Colossians 3:1-11 Raised with Christ

"If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.  5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  6 For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all," (Col. 3:1-11).

As a Christian God wants you to be aware of many things: the power or prayer, the sufficiency of the cross, the depth of His love, the power of forgiveness, the need for patience... He wants you to know from where you have come and where you are going.  He wants you to put away the old man and put on the new man.

But God also wants you to use your minds and your mental faculties in a holy, constructive, and faithful way.  He wants your attitude to be positive. He wants your focus to be on Him and what is Holy.  He wants you to know that you are dearly loved by Him.

But there is something else that God wants you to know, something that He wants you to seek, something He wants you to do.  God expects you to seek heavenly things.


  1. God wants you to keep seeking heavenly things because you have been raised with Christ, verse 1
    1. You have been raised with Christ.
      1. But, for someone to have been raised he must have first died....
      2. Where, then, did you die?
    2. Your death occurred on the Cross... You are so closely tied to the cross in Jesus, that it is said that you have died with Jesus.  This is because you are "in Christ."
      1. You have died, as is spoken here verse 3, and you have been raised.  You who have joined yourselves to the holy One.  You, who once were far off, but now are near.  You, who once partook of earthly, fleshly vices... You have been raised with Christ... because you have died with Christ.
    3. When was it that you died?
      1. You died when Christ died. You are united to Him so completely, that God sees you as having died with His Son.
        1. "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus," (Rom. 6:23).
        2. You have sinned.  You must die, either on the cross, or spiritually in hell.
      2. Reformed theology fits particularly well here
        1. Federal Headship... Jesus represented His people.  He died; you died.  He rose; you rose.
          1. "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died," (2 Cor. 5:14).
      3. The Cross, the place of forgiveness, of death, and atonement is the reason for your spiritual resurrection.  You are no longer dead in your trespasses and sins.  You have been raised.
      4. Limited atonement - Jesus accomplished redemption for those whom He died.
    4. Your hidden life is a life that awaits you.  A life of holiness, sinlessness, and perfection, a life that will be joined to you...
    5. And having died, you have also been raised.  As Jesus represented you in His death, He also represents you in His resurrection.
    6. This death you have undergone is not merely symbolic.  It is practical.  You are to consider yourselves dead to sin, dead to the earthly patterns and desires.
    7. V. 1 Seek the things above
      1. The verb "seek" implies a persevering effort; therefore it could be translated "keep seeking", which implies you are already seeking.  God wants you to continually seek those things that are above.
      2. He wants you to strive for, pursue, go after the things that are above.
    8. where Christ is v. 1c
      1. Paul adds "where Christ is" to help you understand the level of holiness to which you are to set your mind.
      2. Center your life on the crucified, risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus who is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
        1. Therefore, you are to seek very holiness of God.
        2. God, through the apostle Paul, wants you to keep seeking that which is pure; for example, Galatians 5:22-23, says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control..."
        3. But probably Paul is speaking of those things mentioned in verses 12 and 13 of this same chapter of Col. 3:12-13 "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
  2. V. 2 (Because you have been raised with Christ) Set your minds on things above verse 2
    1. not on earthly things - these earthly things are listed in verse 5: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
      1. Elsewhere, Paul says similar things: Romans 13:14 says, "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
      2. Galatians 5:16 says, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
      3. The change from "seek" in verse 1 to "set your minds" in verse 2 emphasizes the mental reorientation which a new life in Christ necessitates.
        1. Paul uses the Greek word "phronein."  It carries with it the idea of devoting one's whole mental activity not simply an occasional thought.
    2. It is with your mind that you train and transform your soul.
      1. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will," (Rom. 12:2).
      2. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- let your mind dwell on these things," (Phil. 4:8).
    3. So, God wants you to set your mind on heavenly things.
  3. A Promise in verse 4: When Christ appears, we will also appear with Him in glory
    1. This is another thing that the Lord wants you to set your mind on: the return of Jesus.
    2. At the return of Jesus, our new resurrected bodies will be manifested and the real "you" in Christ will be revealed.
