“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
Christians have a glorious position before God. As our text indicates, God has in effect already “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Yet, our actual spiritual condition here on Earth often seems to belie our exalted position in heaven, so we repeatedly need to be exhorted not only to believe the truth but also to live the truth. Theoretically, we are dead to the world, and our “life is hid with Christ in God,” yet we must continually be exhorted to “mortify [that is, put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Colossians 3:3, 5). We “have put on the new man” but nevertheless must repeatedly be “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (v. 10).
While in doctrine we are “complete in him,” in practice we must “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” yet each believer is commanded to “follow after righteousness” and to “work out your own salvation” (Romans 10:10; 1 Timothy 6:11; Philippians 2:12). We are “all the children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and we are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Paul prays that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (3:17), yet already we have “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
These truths are not contradictions, of course, but exhortations. “If” (and the Greek word actually means “since”) we are “risen with Christ,” then by all means we ought to live as those that are alive unto God! HMM