Christ: Our Life

Christ: Our Life

“Christ: Our Life”
(Colossians 3:1-4)
Series: The All-Satisfying Christ (Colossians)

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson

I invite you to take your Bibles and join me in the Book of Colossians, chapter 3 (page 793; YV).

While you are finding Colossians 3, let’s be sure to take home a gift bag and invite a neighbor or friend, or co-worker to our special Christmas service next Sunday at the Fine Arts Center. I so look forward to next Sunday’s worship.

Today we begin the second half of Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse. Many of you will remember we noted that Paul writes this letter such that the first half of the letter is doctrinal information and the second half is practical application. Chapters 1-2 doctrinal information, chapters 3-4 practical application.

And we have noted that this is Paul’s writing style in much of his letter writing. Doctrine comes before duty. Right theology must inform right living. Proper learning precedes proper living.

So in Romans Paul writes 11 chapters about new life in Christ and there is all this great doctrinal information about new life in Christ that precedes the practical application of a lifestyle in Christ being lived out from Chapter 12 forward. So after 11 chapters of doctrine, Paul writes in Romans 12, “Therefore,” offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…”

He does the same in Ephesians, the first half, chapters 1-3 about doctrinal information concerning a new life in Christ, and then the second half, chapters 4-6, about practical application, how the new life in Christ leads to a new lifestyle for Christ. So he begins that practical section in chapter 4 and beyond with the words, “Therefore…walk worthy of your calling…”

And Paul does the same here in Colossians, chapters 1-2 are full of doctrinal information concerning the preeminent Christ and one’s new life in Him, and now chapters 3-4 are the practical application about living a lifestyle for Him.

And this is why he begins as he does in chapter 3 and verse 1: “If (or since) then you were raised with Christ,” then, verses 5 and following, “Therefore put to death” these sins and so on.

You can’t live a life that pleases God apart from receiving a new life in Christ. New Lifestyle requires new life. And Paul stresses in the introductory verses of chapter 3 that the Christian’s lifestyle is a lifestyle wrapped up entirely in Christ. He actually says in verse 4 that Christ is our life, or more literally, “Christ our life.” That’s what we’re going to be talking about this morning: “Christ, our Life.”

• Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.

1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Let’s pray: “God and Father, help us to know what these four verses really mean. Holy Spirit teach us as we study. Teach us what it means to have a life totally consumed with Jesus Christ that we may be able to say, ‘Christ is our life.’ We ask this in the name of Your Son, Jesus, amen.”


Ever since the 10th or 11th grade in high school I have had to correct my vision for nearsightedness. To be near sighted means that you have difficulty focusing on things far away. So I’ve had to wear corrective lenses—contacts or glasses—in order to help me focus and see clearly things that are in the distance.

I’ve always found physical nearsightedness to be a helpful parable for spiritual nearsightedness. Jesus compares physical eyesight to spiritual eyesight. Remember John 9? After He heals the blind man, the Pharisees get all worked up about his healing on the Sabbath so Jesus says:

“For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
Then some of the Pharisees…said to Him, “Are we blind also?” And Jesus responds, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains (John 9:39-41).”

So Jesus is like, “You may be able to see physically, but you don’t see so well spiritually. Your physical eyesight is good enough, but your spiritual eyesight is poor.”

The Gospel corrects our vision. Sometimes we can see only what is up close and miss the reality of the things in the distance, things in the future, the eternal.

The Gospel helps us see things clearly. The Gospel restores our focus. The Gospel ensures that our spiritual eyesight is sharp and clear.

Paul’s writing of this letter to the Colossians is to help the believers at Colosse see clearly. The false teachers have clouded their vision. The false teachers have tried to get the Colossians to look beyond Christ. They have tried to get their eyes off Jesus and tried to get them looking in other places for the “deeper,” more spiritual life. And Paul writes this letter to get the Christians looking at Christ. In one sense, Paul is writing this letter to correct the vision of the Colossians, to restore their focus, to help them—as the writer says in Hebrews 12:2—to fix their eyes on Jesus.

So this morning’s passage helps us in the same way. If you are a Christian, then God is speaking to you right now in His word. Isn’t that wonderful?! What Paul says to the Christians in Colosse applies to the Christians in Kentucky. Here’s the first action from verse 1:

I. Seek Those Things which are Above [1]

Seek, or look, set your sights on the things which are above. Verse 1 again says:

1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

The word “if” there is better translated “since.” The grammar is such that what is stated is assumed to be true. The Colossian Christians had, in fact, been raised with Christ because they also had died with Christ—verse 20. Paul has been emphasizing the Christian’s union with Jesus Christ, the Christians connectivity to Christ.

