What does biblical motivation look like? In this article you’ll discover that there are three aspects of our union with Christ that Paul draws on to motivate the believers in Colossae to abandon false religion and to walk with Christ.
The motivation Paul provides is explained in Colossians 3:3-4. This article, and the sermon linked at the bottom follow on from this one from a couple of weeks ago.
These three motivations to walk with Christ relate to our past, our present and our future.
You died with Christ
Our salvation has both an objective and a subjective side. The objective side says that regardless of how we feel or what we do, we died with Christ. God considers us to have died with Christ and this is the foundation of our justification in Him. The death He died, we also died, and God considers His death as accounting for us also.
There is also a subjective side. This subjective side is based on the work of God in the heart of the believer. God’s work in us results in us responding affirmatively to His work. This takes place in baptism, where new believers declare that they have died to the world and live for Christ. This affirmation by the believer follows salvation, and thus is the heartfelt expression of a believer whom God has dynamically changed.
Paul is appealing to this subjective aspect of his readers. He is reasoning with them, that they died to the world (Col 2:20), they made a decision to die to the world. Therefore, it makes no sense to continue to submit to the world’s ways.
Your life is hidden with Christ
We don’t just die, but we are also raised. In fact, we die to the world in order to live for God. We cannot come alive to God without first dying to the world. There is no middle ground.We cannot come alive to God without first dying to the world. There is no middle ground. Click To Tweet
As was the case with dying with Christ, so too there is an objective and subjective aspect of our being raised with Christ. The objective side is seen clearly in the passive tense of Colossians 2:13. Where we were passive (except in our death), God made us alive (c.f. Eph 2:5).
The glorious truth of the New Testament is that Christ Himself is our life. We cannot have life without Christ, which is why John said, “He who has the Son has the life” (1 John 5:12). This is also why we have the indwelling Spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come primarily to empower us, to give us good feelings, to enable us to speak in tongues, to give us power or to give us freedom. The Holy Spirit mediates the life of Christ to us. Hence, if we do not have the Spirit of Christ, we do not belong to Him (Rom 8:9). This is why we had to die to the law (and to the world) so that we could be joined to Christ (Rom 7:4).
The Subjective Side
But in Colossians 3:3 Paul has in mind the subjective side. He is referring to the heart
“Your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
In other words, Paul is saying something close to what Jesus said when He said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). The focus of our heart determines the direction of our lives.
Paul is appealing to the Colossians (and to us) saying that because we’ve followed Christ, we have set our whole life, our heart and ultimately our desires on Christ, who is in heaven. Whatever we may want on earth, Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of it, and therefore we focus our heart on Him.Whatever we may want on earth, Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of it, and therefore we focus our heart on Him. Click To Tweet
Paul is not appealing to the feelings of these believers, but to their volition. He is calling them to a manner of living because of the commitment they made to die to the world and live for Christ. But Paul isn’t saying because God did this, you should walk with Christ. He is saying that after God identified believers with Christ in His death and resurrection, and brought them to life, these believers committed themselves to dying to the world and living for Christ. Therefore, why live according to the world’s system if we committed not to?
You will be revealed with Christ
Paul, however, looks forward to a time when the subjective and objective will combine. There is coming a day when believers will be united with Christ in a final sense.
Paul speaks of what is hidden being revealed. This requires several steps. The first is that we will put off the corruption of this world and we will receive an imperishable body. Today, we have a redeemed soul, but we still wait for the redemption of our body (2 Cor 4:16, Romans 8:23). Right now, when we die, the soul is torn from the body, but this wasn’t God’s intention. One day He will restore our body to our soul and they will both be redeemed and imperishable.The focus of our heart determines the direction of our lives. Click To Tweet
The resurrection of our bodies are only the first step. We will also finally be presented to the Lord. This is the point of Ephesians 5:27.
Presented to the Lord
…Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Eph 5:25-27)
Today, Christ is preparing His church for this day of presentation. This means that the indwelling Holy Spirit is only the beginning of what God is doing for His people (Eph 1:13-14). John describes the fullness of this presentation in Revelation 19:6-9, when he describes the marriage of the lamb. There we see the bride who “has made herself ready.” When we are finally presented to Christ, we will be with Him foreverWhy live according to the world's system if we committed not to? Click To Tweet
Revealed with Him
But this passage says we will be revealed with Him in glory. Just after the marriage of the lamb, John describes this revealing of Christ, in all His glory (Rev 19:11-16).
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True,and in righteousness He judges and wages war… And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following with Him on white horses.” (Rev 19:11, 14).
In this scene Christ is revealed from heaven as a conquering king with incomparable power. He is reavealed in glory. But He is not alone.
“The armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” accompany Him. We saw this same description with reference to the bride just a few verses earlier. So it appears, that at the second coming of Christ, redeemed believers, will have been raised and ultimately joined to Christ, and they will accompany Him and share in His glory. When Paul explains, “we will appear with Him in glory,” this is what He has in mind.
There is still more, but you’ll have to listen to the sermon.
These three points should motivate Christians to walk with Christ now. We died with Christ to the world (Col 2:20) and to the law (Rev 7:4). The result of this is that we intentionally live for Him day by day. The ultimate outcome is that we will share in the fullness of the glory of Christ. When Christ comes again, He will come to rule, to conquer and to reign, and we will share in this glory.
Paul appeals to these three realities to motivate you and I to walk with Christ now. When we seek the things above and think in accordance with the word of God (Col 3:1-2), and act accordingly, we are walking with Christ. Our motivation to walk with Christ comes from all God has done, including changing our heart, from all He is still doing, and with full awareness of what will come.
Listen to the sermon using the player below.
What motivates you to walk in holiness? Leave a comment below.