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"Have your mind on the things that are above"

Discussion in 'Doctrinal Discussions' started by Grant Melville, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. "If therefore ye have been raised with the Christ, seek the things which are above, where the Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God: have your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth; for ye have died, and your life is hid with the Christ in God. When the Christ is manifested who is our life, then shall ye also be manifested with him in glory." - Colossians 3:1-4

    I hope we can have a discussion about the practical application of this scripture. It's certainly a testing one, and I find myself tested by it, perhaps more than anybody.
    As believers, we have died. Baptism is a figure of that, the 'old man' going out of sight in death, and our being raised with the Christ into new life. We're of a new order of man altogether. "Such as he made of dust, such also those made of dust; and such as the heavenly one, such also the heavenly ones." (1 Corinthians 15:48). We were of Adam, but now we're of Christ. Through His immeasurably great work, we've become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).

    This exhortation by Paul is ‘sandwiched’ between two sections describing things that are negative – at the end of chapter 2, it seems to be outward things that would constrict us. In chapter 3, it’s inward things that would corrupt us. What frees us from both is our having died with the Christ.

    “If ye have died with the Christ from the elements of the world…” (Colossians 2:20) – the outward things are dealt with.

    “Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth…” (Colossians 3:5) – the inward things are dealt with.

    When Paul writes “Put to death”, it’s the aorist – it means ‘be in the state of having done it’. In other words, it’s not an instruction for us to go and do it – it’s an exhortation to us to be in that state of having put our members to death. After all, we’ve already died with the Christ. That is objectively true of us – there’s really no doubt at all about our having died and having been raised. That’s the divine viewpoint. Is it practically true of me?

    The purpose behind this is really that we should be free, that we should be at liberty before God. We’re no longer subject to ordinances (Colossians 2:20) and we’ve “put off the old man with his deeds, and… put on the new…” (Colossians 3:9-10). We have every possible advantage!

    We’re to have our minds on the things that are above. What an occupation! What is actually there, “above”? – Paul tells us: “where the Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God…” A glorified Christ, doesn’t that thrill our hearts? We, who are identified with Him in rejection in the world, and will be identified with Him in glorious manifestation in a future day. This is the time of mourning in a certain sense, the time of His absence: “But days will come when the bridegroom will have been taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15). Am I conscious of His rejection in the world which cruelly cast Him out and put Him to death – do I feel it? Am I identified with Him inwardly? If I am, then surely I’ll be stirred in my heart when I think of His glory now – my throne-seated Lord, soon to be publicly vindicated! If these holy feelings are in my heart, then surely I’ll be utterly, practically free – free from ordinances without, free from lusts within, with seeking the things that are above.
    Elizabeth Lambino, Son of Jesus, Cturtle and 6 others say Amen and like this.
  2. Thanks for sharing. Great revelation and fully agree...put off the old man to live freely after the things above and one of the things you've called out as being part of the old man was deeds of sin. Just to add my understanding of the verse you shared...the earthly things are also the systems/principles of the world that controlled our minds/ decision making as well as the things on earth we had set our eyes on and thus taken our focus from Christ e.g. money is everything including the source of happiness and joy, work hard for self-sufficiency, scarcity mentality - keep as much as you can for self, seek happiness at all costs by fulfilling our own desires, judge the worth of people based on their social status and treat them as such, defining success according to the world's standard, relating to God based on our works, etc etc...and many more strongholds that had set themselves in our minds against the word of God. 2 Cor. 10:4-5

    However, we that walk in the Spirit now focus on the things above; the higher things...the things of the Kingdom of God. As we walk daily in the Spirit's guidance and reading the word of God, He reveals to us His purposes for us and when we focus on these we focus on the things above. e.g. spreading the Gospel, exercising our love for each other as Christ commanded, spending time in fellowship with God/knowing God in prayer, praise, worship and the word, seeking opportunities to exercise the power of Christ in us- the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us (Eph. 1: 19-20), using trying times as an opportunity to exercise our faith in God, giving out of love, encouraging each other etc etc.

    Net, I see this verse as a call to renew our minds to be in accordance to our new life with Christ living through us.


    Son of Jesus, Cturtle, Nanon and 2 others say Amen and like this.
  3. Paul, thank you for your reply! These are wonderful truths, aren't they? Liberty is a feature of Christianity, we're set free to be to God. What you say about systems and principles is very important. The world is full of systems and principles which are not of God, and to be freed from them is a great blessing. "Not of the world", that's an amazing statement as to us!
    Elizabeth Lambino and Cturtle say Amen and like this.
  4. Thank you, both.


    In Christ Jesus
    Our risen, and glorified,
    Saviour, Lord and Head.

    Son of Jesus and Major say Amen and like this.
  5. Agreed! Good stuff!
  6. Why do you ask, is it practically true of me? For you have died.
    Surely we are called upon to accept the divine viewpoint, and not pull the plant up to see if the roots are growing.

