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“Priority of Christ” FBC Message Colossians 3:1-11



Colossians is one of Pauls prison letters, written to a new church in what is modern day Turkey. Colossae had been a leading city in the years prior, but at the time of Pauls writing and Epaphras planting the church there (Col. 1:7), it had become a market town.1 False teaching in the church meant Epaphras needed to make a visit back to his mentor Paul, now in Rome, where the letter was written.


Most of Paul’s letters in the bible to the various churches address multiple issues and challenges in church life, and Colossians is no exception. This was a church made up of mostly non-Jewish but much like the Galatian church, new Christians were being pressured through false teaching to follow Jewish laws and customs, philosophy and teaching on special knowledge…at the expense of the gospel Epaphras had taught them


Paul never tells us specifically what the exact issue is, it is only inferred from the text opposing the false teaching2. Paul’s purpose in this passage was to resource the Christians to fend off any false teaching spreading in the church, by upholding the truth of the gospel, making the point that Jesus alone is all-sufficient. There is no substitute to Jesus or the good news.


(READ Col. 3:1-11)


The 3 main points:

  • Our Position in Christ, this is who we are
  • 2ndly, because of who we are in Jesus, we need to put to death what is not of Christ
  • 3rdly, “look to Christ”…make a priority of Christ in our lives


  • Our Position in Christ


There are a number of verses in this passage that describe our position in Christ. That is, what occurs…when we made or make a decision for Christ:

(v.3)…we died to self

(v. 1)… we are “raised with Christ”


(v. 3)…our life is hidden with Christ in God


(v. 9)…taken off the old self


(v.10)…when we made a decision for Christ…we put on the new self


Paul was not asking for the church at Colossae to make a few adjustments or make minor tweaks or modifications. Paul is speaking of a change in nature; an exchange of the old for the new. The Christian life is not a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new. Being in Christ is renouncing all that is not of Christ in preference for all that is of him.


I think of verses 1-11 as Paul’s commentary on what happens, and what action we take, because of who we are in Christ. In other words our position in Christ, determines our actions and sets our values.

…. two responses…the first is…


1 the importance of the city in the area had diminished, with the neighbouring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis (Paul references these in 4:13) surpassing Colossae as the primary places of importance in the region.

2 (READ Col. 2:2-4, 8; 20-23)…



  • Put to death what is not of Christ


Because we have died with Christ, we are to put to death (note verse 5 “mortify”) previously lived out behaviors. We are to think of ourselves as having died to the old habits and behaviours because Christ has given us a new life. (cf. Col. 2:20)


Let us not be complacent enough to think these practices referred to in this letter are not present…today…they have been, and they are…Paul’s words “put (it) to death”. God calls the church to a standard that is different to the world; in it but not of it, we are salt and light, a lamp upon hill3. So right here is the principle of living differently from the culture in which we live.


As Christians we adopt God’s values, and God’s values do not slip and slide according to the moral liberalness of the world.


(see Col. 3:7) You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things.

note what Paul says here…”you used to…in the life you once lived”…he wanted that church to understand there was no way they were pursuing a life in Christ, dragging their old sinful ways and habits behind them like a ball and chain.


If you were to take your car to Ross C with a patch of rust in a door panel, his guys aren’t going to spray new paint over it without treating the rust first…get that old stuff out and then paint it uphow many of us are walking around with rust with and new paint?


…. The 2nd response to our position in Christ, is we make a priority of Christ in our lives



  • Priority of Christ


Paul said “set your hearts on things above” in verse 1 and “set your minds on things above” from verse 2

… “Setting our hearts and minds on things above” isn’t a state of being so heavenly minded we’re of no earthly use, it is re-orientating our lives toward Christ, and continuing to orientate our lives toward him, in word and deed and conduct, in this life and for the life to come.


(see Rom. 12:2)


Therefore, Hearts, minds above, is taking every thought captive and holding it obedient to Christ, it is striving to place every ambition, value, and aspiration under his lordship, it’s not just trying to live a good Christian life, it is being so caught up with the enormity of what God has accomplished for us in the person of Christ, that we cannot help live a life for him….he died, for me, what is my response?!


Imagine for a moment the intensity of our worship in song, the celebration and the praise, if, when we come together, our hearts and spirits are bursting with love and affection for God because we realise how lost and hopeless we are without his mercy and grace?



    1. Be assured of your identity in Christ
    2. Be honest before God, reject sin – put drastic steps in place in areas where you know you are prone to sin
    3. Train our hearts and minds towards the things of Christ, how. (Look at Phil. 4:8)
    4. Do everything we need to do, to deal with that which diverts our attention from Jesus
    5. Do that which directs our attention toward Jesus
    6. Let the word of God be that which consumes our minds and directs our thinking…S.O.A.P?


3 As I’ve said in a previous message on Holiness, this is about focusing on the “to do’s” rather than the “don’t do’s”. One is negative the other positive



(READ Heb. 4:14-16)


It is because Jesus has experienced all we experience, that he makes his grace available to us…he knows, he cares, he understands, he does not want us to remain in the place we are, so he makes grace available…

Grace is available when we say, I know I need to put those old ways behind me…

Grace is available when we have the courage to say I know this habit doesn’t glorify God, I need to let it go… Decide today, wherever you’re at, to make Christ a priority, in all areas of your life


…the final takeaway

    1. Receive his grace