Col 3_1_4 The Risen Life
Text: Colossians 3:1-4
Title: Risen with Christ
Theme of the book of Colossians: Jesus Christ: The preeminent and all-sufficient Savior
Theme of Text: Since you have a risen life with Christ, you should fix your affections on the eternal, not the temporal.
Proposition: You must focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
Many Christians have a problem with the Christian life. After the passing of time, their faith seems to lose its attractiveness. Their initial enthusiasm fades away and the excitement they had for Christ disappears. Soon they begin to think that the life of a Christian is just merely following rules and a ridged statement of beliefs. The joy in serving Christ that was present before is replaces with dissatisfaction. At this point, a foolish teaching or doctrine draws many Christians away. A false teaching or cult begins to meet their “needs.” All of a sudden, the Bible looks boring compared to books like “28 minutes in hell” or “90 minutes in heaven” or teachings about “visions” and “tongues.” In these false teachings, their “needs and feelings” are met. A great experience is what they want! Biblical truth becomes irrelevant compared to their feelings. Feelings and desires become greater than biblical teaching. Why is this situation the case for so many Christians? It is because they have lost focus. They have lost focus of Christ, they forget their new and risen life with their Savior, and they lose focus on things of eternal importance. We don’t need our feelings and needs to be met; we need to have a renewed focus! Focus on the eternal!
This passage is a transitional passage. It is a transition from Paul’s direct teaching against the false teachers to a discourse on practical living in the Christian life. These four verses contain both doctrinal and practical teaching. These verses should be a great encouragement and reminder to believers. Believers are exhorted to have their focus on things above (heavenly things), and believers are reminded that they have a new, eternal life with Christ! The verses are specifically written to those that are believers. For Paul, there was no reason for anyone to be “seeking the things above” if he had not been raised with Christ. The road to heaven is through Christ, not through legalism, asceticism, or mysticism. It is important for Christians to realize that their true home is in Heaven! Therefore, you must focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
1. The Request for a Heavenly Focus 3:1-2
In verse 1, Paul gives an exhortation to all those that have been “raised with Christ.” A person that has accepted Christ as their Savior from sin, death, and hell is a person that has been “raised with Christ.” A person that has not believed on Christ must do so before they can have a heavenly focus. Without Christ, a heavenly focus is impossible. Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 2:20
You must focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
a. The correct desire
The first exhortation is to “seek those things which are above.” The word “seek,” in this verse means, “To try to gain, to strive after, with the idea of earnestness and anxiety.” The Greek word indicates a continual action. You must “continue seeking” the things above. One must seek with the intention to obtain. Paul is saying that the Christian should be seeking the eternal rather than the temporal. Believers must realize that our life should not be spent seeking after the worlds pleasures and goods, but we should spend our life seeking Christ and His righteousness. Matthew 6:19-20; Romans 8:6;
Application: The question that needs to be asked here is obvious: what are you seeking? What is your life spent doing? Are you using your life to seek more education? more money? a better position or job? Are you concerning your life with the temporal or are you concerning your life with the eternal? Nothing done here on earth will last except what is done for Christ! This is a reality check for me and it should be for everyone else here. Our life must be spent focusing on the eternal, not the temporal!
Illustration: Most of us know about Chien Ming Wang. He is the great Taiwanese pitcher for the Yankees. I have seen his poster in so many places around Taiwan. I see his face on billboards, bank signs, credit cards, commercials, and in the newspaper. He is idolized here in Taiwan. I do wonder though, what would you say he is seeking after, the temporal or the eternal? When he comes before the throne of Christ, what will he say to our Savior? “I was the best pitcher to ever come from Taiwan. I won hundreds of baseball games for the best baseball team, the New York Yankees. In fact, I was probably one of the best ever at throwing a ball 90 feet.” Pretty sad huh!?!
When we put life in the perspective of eternity, things start to look a little clearer. Paul has given a simple yet profound command: seek the things that are above! Will you say to Christ that you spend your life seeking education, position, power, prestige, money, temporal happiness, fulfilling fleshly desires; or will you say to Christ that you spent your life, time, and your thoughts seeking things of eternal importance!
