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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: April 10, 2020
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Hello and welcome back to our rightly divided verse-by-verse study of Colossians.
Here is a brief outline of chapter 3.
3:1-4 - Paul begins by instructing the Colossians to pursue those things related to heaven rather than earthly things.
3:5-17 – Old vices are to be discarded and replaced by corresponding virtues.
3:18-4:1 – Instructions given governing domestic relations in the following order; wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters, and closes with the evangelistic practices of persistent prayer and wise living.
Please open your Bible at Colossians 3:1-4.
Risen With the Lord Jesus Christ
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
If ye then be risen with Christ - the first thing we need to understand is the word “If” followed by “then” ordinarily introduces a conditional statement, but that’s not what Paul means to say here. Verse 3:1a ought to be read as, “Since (in view of the fact) ye then be risen with Christ…” You see Paul’s stating a reality; the Believer has already been “risen with Christ,” so it’s an assumed fact. The next thing that ought to capture the Bible student’s attention is every Believer has been co-raised from spiritual death “with Christ” (2:12). Of course we should not overlook the physical aspect of this revelation which is “we were dead in trespasses and sins,” (Ephesians 2:1), and “death worketh in us,” physically speaking, (2 Corinthians 4:12).
But, thank God, every true Believer has been co-raised to “walk in newness of life” “with Christ.” This isn’t worldly-wisdom it is the revelation of God. Think this through. Was Christ’s death real? I pray you said yes. The biblical accounts of His mock trial, His mistreatment, i.e., crowned with thorns, beaten and scourged, spit upon, and made to carry His cross until He collapsed under the weight of it, and then suffered the shame and the agony of the Cross where He bore the sins of the world are all real.
Here’s the next question, “Was it His death to die?” Before you answer consider these biblical truths:
The LORD God said to the man, “…in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (spiritually)” (Genesis 2:17).
“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23);
“Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15);
Now, was Jesus Christ a sinner and therefore worthy of death? The short answer is, “No.” For the Scriptures also say:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12, 13-21);
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:46);
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ was no sinner; He is the perfect Lamb of God (John 15:25, 19:4-6; Romans 1:4, 8:3; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Colossians 1:22). Since “He hath no death to die,” it was not His death He was dying it was yours and mine. When Christ took on human form, He was baptized into the human race; He became not only one with us (Immanuel), in truth, He became one of us. He was “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12; Mark 15:28). But Christ took this a step in saying, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened (what a fix I’m in) till it be accomplished” (Luke 12:50).
The Lord Jesus Christ is referring to His baptism into our death. This is where He became completely one with us sinners, when He died our death. Now, that in and of itself doesn’t save you, as some folks declare. By an act of His own will, He submitted to death, “even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8), and died the death that was ours. So the lost sinner, by an act of their own will, by an act of faith in Paul’s gospel, must accept the fact that it was not His death to die it was yours and mine and thank God we were there, in Christ, as Paul said in Romans 6:3:
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3)
Until this truth is recognized by an act of faith, the sinner’s position (standing) remains outside of Christ. However, the Believer, in Christ Jesus can truthfully say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).
If our co-death in Christ Jesus is real (and it is), so is our co-burial, co-resurrection, and co-ascension in Christ for God sees the true Believer in Christ. Now I don’t believe it needs to be said that physically the Believer remains here on the earth and the Lord Jesus Christ is with the Father in heaven (Psalm 110:1), but spiritually, we are joined to Him and share the same position; we are seated with Him in the heavenlies, for He is the Head and we are the body organically joined together by the will of God:
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us (made alive) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved); And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:4-6).
This is true even for the fleshly Believer. Note Paul’s remarks to the carnal Believers in Corinth for instance: “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:4-9).
Of course, carnality is not something Believers ought to strive after for Paul said, “…brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh,” (Galatians 5:13) and “he that is dead is freed from sin:”
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:4-7).
Our apostle Paul is saying, among other things, the Believer in Christ is a sojourner (alien) here on earth for our true citizenship as adopted sons and daughters of God is in heaven:
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind (what) earthly things.) For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:17-21).
This brings us back full circle to Paul’s opening statements in Colossians 3:1-3:
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on thing above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
The Believers in Colosse had heard the truth of God’s Word concerning their co-crucifixion, co-burial, and co-resurrection with Christ Jesus, but here’s the thing, their lives didn’t reflect it. According to this scripture passage, they were more interested in those “things on the earth” rather than “those things which are above.” The same could be said today, so this begs the question, “Why do Christians gravitate towards “things on the earth?” Why are they more interested in earthly things which are decaying and one day future will “pass away” (Revelation 6:14, 20:11, 21:1), rather than their spiritual blessings in Christ that are eternally theirs?”
