Colossians 3:1-4 ESV
“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.”
Setting our minds on things above, and not on things that are on the earth, does not mean that we live in a bubble. It doesn’t mean that we ignore all that is going on all around us. And, it doesn’t mean that we live with blinders on, either, or with our “heads in the sand,” refusing to accept the reality of certain real life situations. That is not what is intended here.
Now, we don’t just accept everything blindly, either, at face value. For, the scriptures are big on teaching us to be people of discernment, and that we are to test everything, and that we are to not be taken in by liars and deceivers and by those who manipulate human minds. But, we are to pray to God in all circumstances, and to seek his guidance and counsel in all situations. And, we are to ask him for wisdom to know lies from the truth.
And, when we do that, we are setting our minds on things above and not on things on the earth, because we are allowing the Lord to guide our thinking and our perceptions of reality vs. the fake. And, we are not just buying into any and everything that has the appearance of truth and then endanger ourselves to falling prey to deception.
For, our focus is on Christ and on his will and his ways and on his truth. Our desire is for him, to do his will. And, our desire, too, is that we might not be taken captive by those who would try to deceive us into believing lies. And, this is why it is so critical that we bathe our minds and hearts in the Word of God, and that we follow our Lord in obedience to his will and to his ways.
Colossians 3:5-11 ESV
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”
There are many liars and deceivers within the gatherings of the church, many of them pastors, who would have you believe that once you are “saved” that it doesn’t matter to God how much you sin. They would have you believe, in fact, that God doesn’t even see your sin anymore, but that all he sees is Jesus when he looks at you, and thus he just smiles down on you.
And, if you start to feel guilty about your sin, then they have a long list called “Who I am in Christ” for you to quote in order to console yourselves in your sin. Some of the list is biblically based, but usually taken out of context, and thus is an untruth, if not used within the correct context. Some of the lists I have seen include unbiblical quotes, too.
But, the scriptures do not teach a “once saved” where you can keep on sinning as much as you want, or that your sins no longer matter to God, or that he can’t even see them.
For, if God truly could no longer see when we sin against him, and if our sins no longer matter to God, because they are now covered under God’s grace, then how do we explain all the instructions in the New Testament to the churches regarding their sins and with tons of warnings to them about what happens to them if they continue in sin?
We can’t justify that, because the scriptures are real clear on this subject, for Jesus died on that cross, not just to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die, but that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).
So, the church is regularly instructed on what it means to be saved from their sins and to live the Christian life. It means we put to death all that is of our sinful and earthly nature so that we can live for Christ and his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Therefore, our lives should no longer be characterized by habitual lying, stealing, gossiping, idolatry, sexual immorality, adultery and the like. In these types of things, we once walked before we believed in Jesus, meaning that they should no longer be part of our lives. They are to be in the past, behind us, not part of our present reality.
For, to be “in Christ” means that these things were put to death with Christ in our lives. It means we put off the old self with its sinful practices, and that we put on the new self, in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, and being renewed in his image day by day.
Colossians 3:12-17 ESV
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
So, why does the church have to have these continual reminders? For, this kind of teaching and instructions to the church are all throughout the New Testament. So, why did God find it necessary to keep reminding the church of these things?
I believe it is because we still live on this earth, and we still live in flesh bodies, and so we are still susceptible to sin and to temptation to sin and to giving way to the flesh if we don’t focus our minds and hearts on what is above and not on things of this earth.
For, the essence of the gospel is that we die with Christ to sin that we might live to Christ and to his righteousness. It is that we put off our former way of living for sin and self, and it is that we put on Christ and his holiness.
But, this is something we have to do every day. For, the Christian walk is daily dying to sin and self, and daily living for the Lord in walks of obedience to his commands. It is daily yielding control of our lives over to him, and refusing to be controlled by our flesh any longer (Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-26; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
Daily we have a choice to yield to our flesh or to yield to the Spirit of God; to put on Christ, his righteousness and his love, or to allow the flesh to gain control over our hearts and lives once again. So, we can choose to be selfish or selfless. We can choose to exercise self-control or to be out of control. And, we can choose to show love and kindness to others, or we can choose to be unloving.
The Holy Spirit within us empowers us to do right and to not do wrong, and God living within us will shine his light through us, but only as we yield to him and we choose to do right and to not do wrong.
We have to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, in other words. God will give us all we need to live godly and holy lives pleasing to him, but we still have to daily yield control over to him and say “No” to sin and “Yes” to God.
The bottom line? Whatever we do in this life, whether in word or in deed, it must be done for the honor, glory and praise of God. Our focus should be on him and on serving him with our lives, and on living in obedience to his commands. And, thus, everything of this flesh must be put to death.
I’ll Live in Glory
Songwriter: James Melvin Henson
I want to be of service along this pilgrim way
And lead the lost to Jesus as fervently I pray
As day by day I travel I’ll keep him ever nigh
And live with Him Forever in Glory by and by
O yes, I’ll live in glory by and by
I’ll tell and sing love’s story there on high
There with my dear Redeemer no more to die
Oh yes, I’ll live in glory by and by
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