The Colossian Christians had died with Christ and therefore they had also been raised with Christ. “Since then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Look up and remember all the blessings that are yours in Christ, the spiritual privileges of eternal life, eternal joy, an eternal inheritance. So the idea is to fix one’s gaze upward. Seek those things which are above. Look up!

We have a dog who seeks those things which are above. When I get him a treat out of the cupboard you’ve never seen an animal so fixed upon those things which are above! His focus is unbroken. He will not take his eyes off of the prize until he has utterly consumed it. This is the idea. Paul is like, “Look upward.” Fix your eyes upon those things which are above. Keep your focus steadily upon your reward.

Why does Paul say this here? Why does he seem suddenly to say, “Seek those things which are above?” Well, the context shows us that Paul is teaching us how to live a life that honors God. Most of us are here this morning because we want to live a life that is pleasing to God. We want to avoid sin and to walk in holiness.

Paul teaches here that we cannot walk in holiness by sheer determination. The false teachers offered only legalism and moralism. They gave these rules there at the end of chapter 2, verse 21, “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle.” And Paul concludes chapter 2 by saying in verse 23, “These (religious rules) indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body,”—and this is key here; last part of verse 23—“but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”

Religious rules of “Dos and Don’ts” have no power over the flesh, over our sinful tendencies. In other words, legalism and moralistic rules are powerless to keep one from sin. Religious rules have no power to change a person’s heart. Sheer force of discipline is not enough to live the life that pleases God. Godly living requires a new life in Christ. Godly living requires that a person be buried with Christ and raised with Christ.

Have you ever tried to conquer sin by dint of sheer determination? You don’t get very far. And this fact applies not just to our trying to conquer sin before becoming a Christian, but it also applies to our trying to conquer sin the same way after becoming a Christian.

A lot of Christians are going around trying to conquer sin by sheer force of determination and discipline. “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle.” Discipline alone does not make one holy.

What we must do is remember that Christ is in us and we are in Him—and it is so important to do this regularly, to keep on seeking the things above, and when you do—you are able to live the life God has called you to live.

So the key motivator to living out this new life in Christ, the key to walking in holiness and growing in holiness is to “Seek those things which are above.”

And it is not just a looking for, but a longing for. This idea of longing is conveyed in verse 2 where Paul puts the action another way. He says, number two:

II. Set Your Mind on Things Above [2-4]

Look again at verse 2:

2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

The Christian’s setting his mind on things above connotes the idea of setting one’s affections and longings upon the things of Christ, a “being totally wrapped up in” the things of the Lord.

John MacArthur, “As a compass points north, [so] the believer’s entire disposition should point itself toward the things of heaven.”

This pointing upward requires continual action. The imperative, “Set your mind on things above,” is a verbal phrase in the present tense and active voice. It’s even better translated as, “Keep on thinking about.”

It’s so easy for “the things of earth” to steal our gaze. It’s so easy for the temporal things that will not last to rob us of the joy of being in Christ.

When you suffer, it’s hard to see beyond your suffering. When you are suddenly diagnosed with a health condition it’s easy to lose focus. When your family goes through a trial of some kind our spiritual compass may suddenly point south as we set our mind not “on things above,” but “on things on the earth,” right?

So Paul gives us this imperative to help our spiritual focus. It’s much as he writes to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 4 where he encourages the Christians to not lose heart. Of their suffering, Paul he writes:

17 …our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

So set your mind on things above, keep on thinking about things above.

3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

See the connection between verses 2 and 3? Verse 2, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth,” because—verse 3—“for you died,” you died to this life.

So if you died to this life, then the things of this life are no longer as appealing as they once were. You died to your old life, so the things you once valued no longer carry the same weight or value.

The Gospel changes the way we view temporal things. The Gospel changes the way we value our time. Or at least it should. Does the way you choose to spend your time each day matter? The answer is that it does if you think about eternity and live for eternity.

What will hours of sitting in front of a screen matter for eternity? Endless hours of game playing, movie watching, internet surfing, matters very little in the context of eternity. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

The Gospel changes the way we view our jobs, or our careers. Do you regard your job or career not as an ends to the means of obtaining money or significance, but as a means to sharing the Gospel? Do you consider your job—whatever it is, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker—no matter your job do you consider your job as primary a platform upon which you can talk about Jesus? Are you “salt and light” in the workplace. Set your mind on things above, not on things not the earth.

