Living For Christ

TC 3 - Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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What does it look like to live like a Christian in this day and age?
We live in an age of extensive ease and pleasure. With a mere dip of our hands into our pockets, we can pull out a device capable of connecting us with anyone just about anywhere in the world, order and seemingly procure our of mid air hot food delivered directly to us, and order anything our hearts may desire. It is easier to meet the basic needs of life today moreso than it ever has been before.
We also live in an age of extreme distraction. Moreso than ever before, it is so easy to be distracted by worldly things, many of which seem good. Entertainment, sports, hobbies, etcetera. Countless worldly pleasures vie for our attention and affections at a relentless level.
Paul has a word for us today in Colossians 3, encouraging us and showing us what a life lived as a Christian should look like.
Let’s read our passage: Colossians 3:1–4 “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 earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Propositional Statement

Tonight, we will see three realities about a believer’s unity with Christ so that we will understand our purpose and glorify God with our lives.

The Conditional Nature of This Passage

Before we can even discuss our desires, we have to acknowledge the conditional nature of this passage. Look at what Paul says at the outset - “If you have been raised with Christ.” This clearly is a message for believers. The rest of the passage is dependent on you meeting that condition - being raised with Christ.
The word “If” ties this passage back to the preceeding passage which condemned legalism and asceticism. Now, Paul is transitioning from the negative warnings of Chapter 2 to the positive exhortations here in Chapter 3.
How is one raised with Christ? We can simply look back in this same book. Remember Colossians 2:12 “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
To be raised with Christ means you have to have first spiritually died and been buried with him first. But just as Jesus didn’t stay dead, neither do we! As believers, we don’t just die to sin and stay dead. We still have a life to live here on this earth. Romans 6:11 says “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
We are alive to God in Christ Jesus as believers. In order to be alive after we have died, we must be raised. There has to be a transition from death to life. This can only apply to true believers. You must be a true believer who has first died to sin in order to be raised with Christ by the working of the same God who physically raised Christ from the dead.
We know that we will also one day be physically raised from the dead if we die before Christ returns. But the raising that Paul is speaking of here isn’t referring to that future physical believer’s resurrection. It refers to the Spiritual resurrection that all believers experience through the baptism of the Holy Spirit at conversion.
We know this because Paul is exhorting the Colossians of how to live now, not at some distant point in the future. This passage is not an appeal to forget this life and focus only on the eternal life to come. No, it is an appeal to act rightly in the here and now, after conversion, while we are still on this earth. Our lives post-conversion on this earth, no matter how short they may be, are significant for eternity.
So, before we get to the first reality, we must examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith as 2 Corinthians 13:5 says. Do you know this Jesus? Have you died to your sin by trusting in his substitutional work on the cross on your behalf? If you haven’t, this passage can’t apply to you. But the good news of the gospel is that you can die to your sin and experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit even tonight, by simply repenting of your sins and trusting in Jesus for eternal life. If you do that then Colossians is clear - you die with Christ, you are buried with Christ, and you are raised with Christ. In other words, you are fully unified with Christ. I believe this entire description of death, burial and resurrection with Christ describes a believer’s unity with him. And now this passage instructs you on what to do next.

Reality #1 - Our Unity With Christ Shapes Our Desires (v. 1)

It is now that we will look at the first reality of our unity with Christ, and that is our unity with Christ defines our desires.
Look at verse 1. Colossians 3:1 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
Seek the things that are above. What does this mean? Paul explains - the things of Heaven, which is where Christ is, in his appointed place at the right hand of the Father.
As Christians, our desires should be for the things of Christ. Our unity with Christ requires this.
Paul isn’t advocating for some kind of hyper-spiritual experience where we have some kind of vision of the throne room of God and we almost pretend like we are there, neglecting this life altogether. No, I think if he wanted to say that, he would have advocated strongly for that position.
In fact, taking the context of the entire book into consideration, it is in just a few verses that he is going to give rules for Christian households. How husbands, wives, children, and bondservants are to act. If he were advocating here for becoming spiritually absent from this life in order to be spiritually present in Heaven, giving such clear instructions for how to act here on earth just a few verses later wouldn’t make sense and wouldn’t be consistent.
We must set our minds on things above, meaning desire the things of Christ, in this life here on earth so as to glorify him in our lives on earth. One day, we will be present with him as we will see in a few moments. But right now we are not. But that doesn’t mean we live like we aren’t unified with him. We are to desire Christ even in this life.
Do you desire the things of Christ? More than just desire, do you actively seek after him, as this verse instructs you to. This is not passive change. This is an active command to pursue him. Is your life characterized by a desire for Christ, or a desire for the things of this world?

