The Apostle Paul wrote to the brethren at Colosse about how a Christian should live. In chapter three of the epistle Paul wrote, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). This statement causes the child of God to look within himself to determine if he is a true follower of Christ. Soul searching that is needed to make sure why one obeyed the gospel, and if he is living faithfully. From time to time there are those who respond to the invitation of Christ who have responded before but have come to realize that they really did not have the proper understanding of what was happening when they were obeyed the first time. Some fail to change their lives, and therefore never repent of the sinful lifestyle they had been living. The true convert realizes that he must turn aside from the world and seek out heaven. This seeking requires determination and dedication to live as Christ lived. It goes beyond a “surface “Christianity; it goes deep into understanding the love and mercy God has shown to them.
Paul continues his admonitions on Christian living by talking about where a person’s affections should be placed. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2), this is more difficult than some think. It would seem that if one is determined to follow Christ, then it would be easy to only have affections for spiritual and upright things. God, in His wisdom, knows His creation and has given many warnings against falling into Satan’s snare of thinking this will just happen. Jesus taught that man ought to “seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; (Matthew 6:33); that man ought not “Lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth“(Matt.6:19). The apostle John wrote, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 John 2:15-17). Paul’s advice points the child of God in the direction of heaven. Love for God and His Word, and of the hope of heaven must be on the mind of a true follower constantly. With a mindset on heaven, when Satan throws his darts the individual can see the way of escape from temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). Paul had to watch himself lest he become a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27). Just knowing that this great Apostle had to watch himself, lest he would fall, is ample evidence that setting ones affections on things above will be difficult at times.
Why should the Christian seek to do these things? Paul goes right back to Christ. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Christians must always be cognizant of this fact. At one time he lived only for self and for sin. Now all that has changed, and having died to self and to the world, a person’s allegiance is with Christ who gave Himself for man. The old man of sin no longer lives. His life is now “hid with Christ in God”. Often it is said that a preacher should “hide behind the cross” as he proclaims God’s word, which is true. Yet every Christian should be hiding behind God and His Son as they live their lives, much like a young child will cling to a mother’s coattail when he is afraid or injured. God is there for Christians. Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6, 7). Those outside of Christ will never know the peace and comfort of knowing there is a God who knows of the person’s pain and anguish and who is waiting to help.
Assurance is given to the Christian, whose life is centered on God that the crown of victory awaits. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4), Christ is the Christians reason for living. As Paul told those on Mars Hill, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; … For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28). Living for Christ each day seems trying to some, but those who desire to go to heaven know that it is worth giving up the “pleasure of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). The promise of eternal life in heaven is the goal of every Christian. Paul once referred to it as the “crown of righteousness” stating it was not only for him but for “unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Sin takes on many forms and the apostle gives examples of such. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” (Colossians 3:5-9).The sins mentioned were sins the Colossae Christians had been guilty of committing before they became Christians. The apostle bringing these to their attention serves to show Christians today that sins engaged in before one becomes a Christian must be “put to death”. If this does not happen the sins will raise their wicked heads and be snares for those trying to live for God. One item in the list of sins that troubles many is covetousness. It is hard to see covetousness, for many times it is a “secret” sin that seldom comes out in the open. Secret or not, it must be conquered. Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth, and lying many times are habitual in the lives of people. It takes a person being constantly on guard to break such habits, but it can and must be done. Those who fail to change their habits, and continue to engage in these sins, fail in trying to do as Paul has advised. That is why one must look within himself to make sure he is what he desires to be, and is not deceiving himself. James said, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:21-22). Again, the importance of “putting to death” these sins cannot be over- emphasized. Only when it is done will a Christian be able to live for God, and even then he must be on guard, less he fall.
The old man of sin has to be left behind and the new man goes forward following God. “seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” (3:9b-10). The new man is renewed in knowledge, knowledge of himself and of God. God’s word gives man truth and man is able to look into himself and see if he is what he needs to be. This comes only from “seeking those things above”.