Hopefully you're recognizing that the Apostle Paul wrote this Epistle so the faithful at Colosse "might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding". He then went on to reveal "the mystery... which is Christ in you, the hope of glory". Immediately following this he cautioned them to "beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy" which puts our attention on distracting shadows rather than the substance of Christ. He now gets to how we can experience a life of power as a result of the resurrection of Christ by dying to self. Since we've seen there is no way to get to God through external means, the only avenue is from within. We've known all along that the only way to be a Christian is to be like Christ. Now we'll learn how the more we change ourselves, the more Christ in us will become more visible.
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
ARE YOU SETTLING FOR THE BEST YOU CAN DO WITH "THINGS ON THE EARTH" OR SEEKING GOD'S BEST WITH "THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE ABOVE"? It all comes down to where you "Set your affection". Christ is seated "on the right hand of God" because He finished His work. "If ye... be risen with Christ" your main concern should "then" be to do the same. LIKE CHRIST, WE ARE TO COMPLETE THE WORK GOD HAS GIVEN EACH OF US TO DO. How can we find it out? We must "seek" it- we must desire it; we must find out what God has for us to do to further His kingdom. It was God's perfect will for Christ to come and die for Israel, no one else was meant to do that but Him. You must "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" in order to find out what your purpose for God is. IF YOU HAVE EMBRACED THE RESURRECTED CHRIST WITHIN YOU, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO ACHIEVE WHATEVER YOU WANT FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.
Everybody's looking for something, but for what purpose? As we look around at our people, so many are doing quite a few religious things different from one another, each claiming to be so much closer to God, and most of them don't even know His will for their lives. Is there one thing we can look at which will prove who's on the right track? According to Paul, it's based on what you "seek" and then "Set your affections on". In other words: THE DESIRE YOUR HEART IS SET ON PROVES WHETHER OR NOT YOU'VE TRULY BEEN CONVERTED.
Trying to interpret, or apply these verses literally, is ridiculous. For this is written in language that was clearly intended by Paul to be spiritually discerned. The first step toward embracing "Christ in you" is understanding personally whether or not you "are dead". Similiarly, in the Beattitudes, Christ spoke of us being "poor in spirit" or that we are naturally bankrupt when it comes to spiritual things. This is the same idea here, using death instead to describe our state.
To "be risen with Christ" you must first be "dead". Resurrection isn't necessary or even possible otherwise. If you've never acknowledged your death, then you've surely never acknowledged the need to be risen. Even if you've learned true teachings about God from the Bible, that still doesn't alleviate the fact that you must acknowledge your death. You must accept the need for Christ within you to arise. THE GOOD NEWS IS CHRIST HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE. But thinking there is something you can or must do is still just another way of denying you are dead, for dead men can't do anything, especially when it comes to pleasing God.
Once you've accepted your death, being risen in Christ is just a matter of consciousness; of Christ being in you as your only hope. Being risen with Christ has nothing to do with anything outside of yourself, including more knowledge or rituals, there's nothing you can do. Realize there is nothing you can do but surrender: "For ye are dead, and your life" or the only future (any of us have which could ever count for anything) "is hid with Christ in God." It all goes back to the fact that all you need is to become more conscious of Christ in you, Who of course is God. EVERYTHING OUTSIDE OF CHRIST IN YOU IS TO BECOME DEAD UNTO YOU.
Christ has a kingdom with specific purposes to fulfill as He "sitteth on the right hand of God". After He actually rose from the dead and ascended, the work He Himself was here to do was completed, signified by Him sitting down. Whatever work God has to do now on this earth will be carried out by those who are "risen with Christ". You can know for sure if you're one of these by what it is you now want out of this life. To "seek" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #2212 which is simply desire. Do you desire "those things which are above"- the kingdom of God and His righteousness, which is all in you thru Christ? Do you seek things which can only happen through Christ?
We prove whether we've been "risen with Christ" by a change of appetite or what we seek; we cannot help it. What you desire comes from what you "Set your affection on" which is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5426, to interest oneself. This speaks of your motive or reason for what it is you desire. If your interests and motives in this life have never changed to "things... above", you're just the same old dead corpse you've always been, indicating you've never risen to live for Him. THIS MAY VERY WELL BE THE WAKE UP CALL YOU NEED. For only Christ's words have the power to wake anyone up, Him being the Resurrection and the Life.