It should be understood unbelievers by nature chase after earthly things and hold them in high regard, and Satan has them right where he wants them (2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 5:19-21). But this should not be true for the saved individual positioned in Christ. It’s worth mentioning before I was introduced to the apostle Paul and his writings along with the proper usage of right division by a friend I didn’t think about these things. No one at any time mentioned them either from the pulpit or in a one-on-one discussion. It’s quite likely the same is true for y’all, so, let me to ask you now, “Why are Christians prone to seek those “things on the earth,” instead of “those things which are above?” While you’re contemplating that, I’ll share two probable answers based on my experiences.
1) Those who take the time to read their Bible read through these passages but they do not take them to heart, thus they remain mere words on paper. The bottom line is they don’t believe what they’re reading, so they don’t respond to Paul’s teachings on the subject.
2) I’ve already brought this one to your attention. People can’t respond to something they have not heard; that they have no knowledge of (Romans 10:17).
And that’s the thing the Colossians had heard these truths, so Paul wants these saints to take this doctrine to heart, make it their own, and live their lives accordingly. “If (since) ye then be risen with Christ,” if you truly believe you died in Christ and have been co-buried, and co-raised from the dead with Him, then “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
So, this is the situation in Colosse, these relatively new saints in Christ didn’t believe the spiritual blessings of heaven are more desirable than the physical accompaniments of the world. To overcome this shortfall these Believers need to accept and understand God’s plan and purpose for the Body of Christ, that is, what it is He has for us, what He has made of us, and all that we have in Him (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:9-14).
“If (since) ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (3:1).
In Acts chapter 1 the apostle Luke provides the account of Jesus Christ’s ascension and Paul mentions it indirectly in 3:1b, “…where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” By the by, this is not a made-up story meant for the Jewish children sitting around the campfire at night this actually happened. This is a reality. Forty days after Christ Jesus’ resurrection He gathered with His disciples on the Mt of Olives and physically ascended to the Father and this is where He presently is, “until…” (Acts 1:1-11).
In Psalm 110:1 we find God the Father saying to His Son, “The The word “until” is associated with time-future. It’s saying at some point in future time Christ will return to this earth not to set up His earthly kingdom, as many are teaching today, but to make war against His enemies (See Daniel 9; Revelation 6:2, 19:11-16). said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
The nation of Israel failed to understand the meaning and the significance of this scripture passage, however, on this side of the Cross of Christ the significance becomes quite clear. Jesus Christ had enemies on earth. Plainly said, His own people didn’t want Him (John 1:10-11). The Jews obeyed their religious leaders and in unison chose to set free a notable criminal named Barabbas rather than Jesus; and they are on record saying, “Away with this man… we have no king but Caesar,” (Luke 23:18 John 19:15); and “Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:15-22). This wasn’t news to God (Psalm 2:1-3; Acts 2:22-23), but we find the psalmist making the following statement long before it was realized “Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
In the O.T. the right hand is known as the strong-hand (Psalm 89:13), and the place of favor, honor, and privilege (See Matthew 20:20-28). As this pertains to God’s Son, it’s also the “highly exalted” position:
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).
Now let’s look at John 3:35-36:
“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
The denominational churches I attended in the past quoted verse 3:36 often, but not verse 35. Read again what it’s saying, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” In case you missed it, this verse implies God loves and honors His Son, which in turn means He cares what you do with His Son (John 1:1-5, 14:6). I mention this biblical truth because it falls in line with what Paul’s teaching. The Colossians, as Believers, have been given a position at the right hand of God, in Christ. Since this is true, the question on the table is do they truly believe it? Did they make it their own? If that was the case, then they’d be found, “Setting their affections on things above where Christ and the Father are and not on things on the earth.” Evidently, this was not the case, otherwise Paul wouldn’t be instructing (commanding) them to do so. Each Believer has to make a decision and then act. That’s what “Set your affection” implies. It must be by an act of your will, i.e., an act of genuine steadfast faith.
Now, in verses 2-3, Paul shows the saints in Colosse there is no question they had been co-crucified and co-raised with Christ. For he goes on to say in verse 3:
“For ye have died and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (3:3)
Without a doubt, most Christians today have no idea this verse is in their Bible. But it’s saying God the Father sees every true Believer in Christ as already in heaven. Let’s don’t go by what I’m saying let’s look at what the Bible says about this:
“ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7).
