Though our Lord Jesus Christ is not here in presence He is in essence, for His essence is everywhere, esp. in His angels (e.g. Exo 3:2; Heb 1:7), and He has given us His Spirit, not only to be in this life but in our lives. It is not the Life of the Spirit that is in us, but the Spirit Himself and His power—maintaining the Life of the Lord Jesus in us (Col 3:4).
Due to our present union with Him via the Spirit, the effective is as if we were their now—with Him (because it will inevitably be so); and the Life of Christ will be the same in us there as it is now here. All that the Father desires of us in Christ is established by Their precious Holy Spirit—for now and everlasting (Jhn 14:16; Rev 22:17), and soon—always so soon, will our presence be There too (1Thes 4:16, 17; 1Co 15:52).
If as believers we yield ourselves to the influence and learning of the Spirit of Christ, we will be brought to see not only that the Lord Jesus has died unto sin, but to take up the ground of having died with Him. It is not only a matter of doctrine, but what we are brought to by the Spirit’s leading and enlightening.
We should not be free to seek the things above, or to set our minds on those things, if we have not taken our position of having died with the Lord Jesus. Actually we are living in this world, but how do we take account of ourselves spiritually? If one has died with Christ, the improvement of the man in the flesh (“old man” or sin nature—NC) and the world are absolutely valueless; a vast number of things which believers are occupied with are set aside at one stroke.
It is marvelous for us to consider that the Lord Jesus has been in the place of death. That wonderful Person, who has been magnified before our eyes in Colossians 1, has been in the place of death. It moves our affections profoundly to consider that glorious Man as having been in the place of death. It is as He is established in our affections that we take up the positions of having died and risen with Him. We do not want to live where He has died. It is the Christian’s privilege and responsibility to take up in mind and spirit his position of having died and risen with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the true and only sphere of life for the Christian.
Everything turns on the place where the Lord Jesus is. If He had a place on earth, that would be the place for us; but if He is sitting at the right hand of the Father in glory, that is the center of interest for us. It is a question of where the Source of our Life is. In Colossians 3 the saints have come to regard themselves as having died, risen and ascended. If I have, my outlook is on things above.
What is involved in, “Having your mind on the things that are above?” It is what is before you. We know all too well what it is in the world. We sought certain things and had our mind on them, and they constituted our life. Every person in the world has something which is life to him and which he sets his mind on; it may be place, wealth, glory or self-gratification in some form or other.
In contrast to that, the Christian seeks the things that are above and sets his mind on them. We have come into line with what our Father has cherished in His heart and mind for us. The mind is controlled by its object. Practically it comes to this—just as the world is everything to the worldling, so is the Lord Jesus Christ everything to the Christian. He is independent of the world and all in it because the Lord Jesus is his Life.
Everything in the mind of the Father for His own has its source in the risen and glorified Man at His right hand. That is the reason we cannot show anyone our life (evidence of God’s kingdom is manifest - Luk 11:20 – but the kingdom itself is invisible - Luk 17:20—NC). We eat and drink and mind our business and walk about like other people, but a risen and glorified Man in heaven is our Life. It cannot be seen, it is “hidden” in the Father above (3:3). If a Christian knows what it is to have the Lord Jesus as his life, he is able to put on His beautiful qualities (Rom 8:29; 13:14—NC), and they come into evidence down here (Christians are progressively learning to manifest all that they already are in Christ—NC)—but the Source of that life is hidden.
If you want to know what your Christian life is, it is hidden in the Father. There is only one place where you can learn it—in His heart and mind (Lev 24:12; 1Co 2:16; Eph 5:17). We have to leave behind everything connected with ourselves and the world in order to travel to the heart of our Father. There we find His thought is that His Beloved Son is our Life (3:4).
—C A Coats (1862-1945)