Risen With Christ

Colossians 3:1-17

We get here the blessed side of the Christian state—being risen with Christ, the great groundwork on which we are. It is not that Christ has died for our sins, but that we have died and are risen, and this is the starting-point of the exhortation. We have done altogether with the old man, having died as children of Adam; and we are also risen, having totally done with the world, and yet in it, but risen with Christ; therefore you get the practice of a person risen, and the affections and state and condition of the heart. The Christian is looked at as a person not alive on earth at all; he has died, and now, “If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things that are above.” In chapter 2 you get, “Why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances? “You are not living in the world—you are dead. Now set your affection on things above. You belong there; you have not gone there yet, but the new man is not in you to put you into earthly things. The Spirit takes of “the things of Christ” and shews them to you, not to fix your hearts on earthly things, but to deliver you from them; we are to be, in spirit, mind, and affections, up there. We are risen, and having nothing more to do with the world, as to our affections and object, than a man who has died out of it. It does not say, “You must die,” but, “You are dead,” for that is the Christian state. Christ having died, and He being my life, my life is hid up there in Him. There is complete association with Christ. He has died; I have died. He is hidden up there; my life is hidden. He will appear; I shall appear with Him in glory. Thorough, complete, blessed association with Christ is the place into which we are put; and it is the starting-point of the character of this life displayed on the earth to which we do not belong. If an angel were here, he would dc that which was God’s will for him; but he would have nothing to do with the earth as to the object for which he lived.

The apostle does not allow that we have any life here, but talks of our members: “Mortify”—put to death—“therefore your members which are upon the earth.” All that proceeds from the flesh the Christian is not to allow for a moment. Mark how different it is to dying to sin. Mortify is just the opposite, it is putting to death. That is power. If I say, “I must die,” that is being alive. We are dead to sin, the world, and the law. Christ having died, we have died. What is true of Him is true of us. Having now life and power, we are to put these things to death. There is no more lust, or self-will, or working of the flesh, if a man is dead. I am to reckon myself dead, not setting about to die to sin, for I should not be able; that is, the flesh, the old man, does not want to die. The apostle says, “Reckon yourselves dead.” You have died. Then put off the old man. “Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed.” Sin has been “condemned in the flesh.” Now I have the place of power to put to death every evil that the flesh would produce. Put to death your members, not your life in Adam. You are dead; therefore put to death your members. If you let them act, it is the flesh. The Christian has power in Christ— “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”— to put down everything inconsistent with the fife in which this power is. The life is hid with Christ in God, but our members are on the earth; and he says, Now keep them in order; you have the power in Christ.

There is not deliverance till you get to that. “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” We have to watch, not to be careless and let these things spring up; but we have the power to say, Not a single sprout of the old stock shall spring up. The old tree is cut down and grafted. The old stock may begin to sprout, but that is not the tree in common parlance; it has been grafted. We know the stock is there, and so is our flesh there; but we must remember we have power, and we must not excuse ourselves. Our will is not changed; but if Christ is our object, there is power. There is still the law of sin and death; but I am not a debtor to it; it has no claim or power over me. It will have power enough if we allow it; but we have a power entirely above it. The Lord leaves us here to learn to have our senses exercised to discern good and evil, to be tested and tried. The flesh is there; but if we are full of Christ, we are masters of it; if we are not full of Christ, it masters us: but it is our own fault—we have no excuse. We have to exhibit this life of Christ, or else the flesh acts, and then the old man is exhibited. The apostle says, You are not living in the old man at all now; you are living in Christ, and you are not going to walk in these things.

In verse 7, he applies it to their walk. It requires us to make active use of the power. The flesh is soon up if we are not full of Christ. We are to arm ourselves with the power of Christ, and be active in keeping the flesh in its place—down altogether. If I am not full of Christ, for Himself, for His own sake, enjoying Him, the flesh comes out. It will not do to put on your armour at the battle. Everything we pass through in this world is one of two things: either an occasion of obedience to the new man, or of temptation to the old. The Lord prayed in an agony in Gethsemane; and when they come to take Him, He says, “Whom seek ye?” He had gone through it with His Father, and it was an occasion of obedience when it came. “The cup which my Father hath given me shall I not drink it?” Peter was asleep in the garden; and when the Lord is witnessing a good confession, he is cursing and swearing he does not know Him. If we were full of Christ, temptations would be nothing but occasions of obedience and glorifying God. We need self-knowledge and diligence of heart in abiding in Christ for Himself, so that when the temptation comes, we do not enter into it, and it is an occasion of blessed obedience.

