Lesson: VA1 - Since You Were Raised With Christ - Page 1 - (series: Lessons on Colossians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)


Tom Lowe

Lesson: VA1 - Since You Were Raised With Christ, Seek Those Things Above (Col 3:1-2)

Scripture: Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.


The point Paul is making here is this. In baptism, the Christian rises and dies again. As the waters close over him, it is as if he was buried in death; as he emerges from the waters, it is like being resurrected to a new life. Now, if that is so the Christian must rise from baptism a different man. So what is the difference? It lies in the fact that now the thoughts of the Christian must be set on the things which are above. He can no longer be concerned with the trivial temporary things of earth; he must be totally concerned with the eternal credibility of heaven.

We must note carefully what Paul means by that. He is certainly not pleading for an other-worldliness in which the Christian withdraws himself from all the work and activities of this world and does nothing but contemplate eternity. Immediately after this Paul goes on to lay down a series of ethical principles which make it quite clear that he expects the Christian to go on with the work of this world and to maintain all its normal relationships. But there will be this difference―from now on the Christian will view everything from the background of eternity and no longer live as if this world was all that mattered.

This will obviously give him a new set of values. Things which the world thought important, he will no longer worry about. Ambitions which dominated the world will be powerless to touch him. He will go on using the things of the world but he will use them in a new way. He will, for instance, set giving above getting, serving above ruling, forgiving above avenging. The Christian’s standard of values will be God’s, not men’s.

And how is this going to be accomplished? The life of the Christian is hidden with Christ in God. There are at least two vivid pictures here.

We have seen repeatedly that the early Christians regarded baptism as a dying and rising again. When a man was dead and buried, the Greeks very commonly spoke of him as being hidden in the earth; but the Christian had died a spiritual death in baptism and he is not hidden in the earth, but hidden in Christ. It was the experience of the early Christians that the very act of baptism wrapped a man around Christ.

There may well be word-play here which a Greek would recognize at once. The false teachers called their books of so-called wisdom apokruphoi, the books that were hidden from all except those who were initiated. Now, the word which Paul uses to say that our lives are hidden with Christ in God is part of the verb apokruptein, from which the adjective apokruphos comes. Undoubtedly the one word would suggest the other. It is as if Paul said, “For you the treasures of wisdom are hidden in your secret books; for us, Christ is the treasury of wisdom and we are hidden in Him.”

There is still another thought here. The life of the Christian is hidden with Christ in God. That which is hidden is concealed; the world cannot recognize the Christian. But Paul goes on: The day is coming when Christ will return in glory and then the Christian, whom no one recognized, will share that glory and it will be plain for all to see.” In a sense, Paul is saying―and saying truly―that someday the verdicts of eternity will reverse the verdicts of time and the judgments of God will overturn the judgments of men. There can be no improvement, says Colossians, on Christ as the means of access to God. Christ is “the head of every principality”; the elements have nothing to add.

Lesson VA1

(3:1) Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above{1], where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,

When Jesus gave us His life, He lifted us out of the grave and set us on the throne in heaven! Christ is seated at the right hand of God, and we are seated there “in Christ.” Notice the first word in this verse― "since.” That is, “since” we are risen with Christ, then it is natural that we should seek the things above, where Christ now sits at the right hand of God the Father. It is natural for a sinner to seek the lusts of the flesh; but if the sinner is dead to sin and raised (quickened) with Christ, the new life gives forth new desires. There is a new nature within―Peter calls it “divine nature”; and having been delivered from the deadness of sin, now possessing the life of God in Christ, we are to seek the things above. This does not suggest that Paul’s readers might not have been “raised with Christ”; for all of us, as believers are identified with Christ in death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Our exalted position in Christ is not a hypothetical thing or a goal for which we strive. It is an accomplished fact. As we delight in Christ and our position in Him, it is critical that we recognize what position Christ Himself is in. He sits “on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). He is Lord! Commitment to pursuing Christ means living in the reality of His preeminence over all things. We are to dedicate every area of our lives to His loving Lordship so that we entrust to Him our entire future, family, finances, and friendships along with our talents, time, and treasures―all of these to Him. We cannot revel in the benefits package of our position in Christ and forget the related obligations of being a servant of Christ.

Eph. 2:1-10 gives a magnificent word picture:

Of the sinner―his position and condition.

Of the reason―the sinner is changed from deadness to life.

The result of that change.

In these verses Paul describes the unbeliever as being dead in trespasses and sins, walking according to the course of this world―children of disobedience; and then, in spite of this despicable picture, the Holy Spirit says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—IT IS BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.“ (Eph 2:4-7).

In Ephesians 4:32 we read that God saves us for Christ’s sake―not for our sake, not for our comfort nor for our glory. God forgives our sins and gives us eternal life “FOR CHRISTS SAKE.” God raises the sinner, gives him new life in Christ, and permits him to set in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.“ (Eph 2:7).

In Christ, God provided saving grace. Because of God’s great love, He permitted Jesus to taste death for every man . . . to purchase redemption for every man at the tremendous price of His own blood. When the unbeliever believes on the Son, God forgives the unbeliever for Christ’s sake, and positionally the forgiven sinner is placed in Jesus, in God. Therefore, now we sit with Christ at the right hand of God the Father in the heavenlies. The born again child of God is just as sure for heaven as if he were already there because positionally he is already sitting with Jesus at the right hand of God the Father.

set your hearts on things above{1],

To “SET YOUR HEARTS ON THINGS ABOVE{1]” (lit. “seek’) is to desire and strive for those things. It is to see to it that one’s interests are centered in Christ, that one’s attitudes, ambitions, and whole outlook on life are molded by Christ’s relation to the believer, and that one’s allegiance to Him, takes precedence over all earthly allegiances. Paul directs our focus with two commands. First, he exhorts us to pursue heavenly realities with all our hearts. The phrase “set your hearts on things above{1],” means to search purposely. It signifies an urgent quest that engages our will. We are to be as earnest in seeking Christ as the shepherd who sought his lost sheep or the woman who searcher for her lost coin or the father who sought his lost son (Luke 15).

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