Rooted in Christ Week 6
"Living Above"

Pastor Terry Inman

05-15-16

 

I’m sure you have heard the expression, “They are so heavenly minded but no earthy good”. Some people sound religious but they may not be all that Christ-like. Their head is in the clouds but their heart really isn’t.    

 

Paul exposed the flawed philosophies and religious ideologies confronting the believers in Colossae and the region. He also distinctly presented the Lord Jesus Christ in all “fullness” as the supreme and all sufficient God.

 

Now Paul shifts to a practical application. How do we live out our deeply rooted experience “in Christ”? We live in two worlds. According to Paul we are “hidden in Christ”. (Col.3.3 NIV) We also exist in this real time world.

 

Prior to his death, Jesus prayed for his disciples.

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
John17.15-16 NIV

 

We are in the world but not of the world. As followers of Jesus our heart is in heaven and our feet are on the ground. So how do we work this out?

 

Today’s passage is about “Living Above” or “beyond” this world. How do we function in this material existence while growing in our spiritual life? Let’s find some answers in (Col. 3.1-14 NIV)

 

First “Living Above” is a spiritual, emotional and mental mind-set!
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
(Col. 3.1-2 NIV)

 

Many of the believers of Colossae were coming out of pagan influences and immoral lifestyles much like the moral decline in our own culture.

 

Paul says we have an “other” world-view that impacts our values. We are “raised with Christ” who is seated at the “right hand of God”. Things are looking up because we are looking down—from Heaven to earth!

For instance I am concerned enough to pray but not totally overwhelmed by the landslide of moral and political degeneracy in America. We view life from an eternal not just a temporal perspective. The last time I checked God is still in charge of the universe. Paul says we have a seat with Christ.

 

On a personal level, this releases into our lives the power to check the appetites and attitudes of our human nature. We can’t fight the flesh with the flesh. We need resurrection power! So how do we access this power?

 

First we set our “hearts” (affections) on things “above” where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. We also set our “minds” (attention) on things “above” not on earthly things.

 

Not all earthly things are bad. We have to work, eat and sleep. Sports are good. I’m sure Jesus is a Warriors fan! But we can get so preoccupied with secular life that we fail to give priority to spiritual life. Our values and lifestyles are lowered by the gravitational pull of our dark Godless culture.

 

Living Above is all about the focus of our affection and attention. To consume our selves with “earthy” things is trivial for those of us who have been raised with Christ. We exist for a higher and nobler purpose.

 

“Set your hearts” is “keep on seeking”—a continuous action the Greek. Our “heart” our intellect, emotions, and volition (will) must be continually centered on Christ. Jesus prayed, “thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. He was consciously seeking heaven on earth.

 

Does heaven have our heart and mind or are we consumed with this life? Now Paul’s not talking about dreaming of cherubs sitting on puffy white clouds or even singing about our mansion over a hilltop. (no offense)

 

To “set our heart” or seek Christ is to “live above” in His power and His purpose. We must not only seek heaven we must also think heaven!

What to we think about? “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Prov. 23:7 (NKJV)

We are what we think about. The bible says,

“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
(Phil. 4.8 NIV)

 

Relocate our heart (affection) and our mind (attention) above and we won’t be dominated and manipulated by what’s going on here below!

 

Our identity in Christ is now invisible but it will become obvious.
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

(Col. 3. 3-4 NIV) Now we are raised but when he returns we will reign!

 

Most people only see what meets the eye right now. But our lives really matter in an invisible realm. Many believers feel insignificant because our values are being challenged. But in God’s time the people of His kingdom are coming out! Our uniqueness “in Christ” will become totally visible!

 

Our life may not seem all that glamorous right now but it will be glorious! We are destined to make a global appearance with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in all His magnificence and brilliance!

 

So don’t let this life drag you down. Live Above it. Paul says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”
(Col. 3.5-6 NIV)

 

Salvation is not self-improvement. It is death to self and new life in Christ.

Paul says we died and we are now hidden (embedded or rooted) in Christ—we are seated with him at the right hand of power. So let these rotting roots die! Don’t water them or feed them! Let them die!

 

Paul lists five behaviors common to our “earthly” nature.

 

1.) “Sexual immorality”(porneia) is a general word for sexual promiscuity. We get our word pornography from it—even though porn is just one expression of sexual sin. It is a term for all kinds sexual immorality.

2.) “Impurity” is unclean behavior. It’s where the word “dirty” comes from. It is moral pollution of the heart, the mind and the body.

3.) “Lust” is a word for unrestrained or uncontrolled passions.

4.) “Evil desires” is wicked or perverted cravings.  

5.) “Greed” is inordinate desire for more. It is a disregard for others in pursuit of self-gratification. This last one Paul says is idolatry.

 

Sexual immorality is often connected with idolatry in the bible. “What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God—anything you seek to give you what only God can give.

 

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
(1 Cor. 19-20)

 

When we engage any form of sexual gratification outside of God’s provision for martial intimacy we are making a god out of our needs. Anything we give that much power too will eventfully dominate us.

 

This maybe part of our past but it doesn’t need to determine our future. Paul says, “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.” Then he talks about discarding old attitudes. “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Col. 3. 7-8 NIV)

 

Sexual sin is so easily singled out because of how external it is, but here is another list of five bad attitudes. He says we must get rid of this stuff. In the ancient Greek the text is a little more dramatic literally “strip this off”!  

 

(1.) Anger: this is unresolved of irritation or hostility.

(2.) Rage: this is an uncontrolled outburst of temper.

(3.) Malice: this is the intention to bring injury or harm.  

(4.) Slander: this is insult or the defamation of character.

(5.) Filthy language: this is foul-mouthed abuse.

 

Sexual Immorality and unhealthy anger are part of life below but we have died, been raised, and are preparing to reign with Christ. So Live Above it!  

 

Paul adds, Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
(Col. 3. 9-10 NIV)

 

Falsehood connected with anger here because that’s what happens when we are not aware of our feelings. Anger distorts reality. We ether internalize anger with a slow burn or we explode with a hot temper.

 

 Paul talks about anger management. “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
(Eph. 4.25-27 NIV)

 

Satan gets a grip on us when we fail to deal with anger in healthy ways. So Paul says we shed the old life of hostility and dishonesty like dirty old clothes and put on something totally new fashioned by our creator.

 

“In Christ” we treat each other with mutual love and respect. Paul says, Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
(Col. 3.11)

In Christ all differences merge, all distinctions are removed. Loyalty to Christ takes precedence over all earthly preferences and prejudices.

 

Paul wraps this discussion on “Living Above” with some features of our new “outfit” in Christ. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col. 3.12 -13 NIV)

 

Christ picked us! We are chosen. He perfected us. We are holy. He values us. We are loved. So we can “strip off” the activities and attitudes of this life below and “dress up” in the new clothes he provides from above.

 

1)   Compassion: concern and care expressed toward the suffering.

2)   Kindness: thoughtfulness and helpfulness toward each other.

3)   Humility: to be secure, self-effacing and unpretentious.

4)   Gentleness: strong but calm and considerate of others.

5)   Patience: self-restraint that enables one to bear injury and insult.

6)   Forbearance: putting up with things we dislike in others.

7)   Forgiveness: releasing others from our grievances.

 

Paul concludes this chapter with this. “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
(Col.3.14 NIV)

 

These seven virtues or qualities are manifestation of love. God is love therefore this is how to act like God! This is “Living Above”!

 

I have prepared a checklist to help you internalize this message. It’s kind of like a character reference you might find on a job application.

I would like for you to ask the Holy Spirit to fill it out for you so you know what to strip off and what to put on.