Summary: When Christ appears, glory hoped for will be glory realized.
“If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
You’ve heard me, and probably other preachers, many times, saying that since the writers of the Bible did not give their works the chapter and verse divisions that we use as a guide for reference and study, it behooves us to pay close attention to the context of the passage we’re reading.
Especially when it comes to the chapter division. We want to study or read Colossians 3, so we begin with verse 1 and go on. But we cannot get the full sense of what the Apostle is saying, if we start with the words, “If then…” and do not take time to ask what the ‘then’ is referring to.
Well, I want you to get that fuller sense. I want us to go for the clearer understanding of these verses of our text today, so in order to do that we have to take, at the very least, a brief look back at chapter 2. The ideal, of course, would be to begin at chapter one verse one, and we may do that some year; but today we’ll get by with a quick overview of the second chapter, then look for some nuggets in chapter 3 verses 1 through 4.
OVERVIEW OF TWO
Actually, we’ll begin at verse 6 of chapter 2. Because Paul is really stating the same admonition to them in verses 6 and 7, as he is in our text. Just worded differently. Then in verse 8 he begins a discourse on the need to understand sound doctrine, so they are not caught up again in the legalism of the law and religious formality.
He tells them that since Christ is all the fulness of Deity in bodily form, it should be Him to whom they look for answers, and who they study and maintain diligence in serving, rather than the traditions of men and philosophies of the world that deceive and take captive.
Though it’s not our main text today, let’s take a moment to read this wonderful and rich passage of scripture from Colossians 2:9-15
“For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”
Thus, with these words, Paul establishes forever that Christ is preeminent. He is Deity, He is Head over all rule and authority, He has triumphed over them and disarmed them forever. More, even when we were dead, He himself, by dying, canceled out the decree of our debt, gave us life, and made us complete.
So he finishes chapter 2 with a comparison that should make all of us see the pathetic uselessness; even the sinful destructiveness, of turning back to vain worldly philosophies, and keeping of ritual and tradition and trusting in them for righteousness.
He makes the point once more in verse 20 that we have died with Christ. Christ died to the world and by faith we have entered into that death with Him. If we do not understand this, if we continue to submit to our fallen nature and the lure of the world system, then we find ourselves going back to the things that kept us hostage to futility.
A quick glance at verse 23 shows us that while worldly principles of philosophy and religion seem to have wisdom, they are still of the flesh and useless to those who are of the Spirit.
RAISED UP WITH CHRIST
So, having laid that foundation we finally come to our text verses. And the first thing we see, is that we are raised up.