Colossians 3:1-5, 8-10, 12, 15
1 “Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is,seated at the right hand of God. 2 Keep thinking about things above, not things on the 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 too will be revealed in glory with him. 5 So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry. 8 But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices 10 and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 15 Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful.”
Putting off the old man is not so easy as it seems. Most of us do not partake of the “big” sins once we have accepted the free gift of salvation, but what about the “little” ones? They are included in the lists of wickedness, too, whether it be slander, anger or greed – and are just as significant as the sins most consider as worthy of condemnation. Is God expecting perfection? He knows we are flesh, but His payment for our sins was not so we could continue in sin. We are told to be holy as He is holy, which can only be done through our obedience, which is only through His grace.
It is not just the removal of the old, though – it is imperative that we also don our new garb in Christ. If we inherited our righteousness because of Christ, how do we put on this righteousness, if it has already been done for us? The Scripture above gives us some clues. We are never to think we have gotten to a place where we can be stagnant, for the automatic default is to be ungodly and our walk with God requires constant maintenance. Sounds tiring, I know, but the flesh is insatiable and must always be in check. Our natural impulse is to stray. Once redeemed, we can now see this war of the flesh. But seeing is not enough – action must follow.
The words “keep seeking” and “keep thinking” stood out to me as I read this morning. Our flesh gets tired and weary – we want to rest, yet we dare not. The greek word “zeteite” is translated “keep seeking”. This seeking is not a casual approach, but one that diligently seeks through thinking, meditating, reasoning, seeking after and striving after. It is a craving, a demand to know more of God. It is difficult to have this kind of fervency as we are cloaked in flesh living in a fallen world, for sure. But Scripture does not suggest this type of allegiance – it commands it. Forgive me this silly analogy, but it is one I can relate to: Our Christian walks can be likened to a situation in which a chocolate lover is placed in a chocolate factory and told to abstain. (My temptation, lol). The aroma tantalizes, the desire betrays the soul, but still, indulging is not permitted. Though surrounded in a sea of chocolate, we must choose to think on higher things and put to death the desires which war against our soul. While this analogy seems silly, the reality is that we are all surrounded with things in this world which tempt us away from a pure devotion to Christ. Maybe you are tempted severely right now and think you cannot choose. God would not put the words “keep seeking”, and “keep thinking” in His word if it was not possible. Do not believe satan’s lie that you are too weak to choose. We have the power of the Almighty God on your side. We get to choose! We have to recognize this truth and choose to walk in our new nature. God knows we need to constantly be saturating our minds and hearts with His Word and His promises to be able to be faithful and impact this world for His glory. So, how do we think on things above when surrounded? And what are the things above?
Sometimes we forget that we died. This reality seems strange when we are obviously still breathing, yet this truth is more than symbolism, it is a spiritual reality. Just as Christ went before us, died and rose again, we, too, must recognize that our flesh was crucified and we no longer live for self. It is this reckoning that helps us to recognize the reality of our lives in Christ. We are not alive to sin any longer. We live to please God now. Choosing to indulge in sinful lifestyle should be foreign to us now. That is the battle. The things of this world lose their appeal when we see them for what they really are – there is no comparison a cheap world substitute can have with the things of God.
But sometimes it is hard for us to understand what it means to think on things above. Is it clouds and harps that will give us the conviction to stay faithful? Hardly. Heaven has often been pictured as a bunch of clouds and cherubic beings (eating chocolate – my version). Is that what we are to think on to give us strength? No, something far greater – knowing and seeing God. No more pain, no more tears, no more sin! The absence of temptation. Let that sink in. No more battles. No more fears. Just finally in the presence of the One Who made us, knows us completely and loves us more than anyone ever could. That is our hope realized. Whatever Heaven promises, the greatest is finally being with the One Who made our souls to worship Him – where we belong. Until then, think on His truths, set our minds on His kingdom, on His Word. We might be plunged into difficult surroundings, but we still have a choice to think on what our soul really longs for – God.
Lord, help us to think on You. Be our life, be our joy, be our all in all. Help us to keep on – pressing on to know You more until we finally are in Your presence. May we be faithful and accomplish Your purposes here on earth.