Summary: Exposition of Col. 3:1–4
Developing a Heavenly Mindset
“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. 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. 3:1–4).
How can we develop a heavenly mindset?
Some have said it is possible to be “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” However, when you look at the history of the church, it has been those who have been the most heavenly minded that have done the most good. Listen to what Christ said: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matt. 11:12).
The people who have advanced the kingdom of heaven have been those who have grabbed hold of it. Though on the earth, they had a heavenly mindset. Having a heavenly mindset is very important for advancing the kingdom, not only in our lives but on this earth as well.
It is for this reason that Satan is always attacking the believer’s mind with doubts, fears, worldly thoughts, etc. Satan wants to keep believers from focusing on what really matters, and that is God and his kingdom.
This is what Paul is primarily referring to when he says to the Colossians, “set your hearts on things above.” He is primarily referring to God and his kingdom. In the Lord’s Prayer, we are taught to be consumed with God’s name being hallowed, and his kingdom and his will being done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9–10). The believer’s mind should be consumed with heavenly things.
In Scripture, there are tremendous blessings given to those who practice right thinking. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” It also can be translated, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you” (ESV).
The person whose thoughts are consumed with God and his kingdom will have perfect peace instead of anxiety and worry. When we find ourselves anxious or worried, we can be sure that we have lost a God–centered mindset.
What are some other benefits of God–centered thinking? Listen to Philippians 4:8–9:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Paul says thinking on right things and also practicing them brings the God of peace—the very presence of God in our lives (v. 9). Many are missing the manifest presence of God in their lives because they have ungodly thinking, which eventually leads to ungodly practice.
In fact, Paul says that the way a person thinks is an indicator both of his salvation and his fruitfulness. Listen to what he says:
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace (Rom. 8:5–6).
The secular person thinks only about the “desires” of his carnal nature. The carnal person may be spiritual, but he only wants things of the spirit that satisfy or glorify him:
• “God, give me an ‘A’ on this test.”
• “God, get me into grad school.”
• “God, give me this promotion.”
• “God, take away this sickness.”
A carnal person may believe in God and pray for things, but God is only a means to his “desires.” James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
However, a truly born-again person desires what the Spirit of God desires. He ultimately wants God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This doesn’t mean that we don’t pray for our desires; it means we are not consumed with our desires. The desires of the redeemed should be and must become that of the Spirit of God.
Paul says the one who continually thinks on the desires of their sinful nature will bring the fruits of death and destruction, but the one consumed with the things of the Spirit brings the fruits of life and peace (Rom. 8:6).
The mind is very important. What does your mind say about you? It will tell you who you are—a believer or an unbeliever—a person led by the sinful nature or a person led by the Spirit. It will also tell you what type of fruits you will produce. A person that thinks on the things of God receives life and peace.