Seek the things “FROM ABOVE”

lutherV.1. “If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.” 7 In other words: Seek and strive after what is above–the things divine, heavenly and eternal; not the terrestrial, perishable, worldly. Make manifest the fact that you are now spiritually raised and by the same power will later be raised bodily. 8 But does this mean that we, as Christians, are no more to eat and drink, to till the ground, to attend to domestic or public duties, or to engage in any kind of labor? Are we to live utterly idle, practically dead? Is that what you mean, Paul, when you say we are not to seek the things of earth, though all these are essentially incident to life? What can you say to the fact that Christ the Lord is, himself, with us on earth? for he said before his ascension to heaven (Mt 28:20): “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”; and also the baptism which he commands, the sacrament and the office of Gospel ministry whereby he governs his Church here–these are things of earth. 9 Paul, however, explains in the succeeding verse what he means by V.2. “things that are upon the earth” and V.2. “things that are above.” He is not telling us to despise earthly objects. He does not refer to God’s created things, all which are good, as God himself considered them; nor has he reference to the Christian who, in his earthly life, must deal with the things of creation. He has in mind the individual without knowledge of God; who knows no more, and aims no further, than reason teaches, that reason received from parents at physical birth; who is an unbeliever, ignorant of God and the future life and caring not for them; who follows only natural understanding and human desire and seeks merely personal benefit, honor, pride and pleasure. The apostle calls that a worldly life where the Word of God is lacking, or at least is disregarded, and where the devil has rule, impelling to all vices.Paul would say: Ye must be dead to a worldly life of this sort, a life striven after by the heathen, who disregard God’s Word and suffer the devil to have his way with them. Ye must prove the resurrection of Christ in you to be something more than vain words. Ye must show there is a living power manifest in you because ye are risen, a power which makes you lead a different life, one in obedience to the Word and will of God, and called the divine, heavenly life. Where this change does not take place, it is a sign ye are not yet Christians but are deceiving yourselves with vain fancies. 10 Under the phrase “things that are upon the earth”–worldly things–Paul includes not only gross, outward vices, sins censurable in the eyes of the world, but also greater immoralities; everything, in fact, not in accordance with the pure Word of God, faith and true Christian character.

Luther on Colossians 3

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