Notes from my 3/9/2014 sermon at Faith Fellowship, West Hartford, CT.
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Colossae to help them resist the influence of world. Part of that resistance is to shift our focus to Christ.
Colossians 3:1-111 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Verse 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.
• Everything Paul says in this scripture only applies to those who genuinely have been saved from their sins through faith in Christ.
• Therefore Paul begins with the word “If.”
• So much of scripture only applies to those who are believers so it is of paramount importance that we make sure we are genuine believers in Christ.
• Paul reminds us that IF we are genuine believers in Christ, then we should be seeking “things that are above.”
• What does “things that are above” mean?
Verse 2 - Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
• Notice the change from "seek" in verse 1 to "set your minds" in verse 2.
• This emphasizes the mental reorientation which new life in Christ requires.
• Paul uses the Greek word phronein (φρονεῖν) for the phrase “set your minds.”
• This word conveys the idea of devoting our whole mental activity to something, not just occasionally thinking about it.
• When we first begin to feel God tugging at our hearts, we begin to seek spiritual connection with Him.
• But once we find it, then we must set our minds on strengthening that spiritual connection for the rest of our lives.
• There are far too many Christians who are satisfied with just being saved. They do not realize that we are saved to SERVE and to continually DEEPEN our walk with Christ.
• If setting our minds on God means we have devoted our mental activity on Him all the time, not just occasionally, how do we realistically do that while we live real lives in a real world that could care less about Jesus?
Verse 3 - For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
• For us to be able to set our minds on the things of God, we must die to self. This is much harder than it sounds because we tend to like ourselves a lot.
• That is why Paul also talks about our lives being hidden in Christ. The Greek word for hidden is krypto (κρύπτω), which means to escape notice.
• Though our sins are many, while we are learning to die to self, those sins have escaped God’s notice because we are in Christ, that is what GRACE is all about. Thank God for GRACE!
• Not only has God forgiven our sins, but when our lives are hidden in Christ, when God looks at us, He sees Christ instead of us. Oh, what a glorious thought!!!!
• We may feel unworthy of both forgiveness and of this gift of Christ-likeness, and indeed, we are all unworthy, but that is what GRACE is all about.
• We should not take GRACE for granted, but thank God for it every day and seek to live worthy of this wonderful gift we have been given.
Verse 4 - When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
• Theologically, this verse is referring to the return of Christ.
• When Christ comes back, we will be caught up into glory with Him.
• But there is an application that can be made apart of the theological meaning.
• Many people live their entire lives seeking glory, fame, prestige, respect, or honor for themselves. They live under the constant pressure of that endless pursuit of glory.
• As Christians we must get off of that high pressure road to self-glory and instead seek the glory of Christ in our lives.
• When people begin to see Christ in us, something amazing happens, we finally find the respect we sought all along.
• The great majority of Christians will never be famous, but as we live for the glory of Christ, we quietly change the world and will be remembered by those who come after us as being part of something big that God did.
Verse 5 - Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:
• Part of living for the glory of Christ is learning to put to death the things in our lives that take away from Christ’s glory.
• Verses 5-9 list examples of some of the things we need to get rid of in our lives.
• Lists like this help us think of specific attitudes or actions we should try to eliminate from our lives.
• But we must not focus on the list itself, because another person could make a completely different list that would be just as valid.
• It is not that we should ignore such lists, but the point Paul is making is that if we set our minds on Christ, then such lists will automatically be dealt with in our lives.
Verse 10 - . . . put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator
• Paul is trying to shift our focus from the bad things we should not do, to the good things that God wants us to do.
• We often get hung up on lists of dos and don’ts, when we should be trying to have a renewed knowledge of Christ.
• We cannot have a renewed knowledge of Christ if we know little about Christ.
• WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) sounds great, but for far too many of us, we do not have a clue what Jesus would do because we have not invested enough time learning about and focusing on the life of Christ.
• As we learn about the life of Christ, our minds are renewed and out of that sense of renewal, we can change our behaviors and actions to be more like Christ.
Verse 11 - Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
• The church in Colossae included people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
• It was very easy to focus on people’s backgrounds instead of their position in Christ.
• The ground is level of the foot of the cross and as we focus on Christ alone, our backgrounds and social status melt away.
• In the end, Christ is all that matters, so let us focus our minds on Him and watch our lives change as we do something BIG for God.
• We must make sure we are genuine Christians in order for the spiritual life to be of any benefit.
• We must focus our minds on Christ in order to become what God wants us to be.
• We must thank God for His grace as our sins are hidden in Christ and the righteousness of Christ rests on us while we get our minds focused.
• We must learn as much as we can about Christ and turn all the glory back to Him in order to do something big for God.