Set Your Heart on Heavenly Things

Colossians 3:1-4 SCC 4/22/12


Therefore if you

            Paul has just explained the deception, frustration and futility of trying to live the "spiritual life" or the "higher life" in reliance on the fallen flesh and legalistic, ascetic or mystic guidance. It cannot work. It won't work. It did not work before we were saved and it will not work after we are saved. Paul once again reminds them of their resurrection with Christ which he had just mentioned in Col 2:12 which conveys a new (resurrection) power by which one can live the true spiritual life, the genuine higher life. With this therefore, Paul concludes that since the ways of legalism, asceticism and mysticism were unable to give us victory over "fleshy indulgence" the believer is to shift his or her focus from horizontal to vertical.

            Notice that in Colossians 3:1 the fact that we have been raised precedes the command ‘to keep seeking’. The former (indicative) describes the reality a believer's life, a truth that should motivate the keeping of the command (imperative). Right belief is always a firm foundation for right (righteous) behavior. The tense here indicates our resurrection with Christ is in the past and is a completed action, which was reckoned true in our life the moment we by grace through faith received Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Have been raised up with Christ

            Not only have we died with Christ but we have also been raised with Christ. This is also in the passive voice, which signifies the power to bring about our resurrection was from outside of us, specifically from God. Can you see the implications if our life is intimately bound with Christ? Clearly His infinite, inexhaustible resurrection power is available to all believers!

Keep Seeking the Things Above

            We are to set our hearts on these things now. In the Greek this phrase is placed first in the sentence for emphasis (and to contrast with the earthly things the false teachers were propagating). In addition Paul repeats this phrase the things above in the next verse (Col 3:2). Clearly, he wants believers to view all of life from a heavenly perspective rather than earthly perspective. The direction of our life is now to be heavenward. Keep seeking means to seek after and strive for earnestly, to strive to find something, to devote serious effort to realize one’s desire or objective, to aim at, to try to obtain some state or condition. Practically to seek the things above involves giving your attention to Jesus, giving Him first place in everything, giving Him priority, desiring Him above anything on earth, continually making a deliberate choice to follow Him, to obey Him, to think about Him, to meditate on His life giving Word, in order to find Him. The three-part test involves your checkbook, your calendar and your home.

Where Christ is seated at the right hand of God

            Both verbs "is" and "seated" are present tense, indicating that this is Christ's continual position, the position of supreme privilege and authority. Christ is at God's right hand, the place of honor and eventually judgment (Rev 5 formal ceremony of Christ taking the scroll).


Set your mind

            Set refers to the basic orientation, bent, and thought patterns of the mind, rather than to the intellect per se, and thus it refers more to one's inner impulse or disposition, while keep seeking (Col 3:1) marks a practical pursuit or striving after. Both are to be upward focused. Indeed, a sure safeguard to impede seeking the things below is a continual setting of our mind upon the things above!

On the things Above

            Setting one's minds on things above involves an act of one's will (active voice) and is something we must choose to do (a command, not optional) continually (present tense = habitual). The best Christian lives come from minds that are fixed on heaven. We have no affection for anything else. In short, the number one way to believers can "look up" is to fix their minds on the special revelation of God in His Word.

Not on the Things on the Earth

            The expression, "things on the earth," takes in a wide scope. It includes every dimension of human existence. So what is the outcome of this perspective? THE FOLLY OF SETTING OUR AFFECTIONS ON THINGS ON THE EARTH

1. They destroy while they please.

2. They are unsatisfactory. A good way to begin is to discover what our eternal God values. A heart set upon heaven is an evidence of your sincerity.


For you have Died    

            Note "died" is first in Greek sentence to emphasize this life-changing event. For introduces and explains the reason "living in the heavenlies" (seeking and thinking the things above) is to be the norm for each believer even though we are still on terra firma--earth. Having died to the world system (Gal 6:14) through faith we have an intimate union with Christ in His death and resurrection. The tense of died speaks of a past completed action. Believers died with Christ the moment they placed their faith in His death. This same truth is taught elsewhere by Paul especially in Romans 6.

            The mood of have died is the mood of reality indicating that our death with Christ was a real event even though we cannot fully comprehend the nature of this supernatural transaction. The practical truth is that when we died with Christ in the past, we died to the power, rule, mastery, and enslavement to the old taskmaster of sin. It has now been rendered inoperative. This stresses again Christ’s total sufficiency.

And you life is Hidden with Christ in God

            Hidden is a tense, which indicates that it was hidden at some point in time. That is the day of your salvation and remains hidden or concealed which conveys the ideas of permanency and irrevocability. The death (aorist tense) is over, but the results of the hiding (perfect tense) of the life in Him abide. Three thoughts are suggested by the verb ‘hidden’.

(1) Safety or security: Believers are permanently hidden, securely locked together with Christ.

(2) Identity: Believers are now intimately linked "together with" Christ in God.

(3). Secrecy: Thus, his bent of life is to be directed toward its source and away from the visible and carnal (above not earth).

            With conveys the picture of intimate union, bringing out the truth that we are now in (new) relationship with Him and our oneness and identity is with Christ. Believers now share a common life with the Father and Son.


When Christ Who is our life is Revealed

            The hidden life is not hidden forever. There will be a glorious consummation at the manifestation of the Son. Revealed means to cause to become visible, to make appear, to cause to be seen, uncover, lay bare, reveal. The point is that one-day we will be seen externally as we really are and the lost world will see who we are in Christ for when we see Christ we shall be like Him. The literal reading of Christ our life is even better! Christ does not merely give life; He is life. He Himself is in the believer. The life that is in Christ is in the believer.

            In a sense the fulfillment of this verse in Colossians is an answer to Jesus' prayer...Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24).

Then you also…revealed with Him in glory

            When it is said—Christ our life shall appear, the meaning is, that He shall appear in the character of our life. To appear as our life, implies our relation to Him as His living ones. Life with Christ is an endless hope. Without Him a hopeless end. All that we long to become 
will find fulfillment when we see Jesus. Even though Jesus spoke the truth in a powerful, irrefutable way, and even though His works spoke for themselves, He did not receive the recognition He deserved. Yet someday everyone will bow before Him and give Him the honor due His name. Even though our beginnings may seem insignificant, we can look forward to a glorious, happy ending.