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1-4 Union with Christ
Remember that the “mystery” that Paul has been unpacking for us is that the body of Christ is both the incarnate reality of the God-man Jesus Christ, and also the picture of the church with Christ as its head. But if we, the church, are Christ’s body, then that means that wherever the head has gone, he takes us with him. And so when Christ sits down on his throne in heaven, he sits there with all his body with him. As the body of Christ we share in the events of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, ascension into heaven, and enthronement at the right hand of the Father. And if that is the case, then that is where our attention ought to be.
5-11 Put to Death
“Now, it being our duty to mortify, to be killing of sin whilst it is in us, we must be at work. He that is appointed to kill an enemy, if he leave striking before the other ceases living, does but half his work,” John Owen, The Mortification of Sin. If you are in this new man, with Christ as your head, then you are therefore called to a life of putting sin to death. This is the ongoing work of persevering faith. And at the root of mortifying your sin, is the question of where are your eyes.
Your heart follows your eyes. Where do you put your eyes? We lift up our heart to the Lord because we lift up our eyes to the Lord. So where are your eyes? Paul calls covetousness idolatry (v. 5, cf. Eph. 5:5) because your heart follows your eyes as your prayer will follow your longing. The mortification of a sin starts with your eyes.
But here is the problem. I am telling you that the mortification of your sin depends on you looking to Christ and not looking at the enticements of the flesh. But the problem is that Christ, currently seated in heaven, cannot currently be seen. He inhabits what is still a future glory for us, a glory that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard . . .” (1 Cor. 2:9, cf. 1 Tim. 1:17). And, on the other hand, those things that you are not to be looking at are all quite visible.
12-17 Put on Love
But you do have Christ before you because you have the body of Christ, the church that surrounds you now. Love is what holds the body together (v. 14, cf. 2:19). Love makes visible to us what is currently removed from our senses – Christ (1 John 4:20). The difficulty is that you must remember that God defines this love, not you.