    In Christ Jesus
  7. I see Colossians 3:5 as being in the aorist sense. But verse 8 to the end of the chapter not so much.
    Verse 5 includes "fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness".
    Paul then elucidates those things which we must be on guard against: "anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another". These are the carnal attitudes of the flesh which creep back when we are unawares.
    Therein lies the battle within.
    Elizabeth Lambino likes this.
  8. #8 Grant Melville, Aug 4, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
    I ask if it's practically true of me, in sense of, "Am I living as if it is so?". I know it's objectively true of me that I have died and been raised, but does that affect my outlook, my behaviour, what I say and do and think? Do I practically work out what I know to be objectively true, in the day-to-day circumstances of my life? I find that testing. Of course, we have every help and resource to work things out practically here as believers in an adverse scene - we have Christ and the Spirit. We simply have to be dependent on divine resources, then we find what's objectively true works out practically as well. Would you agree?
    Major and Complete say Amen and like this.
  9. Yes, I see what you mean. But, both "Put to death" in verse 5 and "But now, put off" in verse 8 are both the aorist. Then in the latter part of verse 9, after having listed all those things, Paul says "having put off the old man with his deeds". Those are all deeds of the old man, which we're to be in a state of having put off. And then Paul goes on to say "Put on" in verse 12 (again, which is the aorist) and lists a lot of positive things which should mark us. I do understand what you mean, and we do need to be on our guard against all of the negative things, absolutely.

    I suppose that these things, which are spoken of in the aorist sense, all describe us as we're seen from the divine viewpoint. We're seen as being in Christ, and therefore none of those negative things could mark us, and all of those positive things characterise us. That said, we know that if we aren't careful and we don't guard against them, these things can creep in. We have to be viligant, so that what is objectively true of us is practically true of us as well. However, here, Paul seems to be giving the Colossians (and every believer) full credit for having put off those things and put on these things. He presents the divine standard. It's not an unattainable ideal, but features which are normal to the believer.
    Major and Complete say Amen and like this.
  10. Hello Grant,

    I am so glad you have responded. Thank you. :)
    Yes, I agree with you: very much so.

    In Christ Jesus
    Grant Melville likes this.
  11. Likewise, thank you for your response! It's very encouraging when we can agree on things and have a shared enjoyment of the truth. I really do treasure that. Not to focus on the negative, but it is unsettling when the brethren disagree about things. I see far too much of that, and most probably it's my own fault in many cases! But, I think it does have a positive effect - if I love the brethren, it makes me get before God and really examine myself to see if there's anything there which could be causing disunity among us. I really feel it, more than more, that self is at the root of so many difficulties and heart-breaks among the people of God. Often it's myself as well, which really is a test for me. But, to get back to focusing on the positive side of things, it really is wonderful when the brethren are dwelling together in unity and we can enjoy the things of God together in that atmosphere.
    Complete likes this.
  12. I think the "But now" changes the sense of when, from before to "but now"; I used to live in those things in verse 5, but now I don't. Add to "but now", "you yourselves are to put off", and it is clear to me that Paul is talking about what they need to do now, which is watch out for these things which can creep into our lives from the sin nature.

    7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
  13. Yes, Grant,

    I have become discouraged by so much disagreement, not so much here, but elsewhere. It has made me question the wisdom of participating on a forum at all. However, the Lord has also used such times to strengthen my own faith, as I have searched the Scriptures for myself, to weigh what is being said in the light of what is written.

    I have been encouraged here, on this forum, particularly, for the amount of times I have found myself happy with what is being said, and the manner in which entries are made.

    Thank you again,
    In Christ Jesus
    Son of Jesus, Big Moose and Grant Melville says Amen and like this.
  14. That's very much been my experience as well. This is definitely the best forum I've participated in, and the only one I'm a member of now.
  15. Ah, I understand now, I see the distinction now - thank you. Part of the key is in verse 7, isn't it? "In which ye also once walked when ye lived in these things." "In which" can also be translated "Among whom", meaning that Paul is referring to the sons of disobedience themselves, rather than the deeds. Believers wouldn't be found walking with unbelievers, they would be separate. The Colossians saints "once walked" and they no longer walk in these things or with those people. Then, from verse 8, it seems that something further has to be put off, over and above these things which are in the past, done away with decisively. Soul exercise is still needed in order to be kept from these things. Is that right, would you say?
  16. Yes. Well put. Soul exercise. We exercise it to keep it healthy, and also exercise it in the sense of using it in the spiritual battle along with the spiritual armor we should keep with us. (Eph 6) Not just sit on the sidelines.
    Grant Melville likes this.
  17. Hello Grant and Big Moose,

    The only thing about talking in terms of 'soul exercise', is that it presumes a separate identity called 'soul': when the testimony of Scripture is that 'soul' is the combination of spirit (breath of life) and body, both together make 'a living soul'. It is 'the whole person' who is a living soul: and by separating the two, even for the best of reasons, I believe, plays into the hands of those who insist that the soul has a life apart from resurrection, and apart from body and spirit, and goes on to either 'Heaven' or 'Hell' at the death of the one it inhabits. This gives room to spiritualism, theosophy (or are they one and the same thing?) and every vain imagining of man.

