Col 3:1-2 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
(2) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
As I study through the book of Colossians I can't help but think of my early Christian life. Back when I believed that my efforts would get me in right standing with God and if I just tried harder to look like my life was in order I would be a good Christian. Coming to these verses in Chapter three I think about how easy it is to think it is all about trying harder. And nothing could be further from the truth.
As one reads down through the chapter, there are a lot of don'ts. Or as the Apostle Paul states, "put to death." Being a Christian and killing sin is serious business. In our culture today the talk of the blood of the cross, killing sin, or putting ones self to death is offensive and often not discussed. Not only does Paul use such harsh language toward sin, but Jesus does as well. In Matthew he tells us to poke out our eye or cut off our arm if they cause us to sin. He warns people that they will be accursed and spend eternity in hell if they live as if they are Christians but are only doing it for any other reason than to bring glory to Christ.
Killing sin in our life is one of the central themes in the Bible. It is what separates us from the Father and thankfully Jesus gave us way to be forgiven by being killed for our sin. And not only did he take the punishment of death on our behalf, he was raised again on the third day. And that's where we see Paul taking us in the start of this chapter.
If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things of Christ. Set your mind on the pursuit of godly things not carnal things. As you read through this chapter and see all the sins we are to put to death it can be overwhelming. "How am I supposed to do all that?" you may ask as I have many times in my life. Put to death all that is earthly, sexual immorality, passions, evil desires, slander, anger, malice and on and on. And then to top it off Paul lets us know what to do instead. We are to have compassion, kindness, patience, meekness, love for one another and so on. As I walked as a new believer I was exhausted trying to keep this list of do's and don'ts. Until I discovered a true understanding of this chapter.
The first part of verse 16 is like the key to the kingdom here. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." Putting to death sin in our life is not about trying harder to kill it, it is about spending time with the One who already conquered sin at the cross. Paul instructs us that the key to Col 3:1-15 is to abide in the word of Christ. Then he tells us that whatever we do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I meditate on these verses I can't help but realize that it is about being in Christ and not about doing for Christ. The killing of sin and the putting on of righteousness comes from abidance, not from obedience. Yes, we are to obey the Word, but that comes through our abiding in Christ. Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing. That includes putting to death the sin in our life. God provided the law to the Jews for 1500 years to show them that putting to death the sin in their life was not possible simply by the act of their own will, rather, they needed a Messiah.
Are you struggling with putting to death sin in your life today? Is it a challenge to live righteous before God? I encourage you to stop trying so hard and start abiding in the Word of Christ. As you abide in Him the things of your life that hinder your walk will be replaced by the fruit the Spirit came to bring. Of course we need to repent and turn from our sin, but the power to do that does not come from willpower, but Holy Spirit power! I trust today that He will do a great thing in you as you turn to Him for all things. Set your heart and your mind on the things of Christ and you will see His power take hold of your life.