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
The things we are to be seeking are above, which is exactly where we find our Savior. Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. He is in the privileged position of royalty and honor. Our Savior’s work is completed. He is not standing in heaven pacing back and forth thinking of what might happen. No, instead our Savoir is in heaven sitting down with his work completed. We are complete in Christ who has completed his work! Our thought are to be focus on our Savior!
You must focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
b. The correct mindset
The second exhortation is closely related to verse one. These are parallel statements with a slight variation. The first verse has the meaning of heavenly desires; verse two has the meaning of a heavenly mindset. This is a critical verse for believers, for the mind is an intense battleground. A believer must win the battle of the mind before there is true victory over sin. Paul is advocating a heavenly mindset instead of an earthly mindset. The focus of believer’s thoughts should be Christ and His eternal commands. 1 John 2:15-17
1.) The Importance of the Mind
The area of the mind is probably the most difficult area for most Christians, yet it seems to be the least talked about. If you go to the bookstore, you will not find many books dealing with the area of the mind. No one wants to address the topic because everyone has such a struggle with the arena of the mind. For the Christian, Christ must control our mind! Our thoughts and meditations must be focus on the heavenly: the eternal, not the temporal.
Illustration: Listen to what Emerson had to say. The famous philosopher, Emerson, made a famous comment, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” The Bible puts it this way, Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. A person that thinks about Christ and His glories all day long is a person that has his mind under the control of Christ. A person that focuses on worldly things instead of Christ has his mind under the control of the flesh. Your mind must be under Christ’s control!
Matthew 15:19 says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” We must realize that our heart (or our unseen part of us – our mind, will, and emotions) is the battleground of our flesh and the spirit. A person must win the battle of the mind in order to have a Christ like walk.
2.) The condition of the uncontrolled mind
Why is this topic so hard to talk about for me and anyone else? It is because of what Christ called the Pharisees, “HYPOCRITES!” He said you are hypocrites because they “looked good” but they were actually filthy! This is exactly what Christ was trying to proclaim in Matthew 23:25-28. He condemned the Pharisees for having a “clean outside, but a filthy inside.” The Pharisees looked like a beautifully washed cup or dish on the outside, but on the inside, they were filthy. They were filled with greed and self-indulgence! What are you like on the inside? What is occupying your mind and thoughts?
Illustration: Imagine you leave on vacation for 2 weeks. Before you left town, you bought lunch at a near biendong shop. You were in such a hurry that you don’t get time to eat your lunch. You forget the biendong on the counter. When you return you see the biendong box on the counter and realize the mistake you made. On the outside, it doesn’t look so bad, but on the inside, you know that the food that you left has rotted and now smells horrible!
Christ gives this description about the Pharisees. The Pharisees were supposedly the most righteous people in Israel, but Christ condemned them because of their wicked minds. Their outside looked clean, but the inside was filthy. Does this condition describe you?
3.) Problem areas with the temporal-earthly mind
Numerous areas of the mind cause problems. Only a few will be mentioned, but the ones mentioned are the most common struggles in the mind.
The mind can be ruined by thoughts of anger. In the Old Testament, murder was a sin punishable by death. Everyone knew that murder was a sin worthy of judgment, but in Matthew 5:21-22, Christ explains that anger is just the same as murder. Christ said that anyone who is angry with is brother is in danger of the judgment. Anyone that says, “Raca” meaning, “you fool,” “you stupid person,” or “you jerk” is in danger of judgment. Christ’s words are strong. He is serious about Christians loving their brother or neighbors themselves. (Matt. 5:43-48; 22:37-40) He doesn’t want anger to be part of our lives. Anger starts in the mind! Anger than is unchecked and not deleted from the brain begins to bring bitterness and hatred.
Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
When we talk about the mind, one of the major problems that is talked about is lust. In the Greek, the word for “lust” did not have the negative connotations that it does in English. In Greek, there could be a “lusting for righteousness or for mercy,” but there was also the idea of “the lust of the flesh and eyes.” Our mind is the place that lust is formed. We see something with our eyes, whether it be money, power, or sexual temptation, then when our eyes have seen it our mind starts to form a lust for that thing.
