In Spartanburg, SC, lives an attorney named Art McQueen. He leads a community Bible study once a week at the Renaissance Hotel at 7am. His honest, squeaky clean life brings all manner of local business leaders, retired community leaders, and pastors of even mega-churches. All who know Art McQueen depend on and love him. Why? Because he is a man who is living the Christ Life.
Contextual Notes: Paul’s letter to the Colossian Christians is about being “in Christ.” The phrase or its pronominal derivative is found 47 times in the short letter. The central idea is found at chapter 2:6-7 where Paul encourages the Colossian believers to grow deep as disciples of Jesus Christ. After discouraging them from being gullible to the world’s deceptions (2:8), Paul describes the power of Christ and the power of the Cross (2:11-15). Then at verse 16, Paul moves from theory to practice, showing them how all this talk of Christ and philosophies (2:4, 8) works out in real life.
Real spirituality is not found in keeping human policies and procedures nor religious activity (2:22). Spiritual reality and true liberty is found in Christ alone (2:17). Now at chapter 3, Paul encourages the Colossian believers to think in a different way because of Christ. Christ calls us to a higher plane of living, to live from a perspective of eternity, based on what Christ has done for us (Colossians 1-2), and the real liberty found only in Him.
Pray and Read: Colossians 3:1-4
1Since, then you were raised with Christ, focus urgently on the upward things where Christ is at the right hand of God sitting. 2Keep on thinking about the upward things, not things upon the earth. 3For you died, and your life has been locked together with Christ in God. 4Whenever Christ is manifested, the One Who is your life, then also you, together with Him, will be manifested in glory.
Key Truth: Paul wrote Colossians 3:1-4 to teach the Colossian Christians to focus their spirits, minds, and lives on Christ.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about life in Christ.
- Focus your spirit on Christ (Col 3:1)
- Focus your mind on Christ (Col 3:2-3)
- Focus your life on Christ (Col 3:4)
Exposition: Note well,
1. FOCUS YOUR SPIRIT ON CHRIST. (COL 3:1)
a. 1Since, then you were raised with Christ, focus urgently on the upward things where Christ is at the right hand of God sitting.
b. ζητεῖτε: “Focus urgently,” “seek with focus, urgency.” Imperative, continuing action.
c. τὰ ἄνω: Therefore focus urgently on “the upward things.”, i.e, the treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:20).
d. The Reason to focus urgently: because of Christ’s resurrection and His sitting enthroned in heaven.
i. Sitting Priest at right hand. Paul alluding to Psalm 110: 1 The LORD says to my Lord: / "Sit at my right hand / until I make your enemies / a footstool for your feet.
ii. Hebrews 1:3: After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
iii. Romans 8:34: 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
iv. Ephesians 1:20: 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
v. Mark 16:19: 19After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God
e. Illustration: A.W. Tozer wrote, “All of those intellectual preachers are busy reading the news magazines so they will be able to comment on the world situation from their pulpits on Sunday mornings. But that is not what God called me to do. He called me to preach the glories of Christ. He commissioned me to tell my people there is a kingdom of God and a throne in the heavens. And that we have One of our own representing us there. That is what the early church was excited about. And I think our Lord may have reason to ask why we are no longer very excited about it. The Christian church in the first century was ablaze with this concept of the risen and victorious Christ exalted at the right hand of the Father. Although it worshipped no other man, it urged the worship of this glorified and exalted Man as God, because He had always been the eternal Son, the second Person of the Godhead.”
f. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection and our participation in it, we live in a new realm of reality, an eternal reality, a unified reality. (First class conditional: assumed to be true).
i. Romans 6:5: 5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
g. Matthew Henry: “Should we not set our affections upon that world, and live above this? What is there here to make us fond of it? What is there not there to draw our hearts to it? Our head is there, our home is there, our treasure is there, and we hope to be there forever.”
i. Philippians 3:14, 20: 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
ii. Colossians 2:12-13: 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
iii. Ephesians 2:4-6: 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
h. APPLICATION: Your motivation to prayer comes from Christ’s resurrection and His intercession for us. We focus our spirits on Christ through the medium of prayer. That is why we should pray in the spirit. So how is your prayer life? Are you seeking him daily? Do you have a set time to pray every day? Do you have a place you pray? Are you being intentional about praying for your family, your church, and your government? A growing disciple is a person with a vital prayer lifestyle.
