paul tells us that covetousness is idolatry. Those who are familiar with the denunciations against idolatry in the word of God will at once see how grave an offense this sin is. 5T 337.2

God speaks through His prophet: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts, are not your thoughts neither are your ways, My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” We need clear discernment, that we may measure sin by the Lord's standard and not by our own. Let us take for our rule, not human opinions, but the divine word. 5T 337.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 201

The Laodicean church really believed, and enjoyed the blessings of the gospel, and thought they were rich in the favor of God, when the True Witness called them poor, naked, blind, and miserable. This is the case with the church at Battle Creek and with a large share of those who profess to be God's commandment-keeping people. The Lord seeth not as man seeth. His thoughts and ways are not as our ways. 3T 201.1

The words and law of God, written in the soul, and exhibited in a consecrated, holy life, have a powerful influence to convict the world. Covetousness, which is idolatry, and envy, and love of the world, will be rooted from the hearts of those who are obedient to Christ, and it will be their pleasure to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God. Oh, how much is comprised in this, walking humbly before God! The law of God, if written in the heart, will bring the mind and will into subjection to the obedience of Christ. 3T 201.2

Our faith is peculiar. Many who profess to be living under the sound of the last message of mercy are not separated in their affections from the world. They bow down before the friendship of the world and sacrifice light and principle to secure its favor. The apostle describes the favored people of God in these words: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 3T 201.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 496

Of the millions of Israel there was but one man who, in that solemn hour of triumph and of judgment, had dared to transgress the command of God. Achan's covetousness was excited by the sight of that costly robe of Shinar; even when it had brought him face to face with death he called it “a goodly Babylonish garment.” One sin had led to another, and he appropriated the gold and silver devoted to the treasury of the Lord—he robbed God of the first fruits of the land of Canaan. PP 496.1

The deadly sin that led to Achan's ruin had its root in covetousness, of all sins one of the most common and the most lightly regarded. While other offenses meet with detection and punishment, how rarely does the violation of the tenth commandment so much as call forth censure. The enormity of this sin, and its terrible results, are the lessons of Achan's history. PP 496.2

Covetousness is an evil of gradual development. Achan had cherished greed of gain until it became a habit, binding him in fetters well-nigh impossible to break. While fostering this evil, he would have been filled with horror at the thought of bringing disaster upon Israel; but his perceptions were deadened by sin, and when temptation came, he fell an easy prey. PP 496.3

Are not similar sins still committed, in the face of warnings as solemn and explicit? We are as directly forbidden to indulge covetousness as was Achan to appropriate the spoils of Jericho. God has declared it to be idolatry. We are warned, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24. “Take heed, and beware of covetousness.” Luke 12:15. “Let it not be once named among you.” Ephesians 5:3. We have before us the fearful doom of Achan, of Judas, of Ananias and Sapphira. Back of all these we have that of Lucifer, the “son of the morning,” who, coveting a higher state, forfeited forever the brightness and bliss of heaven. And yet, notwithstanding all these warnings, covetousness abounds. PP 496.4

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