3 Marks Of A Christian: A Study On Colossians 3:1-17


There are many groupings and associations in the world today. These groups all have particular marks or characteristics that define them as distinct from others. It could be a country or a social club or even a religion. This equally is true for the Christian faith. When someone professes Christianity, how can we determine he or she is genuine? Or consider your own self; how do you know that your profession is genuine?

In Colossians 3:1-17 Paul provides us with about three marks of a Christian by which we may know if a person’s profession is genuine.

1. Heavenly Mindedness 
2. Fights Sin
3. The Peace of God

In today’s article, we will look at the first mark.

Heavenly Mindedness

A genuine believer is heavenly minded. Paul’s opening statement is a conditional argument, “if then you have been raised with Christ….” It is very important to notice the difference here. Paul is not saying that if you live like this then you will become a Christian. On the contrary, he is saying that it is because you say you are a Christian that I expect you to live this way. You don’t become a Christian by following a set of rules. Salvation is entirely a gift of God. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9).

The verse 1 says, “since you have been raised with Christ”; the question to ask is, “what does it mean to be raised with Christ?” Christ was crucified for the sins of the world, was buried and on the third day, He rose from the dead having defeated Satan and death: “By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Co. 2:14-15). Anyone who has repented of their sin and put their trust in Christ in effect has gone through this experience with Christ symbolically (Rom. 6:4). A Christian is therefore the person who has been raised with Christ. His old nature is dead and the New man has been ushered in. It is this new person that Paul is writing to.

Have you been raised with Christ?

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth(vv.1-2).

What Are Your Pursuits?

Seek the things that are above“… This reflects pursuit. We are all treasure seekers, we are always looking for something. Some seek money, others for success and others for a good reputation, achievements, happiness etc.

According to Paul, the Christian is seeking for treasures in heaven. What we set our minds on reveals a lot about what is in our hearts. Our pursuit is a window to our hearts. I may say that I am a Christian, how do you know my belief is genuine or not? Paul says here that one of the ways to know is to look at what I constantly set my mind and my pursuits in life on.  Are you heavenly minded? When we look at your ‘to do list’ will we see a person who prioritizes things that are eternal? Does your spending reflect the life of someone who believes that this world is not their home and that they are only stewards of these gifts?

What Occupies Your Thoughts?

Set your minds on things that are above“… This refers to what we constantly think about. In effect, it is the default mode of our minds. Where does your mind naturally drifts to? When you buy any electronic gadgets, there is an option under settings which says “reset to factory settings”. When you select this option, it returns all aspects of your gadgets to its original factory settings.

In the same way, the default setting of the Christian’s mind should be on things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. When you wake up in the morning, when you are in the traffic jam, when your day is done and reclining to bed. What is it that engages your mind?

So What Are The Things To Set Our Mind On?

Romans 14:17 gives us a glimpse into what Paul probably meant in Colossians 3:1. He mentions three things:”…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” We can safely conclude that when Paul tells us to set our minds and our hearts on things that are above, these are some of the things he is talking about. Is your life centered on righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit? Are you seeking to live a life that is marked by righteousness and holiness?

Why We Must Be Heavenly Minded

Paul tells the believers the reason why he expects them to live this way. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”(v.3). The Christian is dead to this world, and if that is the case we cannot live according to its standards any longer.  “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”(v.4). It is this hope of glory that makes the genuine Christian so fixated on Christ and his kingdom.

When we fully grasp what God has promised in Christ in the next world, nothing in this world will appeal to us. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Our treasure is in heaven, and that is why we must not be lured by the deceitfulness of sin. When Paul came to the full understanding of this, he said ‘…I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”. He also said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.

What about you Christian? Is it possible that you are not heavenly minded because you don’t have any treasure in heaven? As Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The second mark, “They Fight Sin” will be treated in the next post.

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