Last week we began our review of the letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Colosse. You may remember that the year was about AD62 and Paul was being held in Rome under arrest and on appeal to Caesar. The Caesar at that time was the infamous Nero – a notoriously evil man who perpetrated some of the most heinous acts ever known to mankind.
Paul lived in a house provided to him by Nero. Paul’s friends were allowed to come and go freely and it was through these visits Paul kept up with the current affairs and needs of those Churches and the many families he had fathered in Christ. Paul felt, and indeed was, spiritually responsible for the health and growth of the Kingdom of God in his generation. It was due to his calling, having been chosen by the will of God to be an Apostle of Christ Jesus. (Colossians 1:1)
Despite all that was going on around Paul and also the trouble headed in a very short time for all Christians living within the borders of the Roman Empire, Paul kept his mind on the message of the Gospel. He refused to be drawn into political debates or be distracted from the purpose to which he had been called. Some five years earlier Paul had written to another congregation concerning his dedication to this commitment. He said:
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2 NKJV)
During these days, horrible things were happening to Christians and Jews everywhere. There were mounting persecutions from every side. The Apostle Paul is right in the middle of it all when he writes this letter to the Believers in the congregation at Colosse.
Last week we concluded from the first chapter of Colossians that:
Without regard as to what may be taking place around us -
1. The Good News is changing lives all over the world.
2. We stand before God without a single fault.
3. We should work hard but we must depend on Christ who lives in us.
Today we will further survey this letter by reading and drawing our conclusions from chapter 2. Let’s begin …
Colossians 2 (New Living Translation)
1 I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the Church at Laodicea, and for many other Believers who have never met me personally.
What a peculiar statement yet so understood by everyone who has ever been graced with an Apostolic calling. The souls of men and women called to and joined with the Churches over which the Holy Ghost has made men responsible continue to call out to and consume the hearts and minds of those men. While Pastors often share the burden of God for a congregation, Apostles feel accountable to God for the salvation of the whole world in their generation and they give themselves to that end.
The Apostle Paul not only felt responsible and agonized over the Churches in his generation … but was indeed made and held responsible for them by God. In this respect he had authority to speak and cause to implore both Church leaders and congregants to follow his doctrine and not be drawn away from God’s mysterious plan.
In this divine role Paul gave instructions even to those whom he had not yet personally met … he told the Church Pastor and leaders:
2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ Himself.
3 In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The Holy Spirit makes it plain through this Apostle that Christ is the end all and be all, above other spiritual and religious pursuits. The reason why Paul is saying this is because he is concerned they might be listening to others who are deceiving them and luring them into empty religious practices which seem right but are only empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense.
These deceivers are often deceived themselves and spend hours espousing and defending their well crafted arguments. Paul did not want those precious individuals and families to become confused by Church leaders who were not following the divine mandate of which Paul was the Apostle.
4 I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments.
5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.
These first 6 verses of chapter 2 reveal the heart of God … it is the same heart He has had since before He created the heavens and the earth. This same heart of concern is also in Paul and resident in the heart of every parent and Apostle as well.
The earliest pain ever revealed still exists today. It frustrates God and is man’s worst nightmare. What is this alarm?
… The concern that your children will not continue to respect, honor and follow you.
· Lucifer drew away and strayed and divorced himself from God – acting as though God did not create him or have any right of say in his continuing life. His pride made him want to do his own thing.
· Lucifer enticed many other servants of God with well crafted arguments to draw them away from their Creator who loved them.
· This same serpent beguiled Eve in the Garden and filled her head with empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense and drew her away from her Heavenly Father and her blessed life.
· Eve followed the example and enticed Adam to leave the covering of the One who loved and provided for him. She forfeited their future …
· The devil even attempted to deceive Jesus with his well crafted arguments and philosophical nonsense. Jesus saw right through it …
· Every parent faces that same devil who tries to separate their children from their God given parental counsel and covering.
· Division is nothing short of the devil’s work. He is continually devising deceptions through which he hopes to divide families and Churches – the unity of the family and Church are the devil’s biggest threats.
· However, the devil cannot divide unless he can find someone to believe him and work on his behalf spreading his lies and making them sound believable to unsuspecting people.
· We must refuse to allow someone else to make us unhappy with or separate us from our husband, wife, father, mother, pastor or employer. If all we can do is repeat the criticism someone else told us … we are deceived.
· This is why the Apostle Paul stressed to the Believers in the Church of Rome:
Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
The word for today is: Continue – Don’t listen to people who are telling you that you need not continue in the place and/or under the leadership God has clearly given you. If God wants a change, let Him make it … however, you need not listen to “well crafted arguments” of others bent on division – they are deceived of the devil and will only confuse and deceive you. Remember – The word of today is: Continue …
7 Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.
This is the Holy Spirit inspired heart of an Apostle for the people …
9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.
10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature.
True New Testament circumcision … the cutting away of our sinful nature!
12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with Him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins.
14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.
The record of charges – the evidence against us – the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was nailed to the cross … there is no longer a record of wrongs … Jesus fooled the devil and took away his rights of complaint in an open defeat.
15 In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.
16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.
We are no longer under the shadow of the image of God which was cast upon cold lifeless and unforgiving stone. Rather we now see the Living One who casted the shadow and now know Him in the fullness of His grace. Let no one judge, condemn or criticize your honest embrace of the realities of Christ our Lord. Our worship cannot be legislated or regulated by law.
17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality.
18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud,
19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For He holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.
20 You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as,
21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”?
22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them.
23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.
Just because you don’t touch does not mean you don’t want to touch. Sin is a matter of the heart and not only the act itself. Self denial does little to change a person’s heart. Instead of merely curbing our sinful acts and desires we must rather destroy them by the blood of Christ.
In conclusion, chapter 2 of Colossians teaches us:
1. The record of charges against us has been nailed to the cross.
2. Don’t let anyone deceive you with well crafted arguments.
3. Just as we have accepted Christ, we must continue to follow Him.
Well crafted arguments can never replace the simple reading of God’s Word. Never allow human philosophy, no matter how high sounding it may be, to trump the Word of God. Simply accept Christ and continue to follow Him.
God wants His children to be encouraged and knit together with strong ties of love. The devil wants to from God and His grace. No one but Jesus paid for your sins … accept Christ and continue to follow Him!
And a word to children: Do not allow anyone to separate you from your parents. Avoid those who attempt to divide your family …