Charles Simeon Commentary - Colossians 3:3 - 3:4

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Colossians 3:3 - 3:4


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THE EXALTED STATE OF A CHRISTIAN

Col_3:3-4. Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

INNUMERABLE are the advantages which revelation gives us over the heathen philosophers: for, whilst it discovers to us a much sublimer rule of conduct than they were able to devise, it affords motives sufficient to incline us to duty, and teaches us where to obtain strength for the performance of it. The duty it enjoins is nothing less than a supreme delight in heavenly things: but at the same time it animates us by the consideration of the privileges we enjoy and the prospects we have in view. What the Christian possesses in these respects may be seen in the words before us: in which we notice,

I.       His exalted state—

The Christian is a paradox; being both dead and living at the same time. He is “dead”—

[Once he was alive wholly and entirely to legal hopes and carnal enjoyments: but now is dead to both. He now sees that he has no righteousness of his own for his justification before God, and no strength of his own for the fulfilment of God’s holy will: he therefore renounces all dependence on himself, and seeks righteousness and strength in Christ alone [Note: Isa_45:24.] — — —

As for the enjoyment of the things of time and sense, he has the same capacity for it as ever; but he has lost his inclination for it, and no longer seeks his happiness in it. He feels the emptiness and vanity of all sublunary good: and, whilst he is thankful for the portion of it that is committed to him, he regards the whole world as an object that is crucified, and is himself crucified unto it [Note: Gal_6:14.] — — —]

Yet is he alive in a far higher sense than ever he was before—

[He has in Christ a “life,” whereby he is enabled to live unto his God, and to walk in the paths of holiness and peace — — — This life is “hid with Christ in God;” so that, whilst the world seeth it not, Satan is not able to destroy it. When Adam had life, so to speak, in his own possession, his great adversary prevailed over him and slew him: the believer therefore is placed beyond the reach of Satan’s efforts, and has his life treasured up in heaven, whither Satan has no access, and in God, over whom he can have no power — — — Indeed Christ himself liveth in the believer [Note: Gal_2:20.], and is “his very life.” What the soul is to the body, that is Christ to the believer’s soul, acting in all its faculties, and operating in all its energies — — — And hence the believer, however dead he is in himself, is enabled to live in a way that no other creature in the universe can live.]

But the believer must be yet further viewed by us in,

II.      His glorious expectations—

The Saviour, though once as unknown by the world as they, and still more despised, shall one day appear again in glory—

[The time is fast approaching, when he shall descend from heaven in his own glory, and in the glory of his Father and his holy angels. Whilst he was upon earth, his glory was, for the most part, veiled. A little of it sinned forth on Mount Tabor; and his own more immediate followers “beheld somewhat of his glory, as the glory of the only-begotten of the Father.” But “the world knew him not:” “the darkness could not apprehend his light:” but in the day of judgment his appearance will be such as becomes his august character, so that he will be equally acknowledged by all, whether friends or enemies, as “King of kings and Lord of lords” — — —]

Then will the whole assembly of believers appear with him in glory—

[They will be gathered from every quarter of the globe “to meet their Lord in the air,” every one of them with “bodies like unto his glorious body,” and souls like unto his glorified soul: for they will be altogether “like him, when they shall see him as he is [Note: 1Jn_3:2.].” They will then appear as monuments of his grace, as trophies of his victory, as heirs of his glory. Truly he will be admired and glorified in them, when it shall be seen what sovereignty he has exercised in the choice of them, and what power he has put forth for their salvations [Note: 2Th_1:10.]. It will then be seen, not that they triumphed, but that he triumphed for them, (upon his cross [Note: Col_1:15.],) and over them, (by his converting grace [Note: Psa_45:5. 2Co_10:5.],) and in them, by the sanctifying efficacy of his Word and Spirit [Note: Joh_10:28.] — — — Then will they be seated with him upon his throne, and as “joint-heirs with him” be partakers of his kingdom for evermore — — —]

Of this the present state of their souls justifies an assured expectation—

[The connexion between the two parts of my text must on no account be overlooked. Both “the death” of the saints, and “their life” warrant an assurance, that they shall reign with Christ in glory. Who can hurt the soul of one that is dead? So neither can any one destroy a soul that is “dead to sin:” in both cases, the soul is hid with Christ in God, Again, when our life was committed to the keeping of the first Adam, he, though perfect, and in Paradise, suffered it to be wrested from him by the subtilty of Satan. To prevent a recurrence of such a calamity, our renewed life is not committed to our own care, but is treasured up in the second Adam, and is hid with Christ in God, out of the reach of any enemy. Who then shall prevail against us? Not all the powers of earth or hell shall effect our ruin: “our life being hid with Christ in God,” we are placed beyond the reach of evil; and therefore may be sure, that when he shall appear again to judge the world, we also shall appear with him in glory. This seems to be the true import of the passage; and nothing less than this will adequately convey to our minds the security and blessedness of a believing soul — — —]

Address—

1.       Let believers be sensible of the distinguished mercy vouchsafed unto them—

[“Who is like unto you, O people saved by the Lord?” Behold the unregenerate world: they are “dead,” it is true; but to what are they dead? Not to self, but to God and to every thing that concerns the soul; whilst you are dead to the law, and to sin, and to the world, and alive unto God, through Jesus Christ. Light and darkness are not more different from each other, than is the spiritual from the natural man, and the regenerate man from him that remains dead in trespasses and sins. And who has put the difference between you and the unbelieving world? Who has made you children of God and heirs of glory, whilst so many millions of your fellow-creatures have the wicked one for their father, and everlasting misery as their portion? Verily, if you do not bless and adore your God, and rend the air with your hosannahs, the very stones will cry out against you. ]

2.       Let them endeavour to walk worthy of their high calling—

[This is the entire scope both of the preceding and the following context. “Set your affections on things above,” “for ye are dead,” &c. Then after the text it is added, “Mortify therefore your members upon earth.” This should be the effect of all God’s mercies to us: and I call on every one who professes to have received life from Christ, to give evidence of that life, by “walking in all things as Christ walked” — — —]