Most sincere Christians, poorly taught in God’s Word, rightly divided, express their concern about going to heaven. I can’t number all the times this concern came up over the years after asking people in my classes, “Are you going to heaven?” Instead of saying, “Yes, I am,” they said, “I hope so.” If you’re wondering whether or not you’re citizenship is in heaven, please know if you’ve believed God’s gospel of grace, as preached and taught by the apostle Paul, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Ephesians 3:1-3), please know God sees you in heaven already. Now you can’t feel, see, or touch heaven, but that’s beside the point. The Scriptures say you have been made “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). God has positioned you in Christ, that’s that.
Once again, the majority of churched-people know little to nothing about this biblical fact. But, again, God said as far as He is concerned, the true Believer is already in heaven, and that’s all that truly matters. If God said it, then we’re to believe it over and out! As Christ took our place on Calvary’s cross, God now sees us in Christ, at His own right hand, the place of favor and honor. This is why our apostle Paul wrote the following to the Colossians and to every Believer in Christ,
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (3:1-3).
Nothing man does can accomplish all this. It is by God’s free gift of grace:
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
Put on, Put off
Paul said, “Christ who is our life,” that is, the Lord Jesus Christ is our source of eternal life and confirms this new change in Colossians 3:1-4. The Colossians, therefore, have a new relationship with Christ and a new standing before God. What’s more, they have already been co-resurrected with Christ, and one day future when Christ returns for His Church at the rapture they “will also appear with him in glory” to put-on their resurrected body’s, that will be fashioned after Christ’s glorious body.
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:21).
Think this through, is it possible to live underwater without first putting on the appropriate diving equipment? That would be no. In like manner the Believer’s body is not presently designed to dwell in the heavenlies, so it must undergo change. Paul mentioned this in the scripture passage above. Every Believer will get a new body. Now the Bible doesn’t give us the specific details, but it does say our body’s will be fashioned after Christ’s glorious body:
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
The promise of the return of Christ Jesus in the clouds for His Church is not only that we’ll see His glory, but that we “also will appear with Him in glory.” This is the revealing of the sons of God Paul wrote about in Romans 8:19:
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”
In verse 3:4 Paul continues to highlight Christ Jesus as the source of true life for all those that believe. When Paul wrote, “Christ is our life,” he included himself along with the Colossians. He’s saying they are as much alive in the Lord Jesus Christ as he is for Christ is not only the giver and sustainer of life (1:16), He is our life!
In a casual conversation you may have heard someone say, “sports are my life,” or “my work is my life,” etc. I for one have, but in all my years I’ve never heard a Christian declare Christ Jesus is my life and reflect that statement in how they live. And that’s the thing. The Colossians understood they had been saved and quite possibly were glad of it, but their lives (walk with the risen Lord) did not reflect it. The same can be said of most Christians today. By that I mean you might find them giving God a couple of hours on a given Sunday, but after that they take off their Sunday-best and put-on their worldly attire, mentally and physically. When Monday comes they head straight back into the world and all that this means. They go off to work and at the end of the day they bring their work home. Instead of spending quality time with their spouse and children, they are off by themselves working in their home-office. They then go to bed and this routine continues the next day, and the next... Plainly said, this individual is all wrapped up in “the things of this earth.” If this gentleman can’t fellowship with his wife and children, he certainly can’t fellowship “with God in Christ.” Therefore, he needs to admit this is what’s taking place in his life. He needs to realize he’s not getting much out of life. He’s merely a workaholic closing one business deal after another with no end in sight. Life’s dictating to him instead of him experiencing his life “with Christ in God” and all that this means. Change becomes possible when the individual understands and puts into play Paul’s command in 3:2, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” When they take this knowledge to heart, make it their own, then they’ll begin to give more time to like-minded fellowship, prayer, the study of God’s Word, rightly divided, and the things of God. This is when change becomes a reality. That’s what “Set your affection on things above…” means. Do more than know this verse is in your Bible, take it to heart; show a greater interest in “the deep things of God:”
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).
Paul wants the true Believer to know and understand everything about God is deep there are no shallows. Mere worldly-wisdom can never understand spiritual teaching; there must be a revelation made by God, and the work of the Holy Spirit is to make clear to the Believer what they never could learn, either through the eye, through the ear, or by their imagination. God has revealed these glorious truths to us because there is no other way in which we could acquire a knowledge of them but by revelation.
The Colossians looked beyond the revelation of God to worldly-wisdom. They were preoccupied with “things on the earth,” such as heretical philosophies (2:8); legalistic practices (2:16, 21-23); and fleshly vices (3:5). Please know Paul isn’t saying interest in their families, their homes, their jobs, and their livelihood in general are not worthy of their attention and concern; they are not doing anything wrong by attending to these matters. However, any one of them can become wrong should they be deemed more important than the things of God, which includes “Christ who is our life!
(To be continued)
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