Illustration/application: Think about David and Bathsheba. David saw with his eyes, and then in his mind he lusted after her. He eventually fulfilled his desire and it led to great destruction! Christ said that lusting after a woman is the same as committing adultery with her. (Matthew 5:27-28) This area of the mind is critical to get control over. Job made a covenant with his eyes so he would not look intently or gaze on a woman. (Job 31:1) Job knew that if he did that, it would lead to lust.
It is also possible for people to lust after money and power. Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Love or lust for something that is not according to God’s standards is sin! We must change our lustful minds to minds that are focused on Christ!
c. Worry or Fear
The idea of worry or fear is prevalent throughout the Bible. Worry is a paralyzing sin of the mind that draws believers away from Christ. In Matthew 6:34, Christ said do not worry about tomorrow. Worry is a fear of what might happen or what could be a possibility. It leads to doubting God’s power and sovereignty. Worry takes our mind off the eternal and places it on the temporal. It is true that 95% of what we worry about never happens, and the other 5% never is as bad as our mind makes it out to be. When you worry, you doubt the sufficiency of God that Paul talks about in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
If worry goes unchecked, it leads to a debilitating condition. It makes us unable to reason and think properly. Ill: It is like the donkey that died of starvation between the two haystacks because he could not decide which one he should eat. He was too worried about another donkey coming to eat the hay of the other stack that he couldn’t focus on just one and eat his food.
Application: Are you too worried about what someone will think of you when you give them a track or flyer about church or the Christmas program? If you keep a heavenly mindset with eternity in focus, then your fear will not be so powerful.
An earthly-minded man is consumed with pride. Pride focuses on the temporal immediate gain instead of looking towards an eternal reward. Pride can be found in every human. It is something that seems to stick to us no matter how long we have been saved. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” When you start to think that you have really accomplished something or that you are a great Christian, then that is when you need a reality check on your pride. (Proverbs 16:18) Pride was the problem of the false teacher Colossians 2:18. They were so proud of their humility, that it was really just “false humility” or “prideful humility.”
We know that Lucifer was cast out of heaven because of pride; it should be no surprise that he would try to destroy humans by pride. We could say that all of these temporal, worldly mindsets are touched by pride. Hurtful, angry thinking is, “I’m better than he is (pride), I’ll get him or hurt him.” Worry or fearful thinking is, “What’s going to happen to me (pride).” Lustful thinking is, “I want this for myself; I want my desires filled (pride).”
Illustration: Out of focus. You must focus on the eternal, not the temporal. Have you ever used a telescope or microscope? Most of us have some experience with these instruments. If you are looking through a one of these instruments, you cannot see clearly, until the instrument is in the correct focus. Just having the focus off by a fraction can make a major difference. When we have one of anger, lust, worry, pride, or something else similar to these, it keeps us out of focus. It keeps us from setting our mind on things above! Christ becomes blurry, but when these things are absent from our life, then our focus on Christ become clear.
4.) Changing your temporal thoughts to a heavenly focus
To start changing your mindset from the temporal to the heavenly or eternal, you must do a few things.
a. You must regulate the input of the world on you mind.
The worlds philosophies and teachings are seen everywhere. You must begin to regulate the amount of worldly influence that is put in your mind. We all get a heavy does of worldly influence through the education system, television, music, the radio, and the internet. These are the most common places that we get worldly input and influence. Consider how much actual good healthy teaching come through those sources. I would say not much. Be careful how much worldly influence is allowed into your mind.
Consider what 1 John 2:15-16 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
Application: Suicide is popular, immorality is rampant, violence is everywhere, and language is vulgar- and this is just prime time television. Why are we allowing ourselves to be entertained by this?!?
b. You must repent of your former mindset
Repentance is a change of mind. You realize that what you did or though about was incorrect, so you must repent and change. Repentance is not just saying, “I’m sorry.” Repentance is turning from your previous ways. It involves putting off what you formerly did. We will talk about this concept more in the next few sermons. If you want to know what true repentance sounds like, then study and memorize Psalms 51.
c. You must input scripture into your mind
Start changing your thoughts by memorizing these verses:
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
A person that inputs God’s Word into his mind will have an easier time thinking on heavenly, eternal things. When you input Bible into your brain, your brain will output Bible.
