“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”
Sin is a killer. It is guilty of taking the spiritual life from all of us. God warned Adam that if he disobeyed the command of God and partook of what was forbidden, he would die. While many years transpired before his physical death, the moment Adam sinned, he experienced spiritual death, or separation from God. Since we are sons and daughters of Adam, we have all joined him in his sin and its consequences. The remedy for that condition is faith in Christ. The moment we put our trust in the work of Christ on the cross, our sins are forgiven, and we who were dead in sin, come alive to God. Jesus called that being “born again.” Paul calls it being raised with Christ. Since this is such a miraculous event, it should have tremendous impact on the way we live our lives. Paul goes on to give a series of exhortations, all predicated on the fact that, we who were dead have been made alive.
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2
While it is necessary to be earthly minded in the sense of meeting our responsibilities, caring for the needs of others, and impacting our world for the kingdom of heaven, it is completely unnecessary for us to be carnally minded. No more, should our thoughts be filled with the pursuits of the flesh. Instead, we should set our minds to think of ways to live righteously and love others.
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth . . . ” Colossians 3:5
Paul is echoing the words of Jesus when He said, “if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out” Sometimes, we must take radical action against those traits that lead us to sin. If we are having a problem with one particular sin, we must take radical action to ensure we make it more and more difficult to fail.
“But now you yourselves are to put off all these . . .” Colossians 3:8
Paul lists the things that were part of our lives before coming to Christ; things we must eradicate from our lives now. While those things might have been acceptable before you came to Christ, they have no part in your life now.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on…” Colossians 3:12
Paul never reduced Christianity to what we don’t do. To him, meeting Christ meant a total transformation of our life. Old habits and actions would be replaced with new ones. After all, we are new creations in Christ, the old has passed away and all things have become new. The way I look at God, and the way I treat others, should be transformed since coming to Christ.
“Wives… Husbands… Children… Bondservants…”
A transformed life results in transformed relationships. Many of us grew up with poor relationship examples. Perhaps your parents divorced, or you had a particularly cruel father or distant mother. Often, those examples impact the way we treat our spouse and children. Without even knowing it, we are following the patterns set for us. The remedy for that is to look at each relationship in light of Christ. Paul gives us fresh insight into how a husband and wife are to relate to one another, how parents and children should treat each other, and what we should be doing at work. Our Christianity should radically affect the life we live.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, . . ” Colossians 3:23
Before coming to Christ, my life was consumed with pleasing me. Now that I have been born again, my desires should be to please God, above all things. Paul exhorts us to look at life through the lens of pleasing God. Whatever we are doing, we should do it as unto the Lord.
Questions for Colossians 3
This chapter begins with an “if, then” statement: if you have been raised with Christ, then. The rest of the chapter fulfills the then, and tells us how we live should live in response to all that God has done for us. Much of what He has done is not visible, and is yet to be revealed.
- In verses 1-4 list some things that these verses teach us about Jesus.
- What does Paul tell us to do in verse 2? What earthly things do you personally need to get your eyes off of, and what heavenly things do you need to set your heart upon?
- Verse 3 tells us that we died with Christ. But then in verse 5 we are told to put to death the parts of us that are embracing sin and living in opposition to God. We begin a relationship with God when we identify ourselves with Christ, but we also need to daily cooperate with His Spirit’s work in our lives. Read Luke 9:2. Make a list of the things in verses 5-8 that we are to no longer take part in now that we are Christ’s.
- Read verses 9-11. The lifestyle that Paul is saying to put off is called the “old man”. The new way that Paul calls us to live is called the new man. What things do verse 10 and 11 teach us about the new man?
- In verses 12-17, we find some of what the new man’s life should look like:
a. Make a list of all we’re called to do in these verses.
b. Read verse 13. Why must we forgive others?
c. Note verse 14. What is the most important thing for us to put on?
- Verses 18-25 deal with the ideas of submitting to the authorities that God has placed over us, and of righteously leading those God has put under our authority. Are there any of these instructions that are particularly relevant to your life?
- Read verses 17 and 23. These verses are “catch-all” verses that apply to our whole lives. Take some time and ask God to help you to obey these verses.