In our study through Colossians, we pick up in chapter 2, verse 20, where Paul writes, “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations…?” When we make these kinds of regulations the end all regarding spirituality, these external obligations leave us void of hope because such rules only reveal our inability to “be spiritual” on our own. Paul makes this clear in Colossians 2:23, “But they [those regulations of the old law] don’t help people to stop doing the evil that the sinful self wants to do.” This concept is what Paul was trying to explain in Romans 7:8 when he wrote, “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.” He would go on to say, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans 7:18). If you are seeking to gain a real, genuine relationship with God, to become the authentic spiritual person God wants you to be, you must look elsewhere than self.
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above,
where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”
“If you died with Christ?” (2:20). “If then you were raised with Christ?” (3:1). Paul does not intend to cause doubt with these questions, but instead, reminds them of what happened when they placed their faith in Christ’s redemptive work. Remember, he just spoke of how they “were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). Thus, don’t seek anew those things that once held you captive; rather, pursue those things which are above. The word “seek” (nu 2212) means to search for, desire, require, demand. It is the same word used in Matthew 6:33, where Jesus encourages His disciples to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” This endeavor to seek is rooted in their belief in where Christ now reigns. What a profound question for the Christian! Where does Christ reign? F.F. Bruce writes, “Their life is the life of Christ, maintained in being by him at God’s right hand and shared by him with all his people.” He also says, “Their interests must therefore be his interests.” Desire what interests Him! Search for those things that are of Him!
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth.”
Remember, Paul is urging these young Christians not to get entangled in the “commandments and doctrine of men” (Colossians 2:22). Those things rob them of their liberty in Christ. Instead, he says, “set your minds on things above.” The ETRV says, “Think only about what is up there…”. The word set (nu 5426) means I direct the mind to. It is so easy to get distracted in life. Where the things of this world preoccupy our minds to the point where all other things get push to the side, even Christ. Setting our minds on Christ, on those things above, is a purposed act. Paul writes to those in Corinth, “So we think about what we cannot see, not what we see. What we see lasts only a short time, and what we cannot see will last forever” (ETRV, 2nd Corinthians 4:18). Do you see the intent? What direction were they being encouraged to go by the Jewish philosophers? It was own their own efforts! It certainly wasn’t toward Christ! F.F. Bruce writes, “Aim then at what is above…set your minds on that and let it give character to your outlook on everything.” He goes on to say, “Don’t let your ambitions be earthbound, set on transitory and inferior objects.” When we filter our ambitions through our risen Savior, we glorify Him, and transform into His likeness.
Why is this to be the goal of those who are in Christ? Why seek and set our minds after those things which are above? Simple, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Those external and earthly things of the old law and the human philosophy appear to be spiritual (Colossians 2:22-23) but are void of any transformative change; instead, they only imprison you once again. The life you now have is because of Christ. And because of this, you have this promise, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). The ETRV says, “Yes, Christ is now your life, and when he comes again, you will share in his glory.” There is no better reason to seek those things above and set our minds on them. Because of Him, it will all be worth it.