"For you have died..."
Devotion for Thursday, June 18, 2020
Colossians 3:3, “For you have died…”
Beginning today, we will be starting a devotional series on the concept of Christian identity. Who are we in Christ Jesus? How does the Christian identity differ from the worldly identity?
The Apostle Paul focuses on this concept as he turns to the practical portion of Colossians beginning in chapter 3. Paul instructs us to set our mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth. (v. 2) I have heard it said of some individuals, “He’s so heavenly minded, he’s no earthly good.” This statement has a tint of truth to it, but it misses the mark. Paul would disagree. He would say that there is no such thing as being too heavenly-minded. As a matter of fact, the more heavenly minded you are, the more good you can accomplish on this earth.
But why are we to focus on things above? The first important reason is because that is where Christ is, seated in the heavenlies, at the right hand of God. The second reason is the focus of this devotional. Paul says that we need to set our minds on the things above, because we have died.
Wait, what? We have died?!?! Yes, you have read that correctly. Paul declares that true believers have died, and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. Understanding what it means to be dead to oneself and to sin is crucial to living a life that glorifies God. It is so easy for many believers to get distracted by the demands of earthly life, that they are unable to notice that they are missing out on such a greater identity and purpose to which God has called them.
This is the whole purpose of baptism. The ordinance proclaims to the world that one has passed from death to life. But before we can be raised to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus, we must understand that a true death has taken place. Paul is not mincing words when he says, FOR YOU HAVE DIED. This is what Jesus means when he says, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must DENY himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:28) We must deny ourselves. This means that we must lay down the rights, agendas, dreams, ambitions, diversions, perspectives, possessions, loves, characteristics, and identity markers that we held dear and made us WHO WE WERE while we were still sinners, dead in our trespasses.
We are then to take up our cross. This means that we are to go to the place of death, and we shall nail our former selves upon that cross and allow who we were to die. The cross is also a public mode of execution. This points to baptism. Baptism is a public declaration. We declare that our former selves are no longer alive. We are now a different person. We are now UNITED with Christ both in His death and, now, in His resurrection. Paul puts it this way, “For you have died, AND YOUR LIFE IS HIDDEN WITH CHRIST IN GOD.” (v. 3)
Our entire identity is now completely hidden with Christ. Another way to understand the word hidden is that our lives are covered with Christ. Remember the story of Moses on Sinai. He wished to see the glory of the LORD. The LORD told him that no one can see His glory and live. So, Jehovah placed Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered his face with His hand to protect him. As Moses was hidden in the cleft of the rock, so are we hidden in Christ, protected and preserved (Exodus 33:20-23).
Remember also that after Moses came down from the mountain and even though he had seen the LORD’s glory as it passed by (not face to face), Moses’ face shown with a brilliant radiance. It shown with such glory the people were afraid of him and made a veil for him to wear. As our lives are hidden with Christ, we shine with the radiance of Christ and Jehovah. The purpose of our new identity is to reflect the glory of Christ and Jehovah to those around us.
Therefore, now that we walk in newness of life and set our minds on things above, may our lives reflect the glory of the Lord, not for our sake, but for the sake of the gospel. When people see you as a follower of Christ, they see the old you – for your old self has been buried, put away. When people see you, may they see Jesus Himself. May your character and your identity be found with the Messiah in Jehovah.
Pastor, Sharon First Baptist Church