“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 ESV
What does it look like to live the Christian life in the midst of a daily battle with sin, temptations and pressures to conform to the ways of this world? What does it look like to abide in Christ when there are shifts in culture and morality?
Sometimes such factors can potentially discourage us from living the Christian life and from believing that it's actually possible to live. To the Christian who currently feels hopeless in their walk with Christ, I want you to know that you are not without a hope, no matter how bad it looks.
In the text before us the Apostle Paul unpacks what it looks like to put on the new self which is in Christ. The Colossian Church were being imposed by false teachers regarding food and drink laws (Colossians 2:20), man-made ideas that appeared to be wise but brought no real transformation. This kind of teaching would lead them away from Christ rather than to Christ.
You see, real Christianity makes much of Christ, it finds total sufficiency in Him and seeks to keep Jesus at the center. Christianity isn't about what you can get out of it, nor is it about self-absorption or gratification.
So, by way of warning, be careful not to become self-centered, the moment we become self-centered is the moment we stop growing in spiritual maturity.
We know that this idea of being famous is a dominant theme in our generation, it's all about who can get the most views on social media, how well known you are, and how important you are. There is so much out there that can potentially feed our ego as opposing to killing it. As young Christians we can't afford to fall into this trap, our sinful nature seeks to be on top, it is self-seeking. Therefore Jesus tells us that true discipleship is a denial of one’s own self, it’s about going the way of the cross which involves the death of self (Luke 9:23). The new self which is in Christ seeks to make Jesus famous and to find lasting satisfaction in Him only.
In verse 1 Paul tells us that we have been raised with Christ, this presupposes that a death has taken place. When we give our lives to Jesus, we die to our old self (Col 3:3) and we are raised to new life with Christ.
Paul makes mention of this in Romans 6:10-11
“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:10-11 ESV
Now that we are raised to new life, this brings new affections, new passions, new desires. Colossians 3:2 encourages us to seek those things which are above where Christ is seated.
Jesus is the object upon which we set our affections. The only reason Paul tells us to set our minds above is because that's where Christ is. The more you look to Jesus is the more your outlook on life changes. Ultimately, you will become more like Jesus, which is what the Christian life is all about. So, look to Jesus friends. Do those things that will help you intentionally fix your gaze on Him. For example, giving yourself to the study of God's word, spending time in prayer, joining a small group whereby believers spend time in fellowship, prayer and study. Create a worship playlist, be intentional about growing in Christ, do those things which will bring His Kingdom closer to your heart and surroundings.
When we read further on in the text Paul begins to dig deeper into the application of our new life in Christ (Colossians 3:5-17). Whilst we as believers have died to sin, there is still remaining sin in us that we battle with and by the Holy Spirit we must put to death.
Many of us might read this text where Paul tells us to put sin to death and become very exhausted, because we see how much of this we really struggle with. Jesus said that humanly speaking it is impossible for man to be saved and live the Christian life, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
The fact that the text states that Christ is seated above at the right hand of God (Col 3:1) shows us the supremacy of Christ over all things including spiritual wickedness and principalities in high places.
The implications for us is that the Christian life gives no room for excuses. There is no sin that is greater than Christ, no struggle that He can't get you through, no battle He cannot win. You have to remember that you didn't defeat sin nor Satan, Jesus did.
In and of ourselves we will never be able to put to death; the sin in us. We need Jesus who is stronger than our sin to rescue us, this is a great gospel truth! Christ is the initiator of our salvation and our great perfecter (Hebrews 12:2). We will only begin to fight well once we realize Who is leading the fight!
Every day it's important we ask God to help us walk in this new life and give us a growing desire to do so on a daily basis. Our fellowship must be with Him, our affections must be set upon Him, our lives must be in step with His Spirit.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray that I would walk in the newness of life which you give to me, setting my affections upon you. By your Spirit help me to put to death the sin in my life and anything else that would prevent me from growing in you. May I lay aside every weight and run this race, looking to you the author and finisher of my faith Amen.
In Christ I live, in Christ I move, in Christ I have my being. (Acts 17:28)