    3. It is as though what you really are (sinless, holy, regenerate) will be made manifest. The real "you" will be revealed.
    4. You have a new body, without sin, without sickness, without despair and struggle, waiting for you. Because Jesus is in heaven, so are your dwelling places.  And when He returns, He will unite you with what you truly are in Him: saved, holy, and without sin.
    5. The things spoken of in the next verse will be done away with.
  4. V. 5 Therefore, (because you have died with Christ and been raised with Him) you are to put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature
    1. But how can we who have died, put to death that which is still alive in us?  Wouldn't it be dead in us too?  Is this a contradiction?  Not at all.  The answer is that as long as believers are still living on earth their condition and their state do not wholly coincide.
      1. The condition of the believer is that he is wholly justified.  That is only possible through the death of Christ, the death to which we are united.
      2. Yet, we still live and struggle with the flesh.
    2. Paul is speaking of the progressive character of sanctification.
    3. Paul lists those things which you are to put to death: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.
      1. Elsewhere Paul lists similar vices: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.  4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person -- such a man is an idolater -- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient," (Eph. 5:3-6).
      2. In both the verses in Ephesians and here in Colossians, Paul calls these vices idolatry.  But how are they idolatry?
        1. Idolatry is the honor, adoration, devotion to false gods.  But here Paul calls these sins, these vices idolatry.  These vices, then, are like idols.
        2. An idol can be carried around, hidden from view, and taken out in private to be honored, and fed with sacrifices of sin.
        3. It can also be displayed and shared with others.
      3. What in your life is a secret sin that you carry around.  Do you have idols?  Do you have secrets that only you and God know about?
          1. Maybe you have some old sins that you carry around with you that you haven't given up to God yet...or maybe you have and you take them back every now and then.
          2. Maybe you have an ability that you boast in, or a possession you take pride in, etc.
        1. If you know you have something that you hold onto that takes away from your adoration to God, then acknowledge it before Jesus, confess it, receive cleansing, and consider your self to be dead to sin.
        2. Confess your sins and trust the Lord Jesus to forgive you...
  5. V. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming (upon the ungodly.)
    1. Judgment is coming upon the ungodly... but not upon you. Why?
      1. Because you have died with Christ.
      2. Because you are covered in the blood of the Lamb.
      3. Because your faith and trust are in the Lord Jesus.
      4. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," (Romans 8:1).
    2. The sins listed above attract judgment like a magnet attracts iron.
      1. "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness," (Rom. 1:18).
  6. In verses 7-9, A list of evil practices follows:
    1. "But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,"
    2. These things are things the unregenerate would do.
    3. Christians are not to do these things.  YOU are not to participate in slander, gossip, abusive speech.  YOU are to be honest and sincere before all people with clean speech.
    4. "But now"
      1. Romans 6:22, "But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life."
      2. Romans 7:6 "But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter."
      3. Ephesians 2:13 "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."
      4. Ephesians 5:8 "for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light,"
  7. Because you have a new identity in Christ, you are continually being renewed in Him, verse 10-11
    1. This renewal, which is accomplished by God, helps to keep you from sin.
    2. This renewal of the new self is in knowledge (eis epigno'sin; cf. Col. 1:9; 2:2). It takes place as a believer comes to a personal, deep knowledge of and fellowship with Christ
    3. You are being made and formed into the image of Christ.


You are so completely united and identified with Jesus that it can be said of you that you have died and have been raised with Christ. The judgment of spiritual death cannot fall to you because the Holy One, Jesus, has bought you passage into the presence of God.

Because of this blessing founded in the sacrifice of Christ, because of this calling, you are to seek the heavenly virtues, you are to seek the Holy One, you are to keep yourselves from evil and consider yourselves dead to your old sinful ways.

God has not given you a command that He has not enabled you to obey.

Keep seeking that which is in heaven; pursue holiness, strive for it, and you will find.  He says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you," (Matthew 7:7).

Seek holiness.  Ask for godliness.  Set your mind on heavenly things.

Live a life dominated by the pattern of heaven.

This is what God wants for you.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.