Last night after I read over again the last few verses of 2 Peter 2:20-22, I began to think of another verse. As Christians we have been taught this over and over again, and yet we still need the reminder. As those who are being worked on by the Holy Spirit to come to Jesus for salvation, they are in most danger of following a false teacher. So our message needs to give “not quite believers” or very new Christians a passage that shows them where to look for help.
In the 2nd chapter of Colossians, Paul also discussed the false teachings to avoid, as Peter did in our last chapter. Chapter 3 begins with a transition from these teachers into a description of legitimate spirituality, from the only true teacher: Christ. “Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col 3:1-2)
The goal is to live with an eternal perspective rather than a focus on the rules and regulations of this world. Rather than following a set of rules, Christians are to submit moment-by-moment to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Paul then explains why believers are to focus on eternal matters. Christians are to set their minds “above” because that is where Christ is. Christ is not on earth, or in the grave—He is at God’s right hand. This is consistent with the teaching of Jesus, and of the early church (Luke 22:69; Acts 2:33; 5:31; 1 Pet 3:22). Paul would also teach this message to the Romans (Rom 8:34). The book of Hebrews also emphasizes this location of honor for Jesus (Heb 1:3; 10:12; 12:2).
Repeating the theme of verse 1, Paul reminds us to keep their minds on godly, spiritual things. In this context, the “things of the earth” are associated with ungodly activities. For example a false approach is noted from the “things of the earth”: “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.” (Jam 3:15)
In contrast, “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy” (Jam 3:17). This doesn’t mean that believers should ignore all earthly concerns. It does, however, mean that believers ought to give their time and attention to things pleasing to God, rather than things pleasing to men.
I’ve been working on memorizing these two verses so that they are in my memory for the Holy Spirit to remind me where to look for guidance as needed. “Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col 3:1-2)