2. FOCUS YOUR MIND ON CHRIST (COL 3:2-3)
a. 2Keep on thinking about the upward things, not things upon the earth. 3For you died, and your life has been locked together with Christ in God.
b. “Set your minds” – phoneite – “consider, be intent upon, sensible, reasonable. Why?
c. Because of eternal security: Hidden from verb “krupto” meaning “hidden, locked together with” A.T. Robertson: “No hellish burglar can break that combination.”
d. Because you have died, your life has been hidden, treasured, locked up tight with Christ in God (Psalm 27:5-6). You have eternal security. Notice the comparison. Christ is your treasure in heaven. You are Christ’s treasure on earth! This is the key to the doctrine of eternal security. We are his treasure. How could he let us go or throw us back? Who is going to take his treasure from him?
e. Our salvation is secure: John Gill: “He is the spring of it; it arises originally from him; it was purposed in him; it was promised by him; it was hid in him; it was given by him; he is the fountain of it; and therefore the saints can never perish, nor need they fear any enemy.”
i. Psalm 27:5-6: 5 For in the day of trouble / he will keep me safe in his dwelling; / he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle / and set me high upon a rock. / 6 Then my head will be exalted / above the enemies who surround me; / at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; / I will sing and make music to the LORD.
ii. Isaiah 49:2: 2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, / in the shadow of his hand he hid me; / he made me into a polished arrow / and concealed me in his quiver.
iii. 2 Timothy 1:12: 12That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
iv. John 10:28-30: 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one.”
f. Because you have died to the basic principles of this world (Col 2:20), your focus can now be on Christ. We have lost all connection to this world. Aorist “once for all,” We are separated.
i. Galatians 2:20: 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 6:14: 14May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
ii. Romans 6:2, 11: 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
g. Illustration: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Grover’s Corners.
i. Philippians 4:8: 8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
h. Matthew Henry: “Every Christian is crucified unto the world, and the world is crucified unto him, Gal_6:14. And if we are dead to the earth, and have renounced it as our happiness, it is absurd for us to set our affections upon it, and seek it. We should be like a dead thing to it, unmoved and unaffected towards it.”
i. APPLICATION: We focus our minds on Christ by walking out our study of the Bible in real life. As a disciple, I must evaluate everything in light of eternity. “The upward things” – ta ano – are not just spiritual, but also ethical. I must ask, “How will I affect eternity in this? What are the ultimate consequences?”
i. Work – dealing with employees, employer, what you drink, jokes,
ii. School – not on basis of best grade or most popularity, but how to honor Christ – eternal consequences
iii. Relationships – marriage, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend
iv. Money – sale, contract, loan, not on basis on bottom line but in light of eternity, what is honest, what would benefit the other person.
v. Home – not just housework, laundry, diaper changes, cleaning bathroom -- creating a home where children can grow to learn to serve God. Illus. Susanna Wesley: 12 children, John Wesley the youngest.
Matthew 6:33: 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
3. FOCUS YOUR LIFE ON CHRIST. (COL 3:4)
a. 4Whenever Christ is manifested, the One Who is your life, then also you, together with Him, will be manifested in glory.
b. We focus our lives on Christ because we look forward to a Second Coming of Christ: “then you also will appear with him in glory.”
i. 2 Thessalonians 1:10: 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
c. Paul is pointing directly to Moses’ final sermon on Mount Pisgah/Nebo just before the sons of Israel crossed into the Promised Land.
i. Deuteronomy 30:20: 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 32:47: 47 They are not just idle words for you-they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."
