1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
“If then you were raised with Christ…”
That has to be one of the most amazing sentence-starters ever. “If then you were raised with Christ…” is the ultimate game changer. Paul’s use of the word “if” here doesn’t suggest “maybe or perhaps.” He has said already, in Colossians 2:12-13, “you were buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
He died. We died. He was raised. We were raised. Past tense.
But if someone asked you, “What does it mean to be raised with Christ?” would there be a long pause? When I can’t articulate what something means, I like to study the concepts and the words in their original Biblical languages. In this case, the Greek word, to “be raised with,” sunegeiro (soon-eg-i’-ro), contains within it not only the idea of being resurrected from the dead, but also being raised up from sitting, lying, from disease, obscurity, inactivity and ruins.
I love this word because in it is both the expectation of a resurrection into heaven when we die, and the hope of resurrection power available to us unto health, wholeness and vitality while we remain here.
So Paul is saying if this incredible metamorphosis has happened, then do something! Do what?
“Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1) Thankfully, Paul tells us how to do that, in the next verse:
“Set your minds on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col 3:2)
I think this is the missing piece of the puzzle and the key to entering into a life of vigor and purpose. If we’ve been raised with Christ, we must have a totally different thought life. The mind is the key operator in our resurrected life. And our mind’s eyes must not be focused downward, on our earthly circumstances, but upwards, towards the risen Christ.
This is not something that happens automatically. We think it should; it certainly would be easier! But we were raised as freewill-beings, and our minds have to be purposefully set on knowing Him in order to see resurrection transformation.
In Greek, the mind, dianoia (dee-an’-oy-ah), is defined as our deep thoughts, our imagination and our understanding. When Jesus died for us, we were separated from God, and the key agent of our alienation from Him was our minds. Colossians 1:21 explains: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.”
It is never God who needs to be reconciled to us; it is we who need to be reconciled to Him. God’s ways and thoughts and steadfast love toward us are unchangeable. Strong’s says, “Not once is God said to be reconciled. The enmity is alone on our part. It was we who needed to be reconciled to God, not God to us…The hostility is not on the part of God, but man.”
We were “alienated in our minds by wicked works.” What are wicked works? In the original Greek, they are described as hurtful, ill, diseased, guilty, influenced by evil, toilsome, anguished, painful, starving or poor thoughts. Our fleshly minds think toilsome, impoverished, harmful, diseased, painful, starved-of-life-or-quality kinds of thoughts.
But our resurrected minds have a whole new set of thoughts to think based on the inescapable truth of the love of God for us. We can think thoughts centered on God's Word, His will, His promises, and His undying love for us. This love is revealed in Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice was so complete that, after His death and resurrection, we were presented to God as “holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight.” (Col 1:22) We are His elect, holy and beloved. (Col 3:12)
Our Father wants us to know Him, to be filled with the wondrous truth of who He is. He wants us to receive the superabundant love He has for us. So, since we were indeed raised with Christ, let’s have a thought life that is befitting this reality and privilege. Let’s set our minds on things above, not on our earthly circumstances, but instead on the One who holds those circumstances in His hands, and promises us He has resurrected us to new life.
Strong, James and John R. Kohlenberger, III, The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Red Letter Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), G4891.
 Ibid., pg. 131.
 "Wicked,” or poneros (pon-ay-ros’) in Greek [G4190] means hurtful, ill, diseased, guilty, influenced by evil. It’s rooted in the word ponos (pon’-od), [G4192] meaning toil, anguish, pain. This root can be traced further to the word penes (pen’-ace), which means starving or poor [G3993]. The word “Works,” ergon (er’-gon), means to toil (as an effort or occupation) [G2041].