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Janet's Corner

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A Heart Set on Things Above

Colossians 3:1-4

 

Our theme this time through Colossians is a heart united, encouraged and captivated. Today we will see this in light of our mindset toward the truth about who we are and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Last week we looked at the end of Chapter 2 where we are encouraged that just as we received Christ through faith, we are to walk in Him through faith. The picture I used last week is that our life is framed with the confession that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”  As we walk out our lives through faith in Jesus Christ, we fill the picture with the reality of our life in response to the truth of His word. The reality of our life then reflects Jesus to the world. Paul warned the believers not to put anything in their frame that did not fit in the frame of “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Paul specifically warns the believers not to be caught up in rules and regulations or mysticism or self-denial to get closer to God. These will just put them back into bondage again. He calls them to walk in the freedom Christ has given them because of their faith in who He is and the sufficiency of His work on the cross.

Let’s read Colossians 2:20-3:4

We needed to read those verses directly before chapter 3 to understand Paul’s flow of thought. When Paul wrote this letter, there were no paragraphs or chapter divisions. Paul gives us the answer to the last statement in 2:23. If these forms of self-imposed worship, false humility and harsh treatment of the body do not control the sinful nature, what does?

If we look at other verses in the New Testament we see that we are called to control our fleshly desires through several different teachings.

1.     Romans 13:14 says do not think on how to gratify those desires of the sinful nature.

2.     Galatians 5 speaks to the truth that we are to live by the Spirit

3.     Jesus says in Matthew 26:41 that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, so we must watch and pray against temptation.

4.     II Timothy 2:22 says we need to go a different direction , fleeing from evil desires and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace like others are doing. We are not alone in this pursuit!

5.     I Thessalonians 5:21-22 says test everything, hold onto good and avoid evil of every kind.

In our frame Jesus is Lord, the Word does not just warn us about what we can get kidnapped by as we fill our frame, but also the Word gives us understanding of how to control the flesh. It was interesting to discover that almost all these verses were based on our relationship with Christ. We can’t control the flesh without knowing who we are in Christ – our position in Christ gives us not only the mindset but the empowerment for victory.

 

In chapter 3 Paul addresses this issue of controlling the flesh by giving us two commands:

1.     to seek or set our hearts on things above

2.     to set our minds on things above.

The Greek words for the two times “set” is used are different. The first word, to set, indicates that we are to continually look for, desire to possess things above where Christ is seated. How? We set our minds of those things, not on earthly things. That second word, set, points us toward actively and continually having a mindset, which includes our will, our affections, and our conscience, focused on things above.

What is the basis for this heavenly mindset? Our relationship with Christ or our position in Christ. This includes the truths that if we have believed in who Christ is and the sufficiency of His work on the cross:

1.     You have died with Him

2.     You have been raised with Him

3.     Your life is hidden with Christ in God,

4.     Your life is Christ

5.     You will appear with him in glory

Let’s take the time to think through these truths. We have not only died with Christ, but we have been raised with Him. So where is Christ now, and what is He doing? And what is our relationship to Him because of our faith?

John 14:2-3 states that Jesus is preparing a place for each of us in heaven and promises to come back and get us. This world is not our end. We will die and have a place in heaven!

Hebrews 7:24-25 Jesus is our high priest interceding before the throne of God for each of us. He is able to save each of us completely – which means fully and permanently – for all time and eternity!

 

So in God’s heart and plan where are we in relation to Christ who is seated in the heavenly realms?

Ephesians 2:4-6: We are alive in Christ because of God’s great love for us and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms. Spiritually we are seated with Christ at the right hand of God.

Romans 8:29-30: Jesus will conform us into His likeness because of what he has done for us – predestined us, called us, justified us and glorified us.

II Corinthians 5:14-17:  We are new creations – no longer serving ourselves but the one who died and rose again for us!

 

God’s Word says that our life is hidden with Christ in God: Christ is our life. That is the key to living with our minds set on things above. Recognizing that Christ is our life makes the difference between living in victory or defeat at any moment. We are to live by the Spirit, not our flesh, for His glory, not our pleasure.

Let’s look at a few verses that emphasize the fact because we have died and been raised with Christ -  Christ is now our life.

Romans 8:9-13:  The Spirit of God lives in us!

Two facts: body is dead because of sin and spirit is alive because of righteousness. What does the Spirit do to the body? The Spirit of God can give life to your dead body! If you live by the Spirit! So our response to the Spirit of God is to let him have his way – listen to the Spirit of God.

Philippians 1:20-21: Paul prays that his expectation and hope is not to be ashamed, but to have the courage to glorify God in life or in death. So Paul says to live is Christ (to glorify him now) and to die is gain (to be fully glorified with Him). Because Christ is our life, we need to pray that we will receive courage – not from ourselves, but from the Spirit alive within us – to glorify God. To fill that frame with that which represents our life in Christ!

Philippians 3: 8-11: As I look down the road before me, am I really looking at the other things I had in my life as priorities at one time as rubbish? Have I made the priorities of my life in Christ to know Him, the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings? We must know Him if we are to reflect him. We must believe that His Spirit living within us has the power to change us. We must understand that it is often through suffering that we get to know Christ and that he changes us. As I was reflecting on this, I had to ask the Lord if my heart really wanted to be changed by the power of His resurrection. Do I just give into what is familiar, easy, usual - what is just “me” – and use it as an excuse, missing the power of God’s Spirit alive and well within me?

The Spirit of God is alive within us and will give us courage to glorify Him no matter what as we set our priorities in Him!

So now Jesus has taken care of our sinful nature on the cross and we are alive with Him, seated in the heavenlies. And even though we still have to live in this body, we can live by faith in Jesus –trusting Him for the victory over our bodies and its tendency toward giving into our evil nature. And we do it by His strength and grace and not our own. We have the hope of heaven and all that means – there’s a book…  Maybe the hope of heaven is what you need to set you mind on – that there will be a day when the trumpet sounds and we will all be changed and as a kingdom of priest we will serve God and reign with Christ forever.

 

So Paul says in order to fill that frame with that which represents “Jesus is Lord,” set your minds on things above, so your hearts will be devoted to things above. You have believed in me, now believe me. Put your hope, your expectation, your trust in what Jesus can do in you! Christ in you is the hope of glory.

 

What verse can help you focus on these truths? Put them in a strategic spot around the house, in your pocket or in your car – or best of all in your mind – by memorizing it – so your heart will be set on things above.