If then you have died and been raised with Christ
i) Background to Colossians:
(1) Paul is witting this letter to a group of Christians who are being lead astray by a heresy. Paul franticly writes to these Christians about what is important and were their faith, hope, and trust lies and that is in the all sufficiency of Christ Jesus.
ii) Paul reminds these Christians that they were at one time alienated from God. He tells the Colossians and tells the Ephesians in Ephesians 2:1 (Eph 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins). He tells them the same thing. This is a universal truth because all Christians were alienated from God before they came to Christ. All people not in Christ are alienated / separated from God. No amount of good works or anything else will change that. The only way is found in Christ. We remember in Genesis how the relationship with God and man was perfect but that through our rebellion, our disobedience we were separated from God. So Paul is reminding us of how it was before coming to Christ. But he goes on to say you have died with Christ were buried with Christ and were raised with Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says (Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.) Paul says in Colossians 3:1 since all this is true-
b) Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
i) Greek word for “seek”:
(a) Thayer Definition: 1) to seek in order to find 1c) to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after 2a) to crave.
(b) Some translations: “keep seeking”. This is a constant active pursuit of God. Not a one time event but a life style or a life of seeking the heavenly.
ii) We are told to seek the things that are above. What does that mean? It means that we pursue with a passion the things of heaven or eternity. We must constantly be focused on the eternal and have a heartfelt desire to do the will of God. Actively seeking and pursuing the heavenly.
iii) Our love and motivation in life is for God and Christ.
iv) Strive for the heavenly not as a way to gain our salvation but because we are saved and raised to life with Christ we are to strive with all our ability and affection to do the will of God and want what he wants.
v) Jesus said in Matthew 6:32-33(Matthew 6:33) To seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. The same word is used there as is used here. Jesus says not to get worried or to pursue things of this world like money or material possessions or the good life. He says the pagans run after these things and not to be like them but to seek after or continue seeking God, his kingdom, the things that are of real importance and God will bless you with these other things if there good. You will be blessed. But Jesus is not saying that if you seek God as the first thing in a list of things to do that you will be blessed. No he says seek as of first most importance God. It’s not like a list of things to do and once you sought God then you’re done and you can move on to number two on that list. No it’s a continuous seeking after God as the most important thing in life.
vi) Paul is saying the same thing that we as Christians are to continue seeking after the heavenly.
vii) (Col 3:1) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.)
viii) Paul moves on in this section and says:
c) Set your minds on things that are above
(1) First he said “seek” and now he says “set”.
(2) I went to school for masonry, I never graduated the program but I was in school for two years and when we put down the mortar, concrete or the bricks, once they hardened we said that it was “set”. It meant that the concrete, or whatever, was hardened, firm, immovable. That’s the mind set we are to have a firm fixed mind on the heavenly, the eternal.
ii) Greek word for “set your mind”
(1) Romans 8:5-6 (Rom 8:5-6 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.)
(2) The Greek word used here for “set your mind” can be translated “Attitude.”
(3) This has to do with our minds, ambitions, our attitudes.
(4) Focus our minds and our attention on the things above. We need to keep our thoughts on the heavenly. Keeping our thoughts pure. Paul is not saying the exact same thing with the seeking and setting. One is an active doing and the other is a mental though, or an inner attitude.
(5) The doing and the thinking are to be heavenly or Godly or Christ centered.
(6) Thoughts, words, actions, our lives are to be Christ centered. Setting our minds on the heavenly.
(7) Jesus explains that our thoughts and our inner attitudes need to be pure and always on the heavenly. (Mat 5:21-28)"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. ……."You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.)
(8) Where are your thoughts “set”, and what do you “seek”? As Christians they should be heavenly, Christ centered.
(9) Paul, after giving some positive instructions and guidance tells these Christians what not to focus on or seek after.
d) Not on things that are on earth.
(1) Here we are told what not to do or think about and that is the earthly. The things that are wicked and evil. Further down Paul gives a list of the things that are earthly but we also have to realize that there are things that may not be bad but are still going to pass away. The earthly things good or bad are not eternal only transitory or temporary. And if we put our love, and focus on even the things of this world that are good they take the place of God and we become idolaters.
(2) There is no lasting joy in anything earthly. The only lasting joy is found in the love of God.
(3) In Ecclesiastes Solomon says everything under heaven is worthless, of no lasting value. Paul echoes these same thoughts when in Philippians 3:8 he says: (Phi 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ )
(4) That’s the attitude, the mind set we need to have. Seeing the things and attitudes of this world for what they are, garbage, and seeing and pursuing with a passion the heavenly.
a) Let me leave you with this:
“Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over our nation's deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.”
Steve Goodier, Quote Magazine, in May, 1990 R.D.
b) Continue “seeking” the God of the universe with a heart and mind “set” on the heavenly.