About Setting Your Mind
Text: Colossians 3: 1-17
Proposition: If we don’t set our mind upon Christ our sin will set it upon us.
Introduction: Have you ever gotten into your car and started driving down the street but noticed that your car was really sluggish so much so that that you had to really push the gas pedal down to get any speed? Maybe you took it out on the highway and started going full speed and then you noticed this peculiar smell, like something was burning. That’s when you suddenly realized you’d left the emergency brake on. What occurred to me is that power can be restricted, compromised or even lost completely causing all kinds of damage. What if our lives are like that, God designing us to be powered by His glorious power but we left the ‘emergency brake’ on. So then it occurred to me, why do we need that much power, what does God see that we don’t, because obviously we drive with our ‘emergency brake’ on a lot. So I searched the Bible for the word ‘power’ and 237 times it’s referenced, here’s some:
Job 36:22 “Behold, God is exalted by His power; Who teaches like Him?”
Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
1 Cor. 2:5 “that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
2 Cor. 12:9 “And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Colossians 1:11 “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy…”.
So God’s power ultimately has that purpose of building our ability to consistently live by faith, to love well, to be longsuffering and to have joy, His joy in this life as we live for the eternity of heaven to come. Paul taught the church how to have power, how to be strengthened, to move with greater faith in the person and plan of God by setting their mind. Have a look at what that means in Colossians 3:1-17.
I. You Aren’t Who You Were…
The very first words point us to the truth that something has essentially changed when you became a Christian, “If then you were raised with Christ…”. That word raised is ‘synegeirō’, it’s the root word for the English ‘synergy’. When synergy happens in our lives it’s when two things come together and something new is created. The something new here is your spirit is made alive in Christ, you are now made alive because Christ has placed His Holy Spirit in you. The Spirit can reside in you because you have been reconciled with God by faith in Christ. When you cried out to Him to forgive you, to rescue you, your sins which formerly were charged against you were considered paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. By faith you have accepted that offering of peace with God. So now the Spirit of God can reside in you, you have been raised from being spiritually dead in sin to being alive in Christ. That being the case you are no longer who you were, something has changed within. There is now an interest, an ability, even a new identity that has a faith to seek for something you never did before. It’s the desire to seek for the things above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. What do you imagine that to be like, that place where Christ is? One things for sure, it’s not like here. It’s not subject to the fickle whims of sin, there’s no fashion where Christ is, there’s no money where Christ is, there are no murders where Christ is… there are only people completely washed over by His grace. Their futile sins are gone, they are known and there is no hiding from the eyes of Christ, He sees us as sin free in Him because of the way the power of God responded to our faith in Christ as Savior. “If then you were raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above where Christ is…”. That’s an imperative command from God, do it. Why? Look at verse 3, “For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” That’s pretty blunt isn’t it? “For you died…”, that would seem to be saying that you are no longer who you were. What’s the “you” part that has died do you think? I can only think that it refers to your previous rights as a citizen of a sinful world. All those citizens were under a death sentence because of sin, they would all one day die, and then they would all after that, experience accountability before God and then die what is called a second death in the eternality of hell. But when you believed in Jesus Christ that all changed, you died, that part of you that was eager to sin, that part of you that was easily deceived by Satan, that died. Your life is now hidden in Christ with God. That certainly sounds like you aren’t who you were. Now you can see the way sin has a corrosive effect on peoples souls, even on your soul when you choose to sin. It eats at the will, it distorts the emotions, it deceives the intellect. Sin is like acid poured on the soul and now for the first time as a Christian you can see that, just as God sees that, just as Christ sees that. Again the simple truth is that since I have become a Christian I am no longer who I was. That thought is sealed with a word of lasting hope, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” It refers to the Second Coming of Jesus, to when Jesus comes for the rest of His church that is still on earth. Those believers who have died are with Him at the very moment of death but the rest of us are still here. When He appears refers to Him being visibly manifested or seen. Then those who have died before us in Christ will also be manifested, their bodies will experience resurrection, their spirit and souls will be reunited with their glorified body and they will appear with Him in glory. You aren’t who you were since you became a Christian and there’s so much more to come. That is what the power of God aims to do in you because of Christ and your faith in Him.
II. Since You Aren’t Who You Were…Don’t Do What You Did.
Inferred in these next verses is the truth that we now have an ability to do what is being asked of us. So there is this implied ‘you’. Look at verse 5, “Therefore “you” put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” These lusts of the flesh are the common subjects of the world: illicit sexuality in whatever form; prodigal son high rolling lifestyles; depraved passions; desiring or craving what is wrong and covetousness or greedy desires. These things, especially covetousness, amount to what God calls idolatry. That means they have the tendency to make you trust in them, to depend on them the way that you were meant to depend on God. The point is you now have an ability to see these things in your own life and you can now choose to eliminate them out of your life. It literally says you are to shut down the carnal part of you that would seek to do these things. In fact it is these very things that hinder the power of God in working through you, it’s like driving with the emergency brake on. When we do that we in a sense treat all of life like an emergency, we try to keep safe by resisting God and you can smell the smoke. The message here is straight forward, since you aren’t who you were don’t do what you did. What was it you used to do? Well there were the sins of the flesh already mentioned but then there are also the issues of how we treat others, even in a church. “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another…”. These are the things that mark the lives of people who either don’t know Christ or won’t trust Him. It may sound like a derogatory remark but that’s the reality, people who are spiritually dead don’t see anything wrong with blasphemy, filthy language, lying, malice or even an attitude of anger because they believe they have the right to do so. They are a law unto themselves. Each man does what is right in his own eyes. Paul’s point is that this is no longer true for you. We are not a law unto ourselves, not if you serve the Lord God Almighty and His kingdom. So put these things off, don’t do what you did.
From the negative to the positive, Paul now encourages us to put on the new man, that person which the power of God seeks to work through. It happens as we grow in our understanding of Who God is and of who we are. We are renewed in by the knowledge that is in the Bible, we come to see that we are made in the image of God and that image ought to look a lot like Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are saved, by Him empowered, through Him related, because of Him, standing righteous. He is our all in all and by His amazing grace we are no longer who we were nor do we do what we did.
It’s about setting your mind on things above, that’s who you now are.