Reality #2 - Our Unity With Christ Directs Our Focus (v. 2)

Now that we have seen that our unity with Christ shapes our desires, we see in verse 2 that our unity with Christ shapes our focus. Verse 2 says Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
We saw that we are to actively seek Christ in verse 1, and now verse 2 tells us that we should do that by focusing on the things above. Philippians 4:8 helps define exactly what the things above can refer to. It says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Our unity with Christ necessitates that we think, meditate, and focus on these pure things.
In fact, the entire focus of our lives should be on eternal things. Why? Because thinking of the things above will direct our life focus and dictate what we do with our lives here on earth.
If you recognize your unity with Christ and are constantly thinking of the things above, how will that change how you work? How you parent your kids? How you love your wife? How you decide how to spend your time, including what hobbies to take up, what to watch on TV, what school to send your kids to?
The list is almost limitless. A Christian that is unified with Christ as evidenced by a newly directed focus on the things that are above will live and look radically different than they did before that unification took place.
And Paul gives a negative counter to this as well when he says, not on things that are on earth. Referring to worldly pursuits. This is a put off and a put on command that Paul is so well known for.
What about you, believer? Does your life look radically different than those of your unbelieving neighbors? It should. Unbelievers cannot think rightly about the things that are above. A believer that is unified with Christ can because of his changed life - his resurrected life - and should look radically different.

Reality #3 - Our Unity With Christ Defines Our Identity (vv. 3-4)

We’ve see how our unity with Christ shapes our desires and directs our focus and now finally we will see how it defines our identity.
Look at verses 3 to 4. Colossians 3:3–4 “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
Notice the past, present and future realities in this verse:
You have died - past tense.
Your life is hidden with Christ - present tense.
You will appear with him in glory - future tense.
Our unity with Christ changes everything, past, present, and future. Our entire identity shifts primarily from an identity of self-focus to an identity centered on Christ.
For someone who has died, it is physically impossible for them to be the same as they one were. Our passage reminds us that we have died and our life is now hidden with Christ in God. We are no longer the same. We cannot identify as the same. We must find our identity in Christ and Christ alone. Before we are saved we have identity only in our sin and in ourselves. Now that we have died and been raised, we can only find that identity in the one who is responsible for raising us.
As 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 “ You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.”
And here now we have the ultimate hope, the culmination of what this identity means, we will appear with Christ in glory. But the beauty of this passage is that we don’t have to wait until that day when we are glorified with Christ. We have this identity now. We can and should live for him now because of this sweet reality.


We’ve seen three realities of our unity with Christ, that it shapes our desires, directs our focus, and defines our identity. For a Christian, living this earthly life outside of these realities should be an impossibility. This passage helped us to see how our unification with Christ doesn’t just recommend we live this way, but it requires it.
In order to be dead to something but still breathing, you have to be alive to something else. For a Christian, that means being alive to Christ for the remainder of this life and into eternity forever.
Remember though, as a believer, you cannot do this in your own strength. You cannot of your own will, seek the things above or set your mind on them. So don’t try. Rest in the finished work of Christ and in his power to enable you to fulfill these commands. You are unified with him not because of anything that you did, but only because of what he did. So don’t try to now act in the way prescribed in this passage in your own strength. Allow Christ to work these realities into your life in his strength.
But don’t sit and wait passively either. These are active verbs - to seek and to set your mind. You must, as a believer, strive after the things of Christ. Just don’t try do it alone or in your own strength. Rest in Christ, and pursue him with all your might.
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