God has provided everything we need in Christ. Forgiveness of sins, redemption, and the power to overcome sin are found in him.
Paul writes to a community that obviously needs reminded of this truth. The grace these individuals have received in Christ demands that they break free from their old life of sin. They started well (1.4-8), but somewhere along the way they’ve drifted off course. I’m guessing that most of us can relate and would, at certain points in our lives, fit right at home in this community.
While retreating at Sonrise Mountain Ranch this past week, I was reminded that we all need to continually check ourselves and the course that we’re on, so as to make sure that we’ll hit the destination that we desire (thanks McGee’s).
3.1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (TNIV).
Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ… This, again, points to the believers’ union with Christ—through faith, believers are united with him and thus share in his resurrection. Now, while some of Paul’s other letters refer to a future resurrection of believers (e.g., 1 Cor 15), Paul here says that these individuals have already been raised with Christ. Why? This is most likely due to the circumstances of his audience: they need to be reminded of the benefits that they currently enjoy in the present. This is evidenced by the fact that they have been turning to other things outside of Christ in attempt to subdue the flesh and for their spiritual fulfillment (see posts on 2.8-23). Paul wishes to assure his readers that nothing outside of Christ is needed—Christ has already won the battle (cf. 2.15). Through their union with him, they share in his victory (and resurrection) and therefore have all that they need for living godly lives in the present (see Col 1.10-14; 2.8-23). It is for this reason that Paul can exhort the community to put off sin and put on righteousness in the verses that follow (3.5-17).
…seek things above (2x). This involves an entire reorientation of perspective. Believers have died to the old life of sin and have been transferred to a new Kingdom where Jesus is Lord (Col 1.13-14). We, therefore, ought to align our desires, thoughts, and efforts with Him.
The adored brother Lawrence advises us to put to death every thought that detracts us from serving God or that undermines our salvation (The Practice of the Presence of God). This is a great way to put this text into practice. While recognizing the difficulty of this task, let’s make every effort to focus on Kingdom things, the things that matter to God, and not allow our minds to wander back into the life that is to have no part in the present, the life that we have left behind.
Verses 3-4 speak further to the assurance that we can have in Christ. “Hidden” may refer to the status that we enjoy as believers that they world cannot yet see. Or it may refer to the security of that status, in that our hope is tucked away or hidden safely in heaven (See Col 1.5, 23).
God, we praise you for the victory and freedom that we have in Christ. We praise you for the ability to live a new life that is holy and pleasing to you. May your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.