September 19 I Monday
2 Corinthians 11:16-33
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” —Colossians 3:1
There is a civil war taking place within every Christian between the flesh—the old, sinful nature inherent in all humanity—and the Spirit, who places in us a new nature when we believe in Christ. The old nature is rooted in earthly things, while the new nature is rooted in heavenly, spiritual things. They oppose each other, Paul explains: “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh” (Galatians 5:17). As believers, though we desire to live by the Spirit, we are fighting our default position of living by the flesh.
This is why Paul reminded the Colossian Christians to set their hearts on things above. We cannot live the Christian life by the old nature, nor can we evangelize or sanctify it. We must crucify the old nature, depending instead upon the Spirit and developing discipline in three specific areas to let the character of Jesus Christ be expressed through our lives.
Firstly, Paul says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2), which happens as we read Scripture. To know the Word of God is to know the mind of God, and to know the mind of God is to know the heart of God. If our Christian diet is limited to hearing a weekly sermon, we are starving ourselves of spiritual nourishment and will likely not look to Christ to guide and instruct us during the week. Daily personal reading and wrestling with Scripture is the best way to set our minds on both what is true and why it is true.
Secondly, because our old nature is at war with our new nature, we are to discipline our will. Though Christ is slowly conforming us to His character, the flesh remains drawn to sin and temptation. We must set our will on higher things by intentionally putting to death sexual immorality, lust, greed, anger and all the other desires inconsistent with our new nature.
Thirdly is the discipline of our emotions. Paul told the Colossians, “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another....And over all these virtues, put on love” (Colossians 3:12-14). The Christian life is not a cold set of steps where our mind and will are disconnected from God’s heart. We must also let ourselves be moved, empathizing and showing Christlike compassion to the lost and the broken.
The war between our natures is ongoing, but as we set our mind, will and emotions on things above, our new nature will influence more and more of our life and affect everything we do.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help me develop a discipline of my mind, will and emotions, set on things above, so that Your Spirit comes to be increasingly expressed through me. Thank You, God.