Christ also spoke of the importance of knowing what it is you want and why you want it, previously in The Sermon on the Mount with, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also". If your affection has passed from being "things on the earth" to "those things above", what really made the difference is you finally just got tired of being dead. Finally sensing a lack of fulfillment in your life, especially if you've been heavily involved in studying the Scriptures, proves deep down you have a yearning for something more which only came down from above, namely Christ in you.
If you are therefore in search of "your life", look no further- it is only in Christ: "When Christ who is your life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." HAS YOUR LIFE SHOWED UP YET? You'll know it when you are surrounded by the glory of God. For when you realize how dead you really are and begin to seek and set your affections on what's above, one day the life you've asked God for will arrive and you'll know it only took place through Christ Who has risen from within you.
What do you really want to accomplish in this life and for what reason? If it is things from above, then one day they shall appear. Here is an invitation to a whole new life, but you must first want to change yourself. If you truly die to self, Christ in you one day "shall appear".
Being risen in Christ is realizing He is the only "life" for you. That He "shall appear" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #5319 which is to manifestly declare. Being "dead", people don't see you, they see "Christ". After you have died and Christ has risen in your place, there will be no doubt in anyone's mind that Christ is in you because evidence "shall appear". Before this outcome is possible however, Paul points out what we each must do:
5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
A POINT OF GREAT CONCERN IS WHITE PEOPLE LIVING AND ACTING SO MUCH LIKE THE WORLD. Of course both the shame and danger of this becomes even clearer once we understand the racial aspect of the Gospel. Yet just seeing it and wanting to point out all the problems all the time isn't enough. Some think the answer is thru politics or religious conformity, wanting to force change externally on everyone else. Yet Paul has already shown how external shadows even from the Bible are what ultimately can keep us from the substance of Christ within. In addition, our race continues to experience failure after failure, with so much religion and politics running out of our ears, as our race continues getting further and further away from God. Therefore it isn't promoting forced, external change for the masses that's the answer, but self-imposed internal change by aligning your motives and desires with Christ's.
What's at the heart of this is each of us changing ourselves to having godly desires and motivation. Therefore, the only way to change from being as "the children of disobedience" is to "Mortify... your members"- you must change yourself. STOP DENYING THAT YOU NEED TO CHANGE AND BEGIN SEEING THE POWER OF CHRIST IN YOUR LIFE TO CHANGE. As you will see, all of these things Paul lists have to do with either the mishandling of desires, having the wrong desires, or having the wrong motivations. Paul is not just establishing a list of external things not to do, but the way we actually "walked some time" with the wrong motives and/or desires. Paul lists how we've fallen short, settling for things which are of this world and not of things above, all of them resulting in "idolatry".
The list begins with "fornication" and "uncleanness", which we know involve different levels of interaction with non-whites and the world, up to illicit sex. Then we have "inordinate affection" which is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #3806, meaning lust. This "evil concupiscence" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #2556 and #1939 meaning injurious... longing. This would be similiar to lust except it causes actual injury and problems for others. Then there's "covetousness" which is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4124, greediness. Greed is flesh-oriented of course and must be put to death whether it be in wanting what someone else has or otherwise. Paul concludes with "idolatry", Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1495 which is image worship. Once we peel back the layers, it all comes down to "idolatry"; us wanting something outside of God. People even try to use things to construct their own concepts of God, which obviously is idolatry as well.
Once we acknowledge our relationship to Christ and get our desires and motives set for God's best in our new life, we still have this old flesh to deal with on a daily basis. Paul challenges us even further that "If ye then be risen with Christ... Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth." In other words, Paul is saying that if you know you are truly dead and that Christ is your life now, then you should have no problem daily putting to death your fleshly nature. EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU THAT ISN'T CHRIST, YOU WILL WANT TO CHANGE. This involves wanting to "Mortify your flesh" which is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #3499 meaning to deaden or put to death. Realize your life is no longer about what others think and settling for 'the hand you've been dealt'. In a practical sense, it's about seeking to change everything in your life that doesn't please God.