d. For believers in Christ, He Himself is your life. (Colossians 3:4)
i. His Death and Resurrection is yours (Colossians 3:1, 3)
e. ILLUSTRATION: Andrew Murray once wrote a book called “The Exchanged Life.” And the Christian life is an exchange of my own dirty rags of a life for His eternal life.
i. John 1:4: 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 11:25: 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 14:6: 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
ii. 2 Corinthians 4:10, 11: 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
iii. Philippians 1:21: 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
iv. 1 John 5:11-12: 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
f. Christ is not a part of your life, a compartment. He IS your life.
g. ILLUSTRATION: I had college friends who received Christ, then went home for the holidays and while there, their parents told them to be careful not to become fanatics, to keep religion in its proper place, separated from other aspects of your lives. Exactly the opposite of the Gospel. When Christ becomes Lord, that word Lord means he takes over everything in our lives – our work, our conversation, our education, our life choices, our friendships, our living arrangements, our diet, our recreation.
h. Larry Richards: “Christianity is not just a passion for holiness. It is a way of thinking.” It is a practice of building holy strongholds, a different orientation to life, having a worldview that is constantly taking Christ and his Kingdom into account.
i. ILLUSTRATION: On a trip to New England once with a friend and his youth minister, Jackie Gibbs from Camden, SC, the cashier did not give enough change and my friend argued with him. When we went out the door, Jackie pulled my friend (who is now a missionary) to the side and said to him, “Now share the gospel with him. Can’t do it, can you? Was that change worth that?”
j. APPLICATON: I’m talking about the Sacrament (holiness) of everyday living. There is no sacred/secular dichotomy for a Christian. There is a unity of reality in which all affects all. Your life – is it an act of worship? Focusing your life on Christ means your life is an act of worship. You are praying without ceasing because you are worshiping without ceasing. You are living with a focus on Christ. Are you doing that?
k. ILLUSTRATION: Brother Lawrence, Practice of the Presence of God – for him peeling potatoes was an act of worship.
l. ILLUSTRATION: “Meister Eckhart wrote: ‘There are plenty to follow our Lord half-way, but not the other half. They will give up possessions, friends and honors, but it touches them too closely to disown themselves.’ It is just this astonishing life which is willing to follow Him the other half, sincerely to disown itself, this life which intends complete obedience, without any reservations, that I would propose to you in all humility, in all boldness, in all seriousness. I mean this literally, utterly, completely, and I mean it for you and for me–commit your lives in unreserved obedience to Him. If you don’t realize the revolutionary explosiveness of this proposal you don’t understand what I mean. Only now and then comes a man or a woman who, like John Woolman or Francis of Assisi, is willing to be utterly obedient, to go the other half, to follow God’s faintest whisper. But when such a commitment comes in a human life, God breaks through, miracles are wrought, world-renewing divine forces are released, history changes. There is nothing more important now than to have the human race endowed with just such committed lives. To this extraordinary life I call you – or He calls you through me – as a lovely ideal, a charming pattern to aim at hopefully, but as a serious, concrete program of life, to be lived here and now, in [information] America, by you and by me.”
m. APPLICATION: Are you willing to give up everything – you’re your own self? We live in this eternal place of reality where supernatural and natural are not distant, but intermixed.
n. Sadly, some do not see this Reality: “The rich young ruler made his decision on the basis of what he wanted most in life. The last thing we know about him is the fact that he turned from Jesus and walked away. . . Every faithful pastor can tell you the stories of young people and men and women who walked away from the church and warm Christian fellowship to have their own way. When the old nature stirred, they turned their backs on God and walked away. They went into questionable marriages. They went into worldly alliances. They took jobs in which there was no chance to please and glorify God. They went back into the world.”
 A.W. Tozer, Jesus Our Man in Glory, Ch. 1.
 Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Colossians 3:1-4.
 Thomas Kelly, Testament of Devotion, 70-72.
 AW Tozer, Keys to the Deeper Life, 76, 75, 54.