Lesson: VA1 - Since You Were Raised With Christ - Page 2 - (series: Lessons on Colossians)
by John Lowe
The center of our intense search must be Christ Himself. The heresy in Colossae promised spiritual fulfillment by keeping Old Testament Laws and regulations. However, these were only pictures pointing to Christ, the fulfillment and end of the Law (Rom. 10:4). Imagine a soldier taking pictures of his wife and children to war. Upon his safe return home, who does the soldier want to hug and kiss? Would it be his wife and kids or pictures of them? Fill your hearts with Christ. The more you pursue Him, the more you will want to pursue Him. Christ is to be the center and source of all our joys. We must be personally convinced, as Paul was, that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
The apostle uses verses 1 and 2 to make a comparison between the believer’s former state, alive to the world but dead to God, and his present state, dead to the world but alive to God; and between the earthly abode and the unbeliever and the heavenly abode of the believer (1 Cor. 15:47, 48). We are already seated there in Him as our Head; and hereafter shall be seated by Him, as the bestower of our bliss.
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Jesus had said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). So Paul now says in effect, “Your treasure, Christ, is now enthroned in the heavenly world, and your thoughts and aspirations ought to be there too, with him (3:1, 2). For as he puts it, “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (3:3). Because Christ is with God, the Christian’s destiny, which is bound up with Christ’s, is there too.
(3:2) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Now we have arrived at the “second” thing Paul exhorts us to develop―a mindset of singular devotion that believes and embraces the rule of Christ over our lives. In order to demonstrate heavenly conduct, we must adopt a heavenly outlook. True spirituality involves choices about what we think and love. It is very difficult to think of things above when our affections are somewhere else.
“Set your minds on things above” refers more to inner disposition. To “set your minds on (lit., “think on”) things above has, among other connotations, that of giving such things a large place in someone’s thought life―seeing to it that the longing of the inner nature, the governing tendency of thought and will is toward God. This, of course, does not mean withdrawal from all the activities of this world to engage only in contemplation of eternity and heaven. The verses that follow make
it quite clear that Paul expected Christians to maintain normal relationships in this world. But there will be a difference―from now on the Christian will see everything in the light and against the background of eternity . . . . He will no longer live as if this world was all that mattered. He will see this world against the background of the large world of eternity.
The divine-human relationship does not rest on the Law, but on God’s love and compassion (Rom. 5:6-8; 9:16; Gal. 2:11-21). Regulations have a place; but such rules as “don’t touch, don’t eat,” like the things they deal with, “are bound for destruction”; ultimately they are only “human precepts” (2:22; Mark 7:7). They have “a semblance of wisdom,” and a temporary usefulness (2:23), but Jesus did not come with a system of law― "the Sabbath is for people, not people for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). In any context, ancient or modern, this is quite a radical stance and by no means easily maintained. It nevertheless reflects well on Jesus and Paul.
According to Paul’s letter to the Church at Ephesus, his letter to the Hebrew Christians, and Colossians 3:1-3, we born again believers are in Christ, in God NOW; and since we hold this glorious position, the least thing we can do in appreciation for God’s love is to seek those things above . . . set our affections on things above and not on things of earth.” We are pilgrims and strangers here; this earth is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven, our Head (the Lord Jesus Christ) is in heaven; the foundation of the New Testament Church is in heaven. We are members of His body―bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh (Eph 5:30). Since this is true, positionally we sit with Christ at the right hand of God in the heavenlies NOW!
Paul charges us not to set our affections on the things that rob us of a heart for Christ. He warns of the spiritual dead-end street of mystical pursuits and legalistic rules.
He also commands us to ruthlessly deny ourselves mind-controlling sexual thoughts. These are to be totally abandoned for Christ. Paul reminds us to fix our thoughts on our identity in Christ. We are to believe what God says about us and constantly adjust our thinking to that reality. Unfortunately, we have so much trouble fighting sin, not usually because we do not know what is wrong with it, but because we do not have a more powerful loyalty and affection for Christ to overwhelm it
Special Notes and Scripture
[1} Things above” is those things that are in heaven―Jesus, God, Holy Spirit, God’s throne, saints, etc.