When whites refuse to change themselves, they shouldn't be surprised when they happen to be close to those to whom "the wrath of God" abides because of their "disobedience". Recognize what sin is. SIN IS ANYTHING THAT IS KEEPING YOU FROM TRUSTING IN GOD. This "disobedience" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #543 meaning, disbelief, which is the root cause of falling short of the glory of God or sinning. PEOPLE NOT FOLLOWING THROUGH WITH THEIR COMMITMENT TO CHRIST IS ROOTED IN REFUSING TO LIVE BY FAITH. It all begins by putting our fleshly tendencies to death. This further substantiates how whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Wanting the wrong things or wanting things for the wrong reasons are both symptoms of our disbelief. Mortifying our flesh is all we can do to make more room for God's desires and motivation to come into our hearts.
Stop counting on anything external to give you peace or bring you closer to God, for it only leads to disobedience to your Creator, which is nothing more than a lack of faith. THE REAL CHANGE IS FROM DISBELIEF IN SOME OUTSIDE GOD TO FAITH IN CHRIST IN YOU. This is Paul's description of "your" disbelief and how to change it. IF YOU REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR OWN CONDITION AND CHANGE, YOU WILL NEVER EXPRESS THE GLORY OF GOD AS YOU SHOULD. The only way to get rid of all these things is to mortify our flesh. It won't happen through observing external rituals or learning facts.
Just as Christ had to die in order to be raised up for us- we now must die in order for Him to be raised up in us. ONLY CHRIST COULD ACCOMPLISH WHAT HE DID FOR US AND ONLY YOU CAN CHANGE YOURSELF FOR HIM. When we have truly changed within, these things will incur our wrath when we recognize them arising within us again. When you've changed this way, you recognize there are certain things which are a part of your past that need to be left there. WANTING TO CHANGE YOURSELF FROM WITHIN IS AFFIRMING YOUR OWN DEATH BY DECLARING WAR ON YOUR FLESH. This is what we must do everyday to ourselves.
8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
If you found it difficult to understand Paul's former list of hard-to-recognize, carnal tendencies, "now" he gives us the list of bad attitudes we can readily identify within ourselves and "put off". There should be no delay, as Paul emphatically outlines the moment-to-moment emotions and attitudes we must change. Our deadness is exposed by toxic emotions; through wrong words we let come out of our mouths and by the ways we mistreat our brethren. Changing yourself means certain attitudes are "put off" and certain ones are "put on". Renewal begins on the inside and works its way out, reflecting Christ by the way we treat one another. Though there may be certain attitudes we take which may be considered justifiable at times such as "anger" and "wrath", they are difficult to control and should be a last resort. Why take a chance on letting things escalate to that point in your heart, as it could lead to "malice" or "filthy communication out of your mouth". These wrong attitudes need to be "put off" and away from us like a "filthy", smelly garment. We only change ourselves by changing our attitude which affects what we will and will not say and do to others.
This "malice" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #2549 which is just badness... trouble. Are there things you say or have said which you are ashamed of? Then just repent and stop doing them. Make up your mind you are not that person and you will not talk like that anymore. Obviously, it should be a given that we are not to commit "blasphemy" or "Lie not one to another". Yet it still seems to come so easy for even some who claim to be Identity Christians. With one for which lying comes so easy, that person has not changed and has seen no need to "put off the old man with his deeds". It is sad, but pretty easy to see, that one who can lie repeatedly, and so easily, has not been converted, and never has wanted to change. To lie is just not who you are any more if "ye have put off the old man with his deeds".
Here we see the ultimate purpose of "knowledge" isn't just for information's sake, but renewal- personal change. If knowledge, even from the Scriptures doesn't influence you to change yourself from within, then it's not having the intended affect. Once you have decided to put off the old man then you must "put on the new man". This putting off and putting on is like changing clothes. Yet this change doesn't happen from the outside in, but from the inside out- CHRIST IN YOU COMING OUT THROUGH YOUR DAILY LIFE. This knowledge renews your consciousness that Christ is in you, the hope of glory. One who truly comes to know they have Christ living inside them has the greatest opportunity for renewal available. The knowledge this renewal brings chips away at our ego day by day. Even the silly, little prejudices and stereotypes we have toward our white brethren who have different upbringings and backgrounds fall secondary to the knowledge we now have, that Christ is in them as well. Little things which used to mean so much, we will laugh at when we consider our new life in Christ. Remember, the change you're to make is in you, no one else. When others experience the new you- the power, the love, and the soundness of your mind, they will be challenged to change things within themselves.