    * Please don't respond, if in doing so the subject of this thread is derailed.

    In Christ Jesus
    Grant Melville likes this.
  18. #18 Grant Melville, Aug 6, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
    I can't take credit for having coined that phrase myself, I have to admit! It's something I say without thinking, just the normal language I tend to use day-to-day. I think exercise would definitely suggest activity, along the lines that you've indicated. Earlier this evening my brethren and I were enquiring into Jude's epistle together, and a lot was said about Jude's exhortation to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3) I think that would involve soul exercise, and if we're to contend and hold fast that ground, we surely need the spiritual armour. And we can't contend from the sidelines either! That's a very good point, it really encapsulates what I believe soul exercise to be, active. Abigail in is someone I think of as being exercised (1 Samuel 25) - people sometimes talk about Abigail's "militant ministry", by which they mean she was active, rather than in a violent or warlike sense.

    I see what you mean. We have to be careful in the language we use. If the term "soul exercise" would be a source of stumbling to anyone, I'd just as rather not use it. I don't think the term in itself is actually used in scripture, and one does have to be careful about that sort of thing.

    As far as I understand this truth, I would most definitely agree that we can't divorce the thought of the soul from the spirit and the body. There is a time when the soul is parted from the body, as we see in 2 Corinthians 5:8 - "... we are confident, I say, and pleased rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord." When the believer dies, they are taken to be with the Lord - what they are, essentially, is there with him, although their "earthly tabernacle" is no longer inhabited: "For we know that if our earthly tabernacle house be destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (2 Corinthians 5:1). However, the believer won't spend eternity in a disembodied state, because the Lord will "transform our body of humiliation into conformity to his body of glory" (Philippians 3:21). There will, I firmly believe, be a bodily resurrection of the dead, and a transformation of believer's body. The unbelieving dead will be raised too, as Revelation 20:5 tells us, and Matthew 10:28 tells us that they will be in hell, body and soul. Your reference to a living soul is very helpful. "The first man Adam became a living soul..." (1 Corinthians 15:45). The soul and the spirit go together. I'm sorry if I'm repeating what you've already said, but I like to set these things out so that the brethren can help me if I'm missing the mark.

    Regarding the term "soul exercise", I wouldn't for a moment want to suggest any activity which is separate from or independent of the body or the spirit. A soul without a spirit is dead, incapable of any movement or exercise. A soul without a body is either in hades or with Christ, and is therefore in a place of departure or of rest, respectively. "Those who have fallen asleep through Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 4:14) no longer have soul exercise, their souls are at rest, as this lovely expression in Thessalonians conveys. The unbeliever, who is "dead in [their] offences and sins" (Ephesians 2:1) is incapable of soul exercise. There is no life in them, therefore there can be no activity Godward. I think that's what soul exercise is basically, activity Godward. Movement in relation to Him. Soul exercise would always entail movement with an objective - as our brother Big Moose has said, it can't be a case of sitting on the sidelines, and it can't be jogging on the spot either. Soul exercise brings us somewhere, it propels us forward. The objective is a heavenly one. If I'm occupied with a Man in heaven, my desires are caught up with Him, I want to be there. Exercise would draw me into heavenly things. If I'm exercised, it might well be about divine principles, or about the brethren, or about my own personal walk: but whatever the exercise, whatever I carry by way of exercise, it always leads to the same objective. I feel that without soul exercise, there can be little evidence of life in the believer. If I'm unmoved, unchanging, unresponsive in my life down here, then I don't think I really am living, and I'm certainly not in the good or enjoyment of Christianity, of eternal life. But if I am moving, changing, responding - growing! - then what a testimony that is! Even the unbeliever can take account of an exercised soul. They can't possibly share our exercises, like the brethren can with many of the things we carry, but they can see that there's life or a different sort there. If I'm exercised, I care about what God cares about, not what the world cares about. That's a test, and it brings me back to the topic of the thread. If I have my mind on the things that are above, I will be exercised.

    I hope that's correct. As I say, the term "soul exercise" isn't something I attach much importance to, and it's probably an imperfect form of speech, but what it describes - well, I believe that's vitally important.

    P.S. These scriptures have just come to mind. I can't say much about them, but I think they are helpful:

    "Now the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly: and your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Thessalonians 5:23

    "For as the body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." - James 2:26
    Complete likes this.
  19. AMEN my brother!!!!
    Grant Melville likes this.
  20. Chris, I am just and old country boy, no more and no less. I just read a book by Chuck Swindoll titled "Growing Deep in the Christian Life" where he talks about what you just posted.

    His quote was....
    " When the believer dies, the body goes into the grave; the soul and spirit go immediately to be with the Lord Jesus awaiting the body's resurrection, when they're joined together to be forever with the Lord in eternal bliss."

    Is that what you are saying or are you saying something else?

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