If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you will appear with him in glory.
Near the end of Colossians 2 (specifically verse 20), Paul poses a question to the believers in the church at Colosse. He asks,
‘ If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world do you submit to regulations”
The believers in the Colossian Church were being confronted by false teachers who were out to impose on them standards and means of spiritual growth and fullness that were not centered on Jesus Christ. Part of Paul’s appeal to them to not buy into this sort of stuff was this reminder of their identity and part of it’s implications (v. 20) Paul reminds us that believers, by virtue of being united to Christ, have died to things like legalistic rituals and rules, and asceticism as a means of spiritual growth. These things, Paul says, “…are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (verse 23)
The question then lingers….”How DO we stop the indulgence of the flesh”. And undoubtedly, even many believers when asking this question, will expect an answer that begins with a list of things to “do“, but in answering this question, Paul directs us to first engage our minds, wills, and affections. He says, “If then you’ve been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is…” (3:1).
The implication is that a huge part of successfully stopping the indulgence of the flesh is having a mind that lingers on and is captivated by the glory and majesty of the risen Christ. Paul says, “…seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God”. Believers are exhorted to begin the battle against the flesh by having minds and hearts that are captivated by an Exalted Savior.
This perhaps seems a bit escapist to many people (even some Christians), but the reality is THIS IS THE ULTIMATE REALITY. When we set our minds on Jesus, our glorious, exalted savior and remember that we have been united to Him by faith, we are aligning ourselves with what is ultimately true. Not only that, if we heed the exhortation that Paul gives here, I’m convinced (as is Paul I believe) that the pleasures offered by sin will lose much of their appeal. As the hymn writer Helen H. Lemmel wrote in the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”,
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
Grace and Peace,