In verse 8, we come to another thing—there is no lust, but the flesh is not subdued. We have no lust to be angry; it is an unsubdued nature, and that is not Christ. This is a second step—” also put off all these.” We have done with these horrid evils that God abhors (and He abhors them even more in His children than in others; His delight in us does not change the holiness of His nature) now put off these which express an unsubdued will, and unarrested action of the flesh. If a man says something to me, and I get in a passion, that is not Christ; it is that which unsubdued flesh gives forth. “Lie not one to another.” Satan was a liar and a murderer; we are to put off lying and violence. Put these off, because “you have put off the old man [faith has done it] and put on the new.” You have done with the old as to its very nature, you have put on the new; now do not bring forth the fruits of the old—the crab apples of the old stock. The new is “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” The new man knows God, and takes nothing as the right thing but what suits God. It is not merely an intelligent creature; he is not received in that way; but the Christian knows the love and holiness of God in Christ. It is the knowledge faith has of God. There is no measure of the path I am to walk in as a new man but God Himself. That is where the Christian is set. Act in the same spirit and character as He has shewn in Christ. Did He not shew grace to you when you were an enemy? Then you go and show grace. Was He not full of mercy to the unthankful? Then you go and do the same. “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Verse n. There is no motive, no life, no character but Christ. “Christ is all and in all.” I am not a Jew, a Gentile, or an Englishman; I am in Christ as to my life, and “to me to live is Christ.” What we are brought into is Christ, and our object is Christ, and nothing else whatever. The life was expressed in Him, and the power of it is in us as alive; we are brought into it by redemption, and Christ is the whole object and character of it. It is Christ subjectively in me, and objectively outside me. I get in Christ Himself the knowledge of God. He is Himself the image of God. Look at Christ, and you see it all in a man. Christ is everything, and He is in the Christian. The whole sphere of the life, and the object of the Christian, is Christ. Where Christ is the divine life, He is the object of the life. The Father’s love is fully revealed in Him too. Then what comes in most blessedly is, that I have His place.

Verse 12: “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved.” Was He not the “elect of God”? He was God’s beloved Son. Having thus brought in Christ, the apostle looks at what we are to put on in practice. “That is your place,” he says. You are the objects of God’s delight, holy and beloved; His nature is in you; now walk in the consciousness of it, and your heart will be in a state to put on these things that are suited to Christ. If Christ has put us into this place, He looks for fruit. He has cut the tree down, and it is the graft that now lives. Then, Paul says, shew all these blessed fruits. If Christ is my life, He is in me, and He is my object. Remember, he says, what you are before God; walk in the affections of it, in the consciousness of it. You are to have the sense of it, as a child has of its mother’s love. A child has the consciousness of the place it is in, and it ought to walk worthy of it, and please its mother; but it must have the consciousness of the place it is in first. It may do every duty without that; but it is only show, there is no heart in it. In Ephesians we get much the same thing: “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children”; go and act like your Father. Here it is another aspect of the same thing: “Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved.” There is the character of Christ, and you are in His place of relationship to God; let us see the spirit that belongs to such a place— the place of Christ in this world. It is hard to be put down, and trampled on; but that is what Christ had. “If when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable to God.” That is Christ’s character. Did He not do well, and suffer patiently? You do it. It is more important to keep Christ’s character than to keep my coat. That is the way it works in the heart. I do not expect righteousness in a world of sin; my business is to shew the character of Christ before the world—gentleness and meekness in a world of wrong— that is superiority. If a man vexes me, we are on the same ground. If I have the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of power, it lifts me above the flesh-But all this is not natural gentleness. He says, “Above all these things charity, which is the bond of perfectness”—the real love of God, that perfects a thing, and makes it divine; and not merely a gentle nature that we see constantly with no power to resist, no firmness of character, one who cannot say “no.” There are plenty of people to whom it is torture to say “no,” and where it would be grieving the Spirit not to say “no”; that is human kindness, not divine love. This bond of perfectness is a holy thing. Gentleness is very sweet to see, but it will not stand good in a world of temptation. If it is the grace of Christ, and I have divine love and power, I do go through it; for it is divine godly love and obedience.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”—with the spirit of peace, the Holy Ghost not grieved, peace is enjoyed with God in a conscience not injured. Then he adds, “Be ye thankful,” for I get everything from God. I cannot be thankful for everything if my will is not broken; but the moment I look to God as counting the hairs of my head, I glory in tribulation, and count it all joy, every trial and exercise. There is the Christian’s place—the place of Christ ruling in his heart, walking in peace through the world, thankful for everything he gets; it is for his good. Now he is to enjoy the things of his own world. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” That is the positive world into which you are brought—“The unsearchable riches of Christ.” It is not head knowledge, but spiritual things— “Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” We know God’s ways and thoughts in the wonderful word we have, and we have the mind of Christ. The men of the world sing in their enjoyment: you sing together to the Lord. Now the Christian is enjoying his own world with his heart’s affections. We get the rule for his conduct. It is very simple, very sweeping, and uncommonly satisfactory to the heart that really desires to do the will of God. “Whatsoever ye do, whether in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” If we look at that “Whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” it is bringing all the principle and motive for our conduct from the revelation of a Person who is everything to us, not forbidding things. We know in how many things during the week the question arises, Shall I do this or that? Not as to absolutely wrong things; but a person says, What is the harm of that? Are you going to do it in the name of the Lord? No! Then you are getting away from the Lord, and that is the harm—a great harm for the Christian. In taking a house, or buying a dress, in the way I manage my house, is it “in the name of the Lord Jesus”? What can we say? It is leaving the Lord out (not leaving Him altogether), and letting self in. That is what the will of the flesh is.

