Setting Our Minds — Lord’s Day 17
// March 7th, 2012 // Sermons
“Girl tell me how you feel, what your fantasy oh, I see us on a beach down in Mexico. You can put your feet up, be my senorita. We ain’t gotta rush just take it slow. You’ll be in the high life. Soaking up the sunlight. Anything you want is yours. I’ll have you living life like you should. You say you never had it so good” So Good by B.o.B.
“Yellow diamonds in the light, As we’re standing side by side, As your shadow crosses mine, What it takes to come alive” We Found Love by Rhianna
“Uh, and now I don’t even care Cause it’s me and my team and here’s gonna be some weed in the air Tell ‘em Mac Blowin everywhere we going and now you know one when I step right up Get my lighter so I can light up That’s how it should be done Soon as you thinkin you’re down Find out how to turn things around, nothing’s looking up From the ground up, pound up, this Taylor Gang So turn my sound up, and round up and do my thing Now I’m chillin, fresh out of class filling Like I’m on my own and I can probably own a building Got …., no job, no children Had the science project Me and Mac kill it THC MAC DEV HD3 Hi, it’s me This is us, we gon’ fuss We gon’ fight, we gon’ rollin Live our life So what, we get drunk So what, we smoke weed We’re just having fun We don’t care who sees So what, we go out That’s how its supposed to be Living young and wild and free” Young, Wild, and Free by Snoop Dogg & Wiz Kahlifa
As you listen to these lyrics, what do you hear in them? Some of you may jump to the drugs, sex, and alchohol in the song, but that’s not what I am looking for. So, if that isn’t what I am looking for, then what it is? Is there something else that you see in these songs? What about all of the other songs on the top 100? One of the biggest ways to understand where your culture is, is by looking at their music. So what do these songs tell us about our culture–about the U.S.? What do these songs tell us about our end goal? I’m going to let you think on that for a bit and we’ll move on to our passage for today.
Today we are looking at Colossians 3:1-4. And this passage has the ability to change everything, if you let it. If you understand what it says and do what it is directing you to do, it will change everything. The challenge of this verse isn’t the understanding part, necessarily, but the doing part. Let’s take a look at it.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”
This verse tells us three things. First, it tells us what to do. Then, it tells us what not to do. Lastly, it tells us why we should and shouldn’t do those things.
I want to start off by talking about what we should not do. This passage says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” It says that you shouldn’t set your mind on things that are on earth. What does that really mean? Is that really possbible? Is Paul really trying to tell us that we should never think about earthly things? Not really, but kinda. Paul isn’t saying that we shouldn’t ever think about earthly things, that would be impossible as long as we are living on earth. What Paul is saying is that we shouldn’t SET our minds on earthly things. What’s the difference?
Let’s look at a couple of other bible passages that talk about “setting our minds” on earthly things.
Right after Peter confesses Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus tells the disciples that he is going to suffer and be killed and that he would also rise from the dead on the third day. Peter didn’t like this so he rebuked Jesus–he had some choice words with him because he couldn’t imagine that the Messiah was going to die. Then Jesus says this: “But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” Matt 16:23. Peter was called Satan and was called a hindrance to the Messiah. Why? Because he was setting his mind on the things of man.
Here’s another verse from Phillipians. “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Phil 3:18-19 . This verse is talking about those who are walking as enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul describes them with three different qualities. First, he says that their god is their belly. What do you think that means, that their god is their belly? It means that they worship their desires. If they crave something, they do it. Secondly he says that they glory in their shame. Not only do they do shameful things, but they also brag about doing them. They glory in them. Have you ever met anybody like that before? I know I have! Then he wraps this description up by saying that they do both of these things with their minds set on earthly things. These are the things that happen as we set our minds on earthly things.
The final passage is from Romans 8. It says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Rom 8:5-8. This passage gives us the most vivid description of the consequences of setting our minds in earthly things. It says that “to set the mind on the flesh [or earthly things] is death.” It says that the mind that is set on these things is hostile to God and it cannot please God.
So after all of that, what does it look like to “set our minds” on earthly things. It is looking for our ultimate fulfillment, our ultimate satisfaction, our ultimate enjoyment in the things of earth. To set your mind on these things is death, and as a result you cannot please God. Do you realize how many people don’t understand this? They are always looking for the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect boyfriend, the prefect whatever and they are always chasing the perfect life. Their minds are set on earthly things.