The Gospel changes the way we view our money. Do you hoard your money, saving it up for earthly, temporal, fleeting self-centered pleasures. Or do you freely give away your money to eternal Gospel causes? I mean, it really is something to think about, isn’t it?! The only investments that last forever are those invested in the kingdom.

You died to this life so the things of this life are no longer as appealing as they once were.

You died to the old pleasures so you are no more attracted to the old pleasures as a dead person is attracted to them. Is that true? I suspect many of us would say, “I’m still attracted to the old things.” Well, you are if you allow yourself to be.

But you actually died to the old pleasures, so they have no hold on you—unless!—unless you allow yourself to get around the old things again, in which case you will find that they still appeal to the old you. That’s why you’ve got to continually die to them by continually setting your mind on things above. It’s a looking for and a longing for the things above. Keep on thinking about the things of heaven as a motivator to personal holiness.

We’ll be studying more about this in the coming weeks, but I’m telling you that this is the key to Christian living. This is the answer to so many of our questions. We want to know how to live the Christian life in a way that brings glory to God and satisfies our deepest longings and Paul says it all begins right here, right here in our seeking those things which are above and our setting our minds on things above, and not on things on the earth.

If we will do this, seek those things which are above, and, set our mind on things above, then we will find three causes for rejoicing. First, we may rejoice in our security in Christ.

A) Rejoice in your Security in Christ (3)

Paul says in verse 3, “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Here again is a reference to the Christian’s union with Christ. If we have turned in repentance from our sin, we have broken with the world, and have turned by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then our lives are “hidden with Christ in God.”

It’s a great statement that emphasizes the Christian’s eternal security based solely on God’s justifying the Christian, declaring the Christian “not guilty” of all sin.

It’s much as Paul teaches in Romans 6 or in Galatians 2:20 where Paul writes: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

The security of our soul’s salvation is not based upon our performance, but based solely upon Christ’s performance on our behalf. We find acceptance before God the Father, not based upon our righteousness, but based upon the righteousness of Christ. Our lives are “hidden with Christ in God.”

Rejoice in your security in Christ. Secondly:

B) Rejoice in Your Identity in Christ (4a)

Verse 4:

4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Note again the first part of verse 4: “When Christ who is our life appears,” Christ who is our life, literally: “Christ, our life.”

To be a Christian means that “Christ is our life.” There is no other way, really, to define Christianity in practical terms. He is our life and we find our identity in Him—or at least we should! Our identity is bound up in Christ.

Who is Adele? Some of you would say one of the most popular singers today. Who is Christiano Ronaldo? You might say he is the most gifted soccer player in the world. Who is Mohammed Ali? Well, you might say Ali is the greatest boxer of all time. But if you identified Adele as a singer, Ronaldo as a soccer player, and Ali as a boxer, you would be totally wrong. You would be wrong because you would be telling me not who they are, but what they do.

Don’t define yourself by what you do. Don’t locate your identity in your job or in your performance—your success, or your failures. Remember who you are in Christ. You are “hidden with Christ in God” and “Christ is your life!”

So many of you can really be liberated today by remembering to locate your identity not in what you do or what you have done, but in Christ Jesus, in your union with Him! You are a Christian, you are in Christ. Locate your sense of purpose and meaning and significance in Him!!

Don’t let Satan tell you that you are a failure, or an embarrassment, or a nobody. You are in Christ.

And, equally important, don’t let Satan tempt you to find your identity in your successes, in your job, in your education, in your smarts. Locate your sense of purpose in Christ. Christ, our life.

Rejoice in your security in Christ, rejoice in your identity in Christ, and thirdly:

C) Rejoice in Your Eternity in Christ (4b)

Verse 4 again:

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

“When Christ appears” is a reference to His second coming. He came the first time as a babe born in a manger. He took on flesh to live for us and to die for us. He came once and He is coming again. One day He will appear suddenly in the skies. He is coming again. He may well come today. No one knows the day or hour of His coming. But He IS coming.

When Christ who is our life appears, Paul says, “then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

When Christ returns, Christians will be caught up in the air to meet Him and welcome Him to His rightful place upon the throne, ruling over all creation.

And we will share in His reign forever and ever.

The New Living Translation puts verse 4 this way: “When Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”

Paul’s aim is to encourage Christians. Don’t live for temporary things and don’t be distracted by earthly notions of success or failure. Live with a view towards eternity. Look up! Look up! He is coming and when He appears, you will appear with Him.

Like a movie marquis: “Now appearing—Jesus Christ! And also appearing with Him—Todd Linn, John Smith, Jane Doe, and every other Christian, every other person whose life is “hidden with Christ in God.”

• Stand for prayer.

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