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Set Your Affections On Things Above

Bro. Mike Miller

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If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. - Col 3:1-4

The devil is very subtle and one of his best devices is not to get us to do evil, but simply to deceive us. He is at his best when it comes to deception, he is the father of lies, according to the Lord himself, he is the master deceiver. If he can simply make us think we are something we are not or that we are right with God when we aren’t, then he has accomplished what he wants. His desire is to tear down God’s name and Kingdom and raise up his own.

Now almost everyone thinks in their own mind that they are not deceived about themselves or their relationship and walk with God. They may admit faults and even sins, but they find it very hard to accept the possibility that they have been deceived about their Christianity. But when we read the Word of God and realize the description there of the Christian life, and the demands that God puts forth, and then begin to compare our lives, our priorities, and affections, we must admit that most of us are living in deception. The only way out of deception is light. Deception is darkness; it is confusion. You’re not certain, you are confused on matters — that is deception. When you have light, you see things clearly. There are no shadows, there is no doubt or confusion. You can see in the light; it is darkness that you can’t see in. The child of God is to walk in the light; we are the children of light.

Colossians 3:1 starts out with “IF ye then be risen.” That is a conditional statement. IF you are risen; IF you have been born into the family of God, then the following applies to you. There is a great difference between the lost and the saved. Before you were saved you didn’t care for the Word of God or the things of God. They were foreign to you and didn’t affect your life because you were dead to spiritual things. But after you were born into God’s family the Bible came alive to you and you came alive to the Bible. It speaks to you now and you respond to it now. You became a spiritual being and you now develop a spiritual life and you communicate with a spiritual being, which is God. After all, God can only be worshipped in spirit and in truth. You begin a spiritual battle that cannot be fought with carnal weapons. You cannot fight this battle with a fist or a knife or a gun. A .357 Magnum won’t shoot down a devil, so throw your guns aside, you can’t fight this battle with those weapons. So if you are going to accomplish what the following verses say there MUST be a resurrection; there MUST be a real change from one realm to the other. There MUST be a transition from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

So then, IF there has been a resurrection in your life, IF there has been a renewing of your mind, IF you are a new creature in Christ Jesus, and you aren’t the same person as you were before, you have some responsibilities to take care of. The old man is to die. You are not to help him, you are not to feed, you are to make NO PROVISION for the flesh whatsoever. Notice what verse 4 says, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” IF you are risen with Christ, then there is no more YOU. You are DEAD, and your life is hid with Christ in God. It is not YOU, and YOUR personal interests, and YOUR desires that you are supposed to pursue. All these things are supposed to be DEAD, INACTIVE, and NOT CONTROLLING YOUR LIFE — IF you have been risen with Christ. You are to be UNRESPONSIVE TO SELFISH INTERESTS. All the selfish motives, and selfish desires, everything that is YOU, and everything that YOU would like to have, that YOU would like to do, that YOU would like to accomplish — all that is to be PUT TO DEATH. Your life is HID WITH CHRIST, and YE ARE DEAD. The physical man is not to have preeminence in your life now, it is to be the SPIRITUAL man.

The problem we all have is that we try to live in both realms at the same time and God says we cannot do that. We can’t serve God AND mammon, or God AND ourselves. We are not our own, but we have been bought with a price, and we are to glorify God in our body and our spirit, which are the Lord’s. (1Cor. 6:20) We gave our life to Christ when we got saved — that used to be the terminology we used, and it is correct, by the way. You cannot get saved and keep your life, your desires, your goals, your motives — Jesus said so. Some might say, “well, I know some people who are saved who live that way.” Not if they have been risen with Christ, they don’t; they can’t — not according to the Bible. IF we have been risen with Christ, we have become a spiritual being and we are to change our affections, our desires, and our motives for living and doing what we do. IF we have been risen with Christ, we are seek those things which are above, and to set our affection on things above, NOT on things on the earth. IF you are a spiritual being now, your main interest is not the things on the earth. The things that guide your life and influence your decisions are not things on the earth, or your selfish desires and motives.

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (Mat 6:31-32)

The “Gentiles” here represent the lost people of the world. We are told that THEY seek after all these things. That is where their interests are, that is the way they live, and that is what their minds are occupied with. That is what they spend their energy and lives pursuing. Worldliness is not simply going after pornography, drunkeness, immorality, etc. The most dangerous kind of worldliness is not those things, but these same things that the Gentiles seek after — houses, clothes, and everyday living. He doesn’t mention bathhouses here, or houses of ill repute, but just the everyday concerns of living and keeping up in the world that you spend more time thinking on, more energy working toward, and have more interest in than the things of God. These things should not control you or influence your decisions or your walk with God. They should not be in the forefront of your thinking or your interests.

The word “affection” in Colossians 3:2 means your interests. It means your mindset; the things which you place your greatest desires to; your goals, your greatest passion — set them on things above, NOT on things on the earth. Yet we look around at each other and find that we are all caught up in buying and acquiring material possessions. Most people who claim to be Christians live almost exactly the same as the “Gentiles” in this respect. They live from “new thing” to “new thing.” If you compared the time you spend seeking after things on the earth to the time you spend seeking after spiritual things, how would you rate? How much time have you spent in the last week thinking on spiritual things compared to the time you have spent thinking on things on the earth? “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” That is, out of the overflowing abundance, whatever it is full of, that is what will come out of the mouth. Now let me ask you, what do most professing Christians want to talk about most, things above, or things of this earth? How many Christians have pearls to cast before you now? All they have is junk of this world: “Look what I’ve got,” “Look what I’ve done,” “Look what I’ve bought,” or “Look where I’m at now.”

“Train up a child in the way he should go…” What do most Christians train their children to set their affection on, things above, or things on the earth? Do they not emphasize education and career, and all the things necessary in order to acquire and achieve in THIS world? We point them in that direction and give them a big shove and then wonder why they have so little interest in the things of God. We teach our girls to look nice and act right, but not to be spiritual. We teach the boys to work hard and gain a position in this world, but we don’t teach them to be spiritual. We teach our children to take thought on what they eat, what they wear, and wonder why they don’t set their affection on things above.

The fact is, you really don’t have to give much thought to eating, because you WILL eat. You won’t be hungry long and you WILL eat. You don’t have to give much thought to what you will wear. IF you are risen with Christ the Holy Ghost within you won’t let you put on things that are not right, and He certainly won’t let you go without clothes.

Why are Christians defeated and empty of joy and excitement about the things of God? They base their entire lives and invest all their energy and strength on things that God says are going to rot and rust and decay, and neglect the things that God said they should set their affection on. What do you give your best effort to, things above, or things on the earth? Do you get up a spiritual person in the morning or do you resurrect the old physical man every morning? Is the main interest of your heart God, who gave himself for you, or is it your own selfish desires and interests? Surely it is a deceived person who lives for self and thinks himself a Christian on his way to an eternity filled with things that he cares no more for now than the lost people do.

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