David Brainerd was a missionary quite a while ago and I think he had some powerful words that spoke to this point. He said, “Never expect any satisfaction or happiness from the world. If you hope for happiness in the world, hope for it from God, and not from the world. Do not think you shall be more happy if you live to such or such a state of life, if you live to be for yourself, to be settled in the world, or if you should gain an estate in it: but look upon it that you shall then be happy when you can be constantly employed for God, and not for yourself; and desire to live in this world, only to do and suffer what God allots to you. When you can be of the spirit and temper of angels who are willing to come down into this lower world to perform what God commands them, though their desires are heavenly, and not in the least set on earthly things, then you will be of that temper that you ought to have.” Never expect any satisfaction or happiness from the world. Never! If we go back and listen to the lyrics to those songs, that is what they are doing. They continue to point to the world, and the things of this world, for ultimate joy, or ultimate fulfillment. They say things like, “Anything you want is yours. I’ll have you living life like you should. You say you never had it so good” or “As your shadow crosses mine, What it takes to come alive” or “That’s how it should be done Soon as you thinkin you’re down Find out how to turn things around….That’s how its supposed to be Living young and wild and free.” Is that really where we are to look? Sitting on a beach drinking a margarita with your feet up, that’s ultimate happiness? What happens when it runs out? When the cup is dry or it starts raining? What about a storm? All of those things that make life “so good” are fleeting; they are temporal; they will never last. How about coming alive when a hot guy’s shadow crosses yours? Sure, you can see someone who is good looking and your heart begins to race and you may feel alive for the first time, but how long? Is that “aliveness” going to last forever? What happens when they leave, or when they get angry with you? Do you still feel alive? How about turning your life around by smoking weed and getting drunk? That always works right? I don’t even have to go any farther with that one. You all know that you will always be chasing your first high, from the time you start till your life falls apart. That high never lasts, and always leaves you longing for more.
I will be the first to tell you that this isn’t an easy task to undertake. It will be the greatest struggle of your life because you are completely surrounded by people, inside and outside the church, who are telling you that happiness is right here on earth; that as long as you get a good job, marry your “soul mate,” and have a nice house, you’ll be happy. A guy named Alexander MacLaren said, “I am afraid that the Christian life of this generation suffers at a thousand points, because it is more concerned with the ordering of the outward life, and the manifold activities which this busy generation has struck out for itself, than it is with the quiet setting of the mind, in silent sunken depths of contemplation, on the things that are above. Oh, if we would think more about them we should aim more at them; and if we were sure that we possessed them today we should be more eager for a larger possession tomorrow.” We live in a society that gets busier and busier all the while making it harder and harder for us to take our minds off of earthly things. The more things that we are managing (school, work, sports, friends, chores, homework, pets, hobbies, fishing, reading, etc…..) the easier it is for our mind to be drawn towards earth. We have a large challenge and a large hurdle to overcome, but luckily we have a large God that is walking alongside of us.
Now to the thing that Paul tells us to do. He says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” We are to do the opposite of what he was just telling us not to do. We are to set our minds on heaven–on Christ. Calvin says, “Let your whole meditation be as to this: to this apply your intellect – to this your mind.” Apply all of your meditation, you intellect, your mind away from earthly things and towards things above–towards Christ. Hebrews 12:1-2 calls us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” We are to run the race with endurance and what are we supposed to be doing the whole time we are running the race? We are to be looking at Jesus. We are supposed to keep our eyes focused on him while everything else is happening around us. He is the reason we are running the race; He is the only way that we will finish the race; and He is the only reason that we could run the race in the first place. Keep your eyes focused on Him!
There are so many people who try to run this race looking at their feet, or looking at the people around them, or whatever and they can’t figure out why they are having a hard time running it. There are so many Christians today that desire to love God with all of the their heart, soul, mind, and strength but can’t figure out why they are unable to do it. They aren’t able to do it because their mind isn’t set on Christ, it’s set on the earth. They are so caught up in the everything around them that they get lost half way through the race and they wander off. You will never have a good relationship with Christ if your mind is set on earthly things. You will never have a love for Him. You will never grow in your faith. You will never experience peace. Why do we expect to love someone that we never think about? or never spend time with?
If you want to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, set your mind on Him. You can’t force your emotions to do anything. You may try to bear down and feel love towards God, but it won’t work. The only think that you can affect is what you think about–what you set your mind on. It’s funny to me that I have come across these Psychology theories that talk about how your thoughts control your emotions and all these people thing this is ground breaking information. It’s true, but it isn’t ground breaking. The bible said it 2000 years ago. Then the reformers said it 300-400 years ago. It isn’t new by any means, but it’s true. If you want to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you must set your mind on Him. By setting your mind on Him your emotions will be set towards Him as well. MacLaren says, “If a man wants to love Jesus Christ he must think about Him. That is plain English. It is vain for a man to try to coerce his wandering affections by any other course than by concentrating his thoughts. Set your minds on the things that are above, and that will consolidate and direct the emotions; and the thoughts and the emotions together will shape the outward efforts. Seeking the things that are above will come, and will only come, when mind and heart and inward life are occupied with Him. There is no other way by which the externals can be made right than by setting a watch on the door of our hearts and minds, and this inward discipline must be put in force before there will be any continuity or sureness in the outward aim. We want, for that direction of the life of which I have been speaking, a clear perception and a concentrated purpose, and we shall not get either of these unless we fall back, by thought and meditation, upon the truths which will provide them both.”
Where is your mind set? Is it on earthly things or on Christ? When was the last time you meditated on heaven? on anything from scripture for that matter? Where is your mind at most of the time?
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” If we set our minds on this world, we will be conformed to it. If we set our minds on Christ we will be transformed. Where are you setting your mind? What needs to change?