Conversion leads to embracing Christ in you and in others, the new man puts off the carnal, religious, political identifications and divisions which we foolishly allow to seperate us as a race and as the body of Christ. We no longer want to look down on our brethren because of petty preferences. Nor do we lift ourselves up because of any seeming cultural or economic advantages. We know that each Israelite, whether he be "Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free" has Christ in them just like you do, whether they realize it or not. For "Christ is... in all" Israelites, no matter where they were born or what religious, educational, or social background they may have.
While we can appreciate the history and traditions of various white cultures or may even dislike some things about them, we are to never judge or look down on our brother based upon them. "Christ is all" that matters, especially when it comes to you changing. The more you change yourself the more aware you are that Christ's presence is in you. This is also the call to humble yourself, to have that servant's attitude toward your brethren:
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Again to "Put on" illustrates how changing yourself is like putting on clothes; it's a deliberate, practical decision and effort you make daily which others will notice. If you realize you are "the elect of God" then start acting like it. Stop assuming Christianity begins and ends at just becoming a thinking man. If what you've learned hasn't convinced you to change and that God expects something from you, then what you think you know hasn't reached your heart. THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST HAS THE POWER TO HELP US MAKE THE NECESSARY INNER CHANGES.
Overall, it could be said this is just another rendition of what we call in Paul's Epistle to the Galatians "the fruit of the Spirit". This can be who you are now, living from the inside out. We've seen what to "put off", but in order for the transformation to be complete, we must "Put on" the right attitudes as well. EACH OF US MUST ACCEPT WHO WE ARE. Maybe you've been put down, rejected, or even put aside all your life, possibly not even feeling worthy of God's blessings. Maybe you've been waiting and almost gave up on someone noticing you, wanting to give you that one big break. Each of us in some way has always wanted to be favored by somebody important- you always have been. You are " the elect of God" which is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1588, select... favorite... chosen by the all-powerful Being Who created the universe, Who is Love. HE FAVORS YOU SO MUCH THAT HE WANTS TO LIVE THROUGH YOU.
We show our appreciation for God's favor as the "holy and beloved" then, by living up to God's expectations. These "bowels of mercies" which we are to "Put on" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #4698, inward affection. We reflect God's favor by the way we treat our brothers and sisters who are also elect, holy, and beloved by God. Obviously this is a signficant part of putting on the new man along with "kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering". These are the attitude adjustments we must make in the way we treat others. One who once was easily offended and argumentative can become "forbearing... and forgiving" by putting on Christ. These are both proactive and reactive ways to "let the peace of God rule in your hearts".
One of the best indications of whether or not one has changed this way is by how high a priority he places on peace. Maintaining peace among brethren requires humility. If one isn't humble, he has not changed. If we've humbled ourselves, out demeanor alone encourages peace. Those who are called out by Christ to assemble together as believers prove their thankfulness to God by maintaining peace with others. Here "the peace" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1515 (to join)... prosperity... rest. Since Christ, the Prince of Peace is in you, so is His peace. But it is your personal choice to let it "rule" or have its way "in your hearts". When Christ brings His people together into "one body", we each become a part of one another. In other words, when we help one another, we are helping ourselves. When we hurt one another, we are also hurting ourselves. Selfishness doesn't belong in the body of Christ, as it causes confusion and division, threatening "the peace of God" that provides the ideal atmosphere for faith.
We're on the road to change when we accept that everything isn't always going to go the way our flesh wants it to, and that everybody thinks a little differently. This "Forbearing one another" is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #430 which is simply to put up with. We won't like every white person or everything done by those we do, but we should try to love one another as much as possible, and according to this, by trying to put up with them. A big part of changing ourselves is how we deal with others and wanting to have a better outlook towards our people. We are more prone to help others if we put on a forbearing attitude.
Can't you see what's at stake when it comes to the importance of us changing ourselves? Evidence you've been converted and know Christ is in you is seen through your personal motivation to change yourself and become more productive for the kingdom of God. This was the reason for Paul's labors and even this Epistle. He knew what it came down to was making common, everyday choices about how we are going to be. So many of our people, for so many reasons claim to be Christians. Paul says in affect, "Here's how you do it, now go out and prove it."