As we often struggle through life, trying to live as we ought and to be who we ought, we tend to lose our momentum and fall into the ruts of our sins. Is there something else we need, as Christians, to add to the Gospel that we believed in order to be saved, in order to live successfully? As the Apostle Paul transitions the letter to the Colossians at the beginning of chapter 3, he makes sure to ground the commands to live well on the foundation of all that he has spoken of in the first two chapters.
Colossians 3:1-3 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
If we really understand what has taken place as we have believed the Gospel, that all we have in Christ is based on God’s power and faithfulness and not our ability to perform, the motivation should not be to live as though sin was not an issue, but to live out of gratitude for the amazing GIFT of Christ’s Righteousness graciously given to us. Therefore, the Apostle says, “If then you were raised with Christ….” Have you really been forgiven of all of your sins? Has your status changed from enemy and alien to son? Have you been rescued from the power of darkness and made a citizen of the Kingdom of God’s Son? Have you, who were dead in sin, been made alive through the Gospel, by God’s grace? If this is the case, where is your focus to be?
If then you were raised with Christ, SEEK those THINGS which are ABOVE, where Christ is sitting, at the right hand of God. SET YOUR MIND on THINGS ABOVE…. The very God whom we have offended is now the One who has reconciled us. Jesus is our Mediator, that is, He sits in the presence of the Father, representing us to Him. Our lives are hidden with Christ and are in God. So as surly as Christ is in the Father’s presence, so are we! This amazing gift, the status of being in Christ and in the Presence of the Father is the basis of our focus.
His amazing love and the greatness of His gift is the thing that changes our focus from earthly things to HIM. It gets our mind off of self, performance and sin and moves us to selfless service to our Great God and Savior. Thus, Paul continues;
Colossians 3:5-10 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
The “therefore” indicates that this is also derived from the truth that has gone before. If we are to follow the command to kill the sin in our lives, it has to be done through the change of attitude that comes from acknowledging the foundational truths that came before in the letter. Our focus on Christ and His Gospel is the motivation to keep the command. We don’t need more than that Gospel, we just need to grow in the Gospel. We need to, as the old Puritan writers used to say, preach the Gospel to ourselves every day. As we see in the tenth verse, the “new man” is “renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” That is as we get to know the Christ who saved us better, we become more and more like Him.
So, the basic idea here is that rather than focus on self, performance or sin, that we intentionally draw ourselves back to the amazing grace of God as we see it demonstrated in Christ. We consider the absolute wonder of being so thoroughly and closely identified with the Savior and let that move us to love and obedience. This moving of focus from self to the Savior is the beginning of the change of desires and of deeds that is necessary for followers of Christ to have in our lives. We have been commanded to “set our minds on things above,” to “seek the things that are above,” to put to death our [sinful] members…” and to “put on the new man.” But the bare commands will never be accomplished without the “If thens” and the “therefores.” Meditate on the wonders of the Gospel, preach it to yourself everyday. This is the way that we have been given. I encourage you to listen to the audio of this sermon by clicking on the link below.
“If Thens” and “Therefores” – AUDIO