What Were You Thinking? – Colossians 3:1-4 08/23/20

What Were You Thinking? – Colossians 3:1-4 08/23/20

The main thematic argument throughout the letter to the Colossians is the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things. As Paul has emphasized this, he’s also indirectly addressed the heretical teachings that the church in Colossi was being exposed to.[1] But it is never enough to simply refute what’s wrong, it is at least as important to present the positive alternative.[2]

If, as Christians, our message stops with what’s wrong with our society, all we do is add to the wreck we’re already in. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter what the issue is, corruption, immorality, racism; in each and every case Christianity has the answer. If our message devolves into what we’re against we’ve lost the battle. Our message is this: we may be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. He, then, changes our hearts.

Our text today is Colossians 3:1-4, which as usual, I leave for you to look up. At chapter three we hit a break-point.[3] Up to now Paul has been providing theological instruction, now he transitions into a discussion regarding how these truths should be fleshed out in life.[4] Fundamentally, if we honestly grasp the things Paul’s been teaching, we have the remedy for the passions that seek to pull us away from out walk with Jesus.[5] The solution to that problem is this; the same power that brought about the resurrection of Jesus Christ is at work in each of us who follow Jesus. He releases a power in us that’s more than sufficient to check our fallen appetites.[6] It is our union with Jesus, remember “in Him,” that is the root principle of the entire Christian life.[7]

The message of the cross, without the resurrection, is not good news.[8] What’s more, a message that calls for embracing the implications of Jesus’ death without embracing the implications of His resurrection is powerless teaching.[9] However, when the resurrection is included, it has powerful implications for the life of every follower of Jesus.[10] But the resultant changes are not self-contrived, the passive language used in the passage points to a divine work producing supernatural change.[11]

At the same time, the passage says we should be seeking those things which are above.[12] But what does it mean to “seek”? The word used in (ζητεῖτε).[13] The word conveys the sense of urgency or deep desire.[14] Those who hunt “seek” (ζητεῖτε)[15] the game they’re hunting, expending a great deal of time and effort in the process. So it is with our seeking those things which are above. We are to strive for these things with all that we are.[16] The intent in this passage is that we seek God with all that we are all of the time. Here “seek” (ζητεῖτε)[17] is a command in the present tense.[18] This emphasizes that this is a continuous effort on our part, it is not something that will “just happen.”[19] We will need to train ourselves to this, it is a part of Christian growth and maturing. It is a reflection of Christian discipline.

With our death, the ties to our old life have been broken and, with our resurrection with Christ, new ties have been established.[20] This points to a definitive change in perspective;[21] obviously we haven’t yet experienced our physical resurrection, but that event is so certain that we live as if we had. The change Paul is calling for is the sort of change that is the result of our complete identification with another person, in this case, Jesus.[22] But here’s what’s so amazing about this; to be made alive to God necessarily produces holiness of life in all of its dimensions.[23]

We don’t instantly change, this is a process we enter into. This is not some esoteric mystic command, this is the practice of a practical cast of mind, one that is expressed in our current circumstances.[24] As we do this, we begin to judge all that we’re exposed to in light of the new creation and the new order we belong to.[25] None of this means we’ve left the world, or that we’re supposed to retreat from it and live in monasteries.[26] It doesn’t mean we don’t experience loss or suffering or grief or illness. It is in the midst of all these things, it is precisely as we focus our lives, our thoughts, our agendas, around the Person of Jesus that our lives are transformed and we are able to be obedient to Him,[27] and our testimony speaks with power to those around us.

Right now, this life that we now hold “secretly” will one day be manifest for all to see… at Jesus’ return.[28] We’ve already passed from death to life.[29] We aren’t simply associated with Christ, we are identified with Christ.[30] As a Christian there is only one life left to me, and that’s Christ’s. And yet, we wait for the culmination of that life, it will be revealed with Jesus as we are revealed with Him.[31] We are in Him, and we will always be with Him, and so we wait for His return.[32]

So, how are you doing? Is your mind set on things above? In the press of everyday life is this reality always lurking in the background? It should be, even acknowledging that there are true hardships in life that can threaten to break us. But in Jesus they won’t. In fact, the trials of this life ultimately fade into inconsequentiality in light of our relationship with Jesus and all that He promises.

What is your mind set on? Are you filling it with filth? Or are you filling it with the knowledge of the Lord Jesus and the things above? This requires a decision to set our minds on Him in the midst of all the distractions around us. It requires that we train our minds. Is your mind in training?

[1] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 199. [2] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 199. [3] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 353. [4] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 353. [5] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 209. [6] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 209. [7] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 209. [8] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 203. [9] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 203. [10] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 203. [11] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 203. [12] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 354. [13]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:1. [14] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 354. [15]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:1. [16] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 209. [17]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:1. [18] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.: 1982), 160. [19] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.: 1982), 160. [20] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.: 1982), 160. [21] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 204. [22] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 204. [23] Earle Wilson, Alex Deasley, and Barry Callen, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Bible Commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. Ed., David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2007), 332. [24] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 205. [25] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1984), 134. [26] Eduard Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 133. [27] Eduard Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 133. [28] Eduard Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 134. [29] Eduard Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 134. [30] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I. Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 208. [31] Eduard Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 134. [32] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 355.

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