The Christian has the privilege in every-day things of doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. People ask if there is any harm in a concert of sacred music. It is a cheat of the devil. Ask if they are going in the name of the Lord Jesus. They know they are not thinking of Him. Some one says, Can you not come and see this beautiful scenery? God made it. I know He did. Are you going in the name of the Lord Jesus? It is the object, that is the thing. God sent honey to Jonathan when he was going through the wood, and he was refreshed by it. Very right and nice. But if he had been looking for honey, it would not have been fighting the Lord’s battles. There was to be no honey in the sacrifices; but if God sends it, it is right to be refreshed by it, and I am thankful for it. The question is—where the mind of the man is set and living. If a person is in earnest to do the will of God (and the Holy Ghost could not lead us in our own will to amuse and please ourselves, He is not down here for that), if a person is anxious to live to God, and no one else, he says, Give me a simple rule for the things that turn up every day. “Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Then I live with Him in the everyday things. Suppose my father wants this book put that way, and I put it this way; it may be of no importance, but it is a proof I do not care for my father. If the blessed Lord is all to me, I shall be seeking to do everything in His name. We may forget—alas! we do—but if it is on my heart to please a person, I do not forget. Suppose I am walking thus in everything, I shall taste more of Christ, and it will give fixed happiness, instead of grieving the Spirit for some foolish thing I shall not care for in a few years. I shall have Christ for my object in everything I do. We do think much of those we love in our conduct, and I shall have in my mind what He likes, if I love Him. That is what the Lord looks for as One who has loved us and gave Himself for us in grace.

As Christ is everything to me, and I have Him for my life, now I must walk in it, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. I am sure it is what makes us happy. We shall find what weak creatures we are, and that is humbling and very useful. There will be that walking with Him that gives the secret of His presence and counsel, as He says Himself, “I will manifest myself to him.” There is the positive living of the heart in the enjoyment of the Lord’s presence, in consequence of living for Him. Are we content to live like Lot, vexing ourselves with the evil we are amongst? or do we give it up, and joy to think of the time when the Lord comes and says, as He did to Abraham, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward”? Are we content if God says that? It was seen in Abraham’s walk. He was called “the friend of God”; and God says, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” The secret of the Lord was in his heart. We find then in what has been before us the remarkable expression of what the life of Christ is, and its workings in us; and it all starts with having put off the old man, and put on the new. God has fully revealed Himself in Christ, and we have received the divine nature. There we are put to understand in our souls what God is thus revealed—Christ the pattern of our walk, and Himself our strength for it.