Saturday, September 05, 2015

Not so free will - Colossians 3:1-4

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory." (Colossians 3:1-4)
Our lives are full of choices. When God created us, He created us with free will that we might be, of all His creation, those creatures free to choose what we might; that our love for God may not be out of compulsion but out of choice through the free exercise of our free will. Unfortunately, our free will, of late, has not been all that free. We have conditioned our will, through sins we have committed and sins committed towards us, to constantly choose for the wrong things. By choosing wrong we have become the slaves of wrong. Paul says that we have become "slaves of sin" (Romans 6:17) and some have gone so far as to be completely "seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron." (1 Timothy 4:2) Free will is great, but only insofar as you are free to command it.

What makes the Gospel "good news" is that we are now free in our free will. Free to say "Yes" and free to say "No". More than that, we are free to train our free will so that, once again, it will be conditioned and, in a real sense, automatic. However, this time, not towards sin but towards righteousness. Where we used to be slaves of sin now we can become slaves of righteousness. "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18)

It is our union with Christ in His death and resurrection that has given us new life and new liberty to our free will. In His death we have died to the world and its allurements and, in His resurrection, we have been given new life and a new apatite for heavenly things. Sometimes it is easy to forget this and easy to dismiss our new life and new liberty in Christ for, after all, we still look like we used to, we still talk like we used to, and, in many ways, we still think like we used to. Our new life in Christ is shrouded in mystery. It is a life that is hidden from view; hidden in Christ. Nevertheless, our new life is real and, one day, when Jesus returns, it will be made plane for all to see, even ourselves. Let us not dismiss what we have been given just because it has been hidden from natural eyes.

Having been given this new life and having been made free once again in our free will, Paul counsels us to to choose wisely; to choose for the things that are above. For now, we needn't worry as to what those things are, Paul will describe them later on in this chapter. For now, the issue is our affections. The King James Version of the Bible translates this verse as, "Set your affection on things above." (Colossians 3:2 KJV) However, the Greek word used here has more to do with the exercise of our mind than the longing of our emotions. It has less to do with desiring the things above than directing our mind, thought, interests, and consideration towards the things about. It requires the active participation of our minds as enlighten and directed by the will and purpose of God. Christianity is not a religion of feelings; it is not something that is felt. Rather it is a religion of thought, understanding, and behavior that is done in concurrence with those things that have been taught and revealed to us by God. It is a religion of internal action that produces external obedience. Let us therefore exercise our minds towards the things that are above and let those things be reflected through our lives in everything we do.

David Robison

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