Seeking in Colossians Three
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." - Colossians 3:1-4.
Paul begins with a premise: "You were raised with Christ." In becoming a Christian, an alien sinners responds to the good news (gospel) by being buried with Christ in baptism (see Rom. 6:1-4 & Col. 2:12). If your baptism is a burial, it involves being raised. That resurrection is not only from the death of sin, it is a resurrection that joins the baptized person to Christ. "You were raised with Christ." This expression is a reference to baptism, where you are buried with Christ then "raised" with Him; raised from the death of sin, and joined to Christ. That's the premise of this text.
The premise calls for action! If you were "raised with Christ," (baptized, joined to Christ), then there is an action you should engage in: "Seek those things which are above!" There were false teachers in the vicinity of Colossae, and they were advocating earthly remedies and human regulations: "do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," (see 2:21). They were telling heaven-bound people who had been "raised with Christ" to seek earthly remedies. Paul had already said these remedies were "of no value against the indulgence of the flesh," but now - he directs Christians to higher things: "Seek those things which are above." This means, as one "raised with Christ," I should shun the remedies and solutions of the earth, to seek "those things which are above." This means, active, persevering effort to appreciate and use the spiritual blessings God offers in Christ. "But seek the first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," (Matt. 6:33).
This seeking keeps me in touch with Christ! "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God." The false teachers who were working the Colossae area took delight in the worship of angels (2:18). Christians seek those things which are above, where Christ is; "far above all principality and power and might and dominion," (Eph. 1:21). We fix our thoughts upon Him, "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith," (Heb. 12:2).
This seeking promotes spiritual mindedness. "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." The system advanced by the false teachers in Colossae (probably a combination of Gnostic and Jewish philosophy), was, in essence, a materialistic system. It involved the "basic principles of the world," and regulations about things "which perish with the using." The whole frame of reference was worldly and humanistic, much like the New Age Movement of our time. We keep ourselves from the pollution of such a system by setting our minds on "things above, not on things on the earth." It will help us to realize that "to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace," (Rom. 8:6). Here is something that IS OF VALUE against the indulgence of the flesh - setting your mind on things above, not earthly things (see also, Phil. 3:18-20 and Phil. 4:8).
This seeking protects us. "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." In becoming a Christian, there is a DYING. "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Rom. 6:11). Those who have really died to sin and are now alive to God will seek the things above, and through that seeking they are afforded divine protection. The word "hidden" (Grk. GRUPTO) conveys the idea of protection (as in Heb. 11:23). So in our seeking of the things above, God protects us and keeps us, by His power "for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time," (1 Pet. 1:5).
Eventually, this seeking brings glory. "When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." This is the end result of seeking the things above!
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 1.12; December, 1994