Col 3:4-7 “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.”
Since we are now raised with Christ (Col 3:1), He is our life. He is the source of our ability and desire. We are motivated by His love, grace, and truth. Any effort we make to continue to live our old life is met with dissatisfaction and sorrow.
The word rendered “when” in verse three has two basic thoughts behind it according to Strong’s. One is that of uncertainty and the other is that of cause. Since the language here does not allow for uncertainty (“When Christ…shall appear), then we must consider this in the view of being causative. The appearance of Christ as our life causes us to appear with Him in glory.
We have a tendency, when we read the word glory, to think of something that awaits us on the other side of corporeal death. I certainly agree that there is a glory that awaits us. My soul is, at times, in breathless anticipation of that day when this house of clay will no longer hold me here. However, Paul has been telling us about the impact of Christ on our lives here in this present world. There is no reason for me to think that he suddenly abandons that in this third verse.
Being raised with Christ, He is now our life. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, He is rendered apparent (see Strong’s definition of “appear”). When Christ is rendered apparent then it causes us who are raised with Him to be rendered apparent with Him. This is no small thing, because the meaning of the word translated as “glory” is to be very apparent.
As we live our lives in Him, He becomes very apparent in our daily lives. Our lives are directed by the mind of Christ: we live gloriously to His honor and in praise and worship of His holiness. We are no longer under the dominion of our earthly members. In Him, the flesh (our earthly members) is brought under subjection (mortified).
We often see professing Christians read instruction like that in verse five, and we want to immediately look at the lives of people outside the church. We have a tendency to condemn and somehow feel superior in ourselves. Remember that Paul is writing to the “saints and faithful brethren (Col 1:2).” It is the saints and faithful brethren that Paul warns to mortify the earthly members of harlotry, impurity, lust, worthless desires, and idolatry. In other words, he is talking to us.
Paul plainly tells us that we have walked in these things. There was a time when our lives were spent chasing after all this ungodliness, and it is only in Christ that this changes. We are not incapable of going after these things now (hence the instruction to subdue them), but we are incapable of finding any joy in them. To go after these things is to be disobedient to God.
May we be blessed for it to be very apparent that Christ is our life!