SET YOUR AFFECTIONS ON THINGS ABOVE
- It is possible to determine a person’s true character by finding out what he or she really loves and what his or her goals are. Ask yourself these questions:
1. What are the three things you are most earnestly working for right now?
2. What are the three things you love the most?
3. What are the three things you think about the most?
- This is essentially the same method used by Jesus to determine a person’s true character. Matt. 6:19-21. The heart is the seat of the emotions and it determines how and what we think (Prov. 23:7) -- "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:"
- If you will be honest with yourself, you will probably find that, for the most part, your affections, as revealed by your thoughts, are more focused on the things of this world than on the things of God.
I. A GREAT DEMAND
- Why is it so difficult for Christians to set their minds and affections on eternal things? That is to say, why is it so hard for God’s people to be "heavenly-minded" people while here on earth?
- Some might answer, "Because of our sin nature." Certainly there is some truth in that.
- Christians do have two sets of desires that are warring against one another -- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit. Paul spoke of this conflict in Gal. 5:16-17, Rom. 7:21-23.
- But our difficulty in focusing on eternal values cannot be completely blamed on our sin nature.
- The fact is that God has placed Christians in a difficult (though not impossible) situation. He asks Christians to be citizens of two worlds.
- In fact, this is such a difficult predicament that it merited a special prayer by Jesus on our behalf: Jn. 17:14-18
a. Notice that twice in this passage Jesus declares that His followers are not of this world (vs. 14,16).
b. But twice Jesus specifically says that God’s plan is not to take Christians out of this world, but rather, to send them into the world (vs. 15,18).
- How can a Christian live in this world with its responsibilities and temptations without loving this world and being conformed to its values? The tension of this situation is addressed throughout the Bible.
1. (Phil. 3:20) -- "For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."
2. (II Tim. 2:4) -- "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
3. I John 2:15-17
- On the other hand, the Bible also speaks of some very definite responsibilities we have while here on earth. Our work, family, health, friends, money, etc.
- So how can a Christian be heavenly-minded, and yet give the proper attention to our responsibilities here on earth?
1. According to our text, to be heavenly-minded means to conform our everyday desires, attitudes, and actions to the image of Christ.
2. In other words, being heavenly-minded simply means loving what Jesus loves, thinking like Jesus thinks, and viewing everything in our daily life from His heavenly perspective.
1. We read the Bible or listen to the preaching and the Holy Spirit convicts our heart of some sin in our life.
2. We determine that we are going to fix that.
3. So we make a mental judgment to eliminate "this and that" from our life and we may even go so far as to replace it with something more godly.
4. We pray for strength and announce our decision and commitment to God.
5. Then we go home and try our best to live up to our commitment. However, most of the time we find that, no matter how determined we are, we are still subject to the sins and pleasures of this world.
6. So we fail. Our failure brings frustration which often leads us to believe that since we can’t live the kind of godly life that we want, there is really no use in trying.
7. But then we read our Bible or listen to the preaching and the Holy Spirit convicts our heart and the whole thing starts over again.
II. A GODLY DESIRE
- Jesus Christ has, by a single act, forever changed our status before God.
1. By His death and resurrection, He has transformed believers from enemies of God to children of God.
2. And now our responsibility is to act in a way that is consistent with our new status.
In Colossians 3:
1. Here, the apostle is urging us to exchange the old desires, attitudes, and actions that were characteristic of our former lives for those that are indicative of our new rank and standing.
2. Paul says the path to true and lasting change begins with
- a CHANGE OF DESIRES ("seek"-vs. 1) that leads to
- a CHANGE OF THOUGHTS ("affections"-vs. 2) and results in
- a CHANGE OF ACTIONS.
- That’s fine. But what are we to think about and desire? Twice Paul mentions those "things above". But what are the "things above"?
- Paul clarified what he meant by "things above" with this phrase: "where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
1. This concept of Jesus being seated at the right hand of God the Father is indicative of the Lord’s power, authority, and position.
2. Thus, Paul was no only asking us to love and meditate on the things in heaven, but also on the qualities that characterize the life and rule of Jesus Christ who is in heaven.
- Throughout the Bible we find lists of the "things above" which we are to seek;
1. Galatians 5:22-23 (fruit of the Spirit)
2. Phil. 4:8
3. James 3:17
- And so we have come full circle back to our original definition of what it means to be heavenly-minded. It means to continually desire and long for, to pursue after, those qualities that characterize the life of Jesus Christ.
- As we long for these qualities and think about them, they will transform our lives.
- this kind of dramatic change is not only possible but it is commanded by God and prompted by the Holy Spirit.
- But it all must start with a choice on your part. You must choose to desire most the things of God. You will not be able to make this choice until first you decide to divorce yourself from being fleshly-minded. You can take the first step right now by asking God to make His desires your desires.