You must focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
2. The Reality of a Heavenly Life 3:3-4
Paul gives a few reasons why believers should have a heavenly focus. A heavenly focus is much easier to have since our life is hidden and revealed in Christ. Colossians 2:20; Galatians 2:20
a. Hidden life with Christ
There may well be a word play here, which a Greek would recognize at once. The false teachers called their books of so-called wisdom apokruphoi, the books that were hidden from all except from those who were initiated. Now the word which Paul uses to say that our lives are hidden with Christ in God is part of the verb apokruptein, from which the adjective apokruphos comes. Undoubtedly, the one word would suggest the other. It is as if Paul said, “For you the treasures of wisdom are hidden in your secret books; for us Christ is the treasury of wisdom and we are hidden in him.” “W. Barclay, The Daily study Bible Series- Colossians”
The believer’s life is “hidden with Christ in God.” This amazing statement has three obvious implications.
1.) Believers have a common spiritual life with the Father and Son. (1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Peter 1:4) We are connected to God because of Christ. We have an intimate connection!
2.) The world cannot understand the full significance of the believer’s new life. (Rom. 8:19; 1 Cor. 2:14) Those outside of Christ do not understand what it means to be a child of God. They believe that serving Christ is some ridiculous idea. Unbelievers might realize a difference in conduct, but without Christ, they cannot see the true blessings they are missing. They are hidden from them.
3.) Believers are eternally secured, protected from all spiritual enemies, and have access to ALL of God’s blessings. (John 10:28; Rom. 8:31-39; 1 Peter 1:4) Verse 1 said that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Our Savior secures our salvation. He is in the most secure place in the universe, so our salvation is hidden and secure with him!
Illustration: A treasure is safest when it is hidden from robbers and thieves. Our salvation is hidden in Christ and is secure from anyone that my try to destroy us.
You must focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
b. Revealed Life with Christ
The believer’s life is hidden with Christ, but it will be revealed when Christ (who is our life) appears. All Christians will be with Christ when he comes again. Our live will be revealed with him in glory. This fact alone should cause believers to have a heavenly focus. (John 14:6; Revelation 19:11–13, 15–16; 1 John 3:2)
1 John 3:2 (NKJV) Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
In verse 4 Paul gives to Christ one of the great titles of devotion. He calls him Christ our life. Here is a thought which was very dear to the heart of Paul. When he was writing to the Philippians, he said, “For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). Years before, when he was writing to the Galatians, he had said, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). As Paul saw it, to the Christian, Christ is the most important thing in life; more, he is life!!
Illustration: This is the kind of peak of devotion, which we can only dimly understand and imperfectly express. Sometimes we say of a person, “Music is his life—Sport is his life—He lives for his work.” Such a man finds life and all that it means in music, in sport, in work. For the Christian, Christ is his life.
Application: Is Christ your life?? That is precisely why the Christian sets his mind and heart on the things, which are above, and not on the things of this world. He judges everything in the light of the Cross, and in the light of the love which gave itself for him. In the light of that Cross, the world’s wealth and ambitions and activities are seen at their true value; and, the Christian is enabled to set his whole heart on the things which are above. “W. Barclay, The Daily study Bible Series- Colossians”
The focus of the believer should be on Jesus Christ and the eternal hope that is found in Him. A person that has a heavenly focus will have his mind and life controlled by the Savior. Instead of being controlled by man’s faulty methods, he will be controlled by Christ. You must focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
I Wish I were Blind
The hymnwriter Fanny Crosby gave us more than 8000 Gospel songs. Although blinded at the age of 6 weeks, she never held any bitterness in her heart because of it. Once a preacher sym pathetically remarked, “I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you.”
She replied quickly, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?” “Why?” asked the surprised clergyman. “Because when I get to Heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!”
Why did Fanny Crosby, the great hymn writer, have an amazing focus on God? Is it possible that since she could not see, they spend their time thinking on what Christ has done and eternity instead of the temporal meaningless things of this world.
Fix your gaze on Christ! You need to have a heavenly outlook.
You must focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
Illustration: Looking through the binoculars one way magnifies things from far away. Looking at things through the binoculars the other way makes everything become very small and insignificant.
Illustration: The needle of a compass always points north. Our mindset must point towards Christ. To our heaven.