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Teaching

Let No One Disqualify You (Colossians 2)

Colossians 2 (ESV)

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

  1. Struggling for the Brethren (Col 2:1-5)

    1. Paul strongly desires that the Church’s hearts be knit together and striving for love and knowledge of the mystery of God, which is Christ and not some ecstatic or hidden experience.
    2. In Christ are hidden all the mysteries of knowledge and wisdom.
      1. We know the Person and not all the knowledge and wisdom He has
      2. Do not be deluded. Thinking we can achieve knowledge in this world apart from Christ is foolish – we know Him who knows all and brings us in union with eternity and wisdom and knowledge.
    3. Alive in Christ (Col 2:6-15)

      1. You received Christ – walk in Him in thanksgiving
      2. You have been united to Christ in Whom the fullness of God dwells bodily
      3. We have received the Circumcision of Christ
        1. Circumcision vs. Uncircumcision
          1. Uncircumcision represents the body of death, born in Adam, born in bondage to sin and death.
          2. Circumcision represents God’s favor to make the person spiritually alive – “cut off” from the domain of sin and death and brought in to God’s family
          3. Circumcision and baptism both signify spiritual circumcision but do not confer it.
        2. Christ’s death and resurrection
          1. By faith we cling to Christ who died for sin and rose again
          2. He took our debt of sin against a Holy God and nailed it to the Cross
  • That debt died on the Cross
  1. Our sins are forgiven
  2. He rose again and, in power, conquered the principalities and powers that reigned over us.
    1. We are His now and need not fear the power or condemnation of the power of sin and death that once held us in slavery and condemnation.
  3. This is spiritual circumcision – union with Christ and is signified by our baptism.
  • Let No One Disqualify You (Col 2:16-23)

    1. vv16-17 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

      1. Remember what we learned about uncircumcision and circumcision
      2. If we forget that the spiritual reality is spiritual life only found in Christ then we can turn to a pattern when we were dead.
  • The OT Scriptures speak repeatedly of the circumcision of the heart – this is a picture of spiritual life
  1. Many Jews interpreted “circumcision of the heart” as a call to their personal zeal – their strength.
  2. They failed to see the reality of the body of death that even a circumcised person in the OC was born with.
  3. Instead of looking in faith for the Promise that God would do the work of spiritual circumcision – they sought after the Law as a way, in their flesh, to act as a false substitute.
  • The Law was never meant as a guide by which morally capable people could zealously guard and keep its precepts and “circumcise their own hearts” by keeping God’s commands
  • The Law and its precepts were meant to point to the Promise.
  1. The goal to keep the Law was good but the bondage and provisions of the Law’s demands and its condemnations ought to have driven the OC people to look to the grace of God for new hearts and not to trust in their own enslaved hearts.
  2. A circumcised man with an uncircumcised heart will always abuse the Law as well a baptized man with an uncircumcised heart.
  3. The Law and its provisions are shadows of the Servant of God Who kept the Law and, in Him, God supernaturally gives us new hearts that rely upon Him.
  • To return to the Law as if it is kept naturally and not supernaturally is a form of slavery.
  1. vv18-19 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

    1. The worship of angels refers here not to people advocating that angels be worshiped.
    2. It was the idea that angels worshiped in a higher way, as higher beings, and it was a call to a higher form of spiritual worship.
  • They called for asceticism which means the denial of the body.
  1. The idea is that if we can starve our bodies or be disciplined then we can escape the prison house of the flesh to think higher thoughts.
  2. These higher thoughts are much akin here to the Charismatic and Pentecostal ideas of a spiritual knowledge that is on a higher plane.
  3. It’s the idea that some have visions or particular spiritual insight that other Christians lack because they don’t invest themselves in this spiritual pursuit.
  • Paul calls this thinking sensuous.
  • It is pagan thinking.
  1. It is the idea that our own efforts are what attain us to higher spirituality and thinking.
  2. It disqualifies us because we turn inward and away from Christ.
  3. All Christians have possession of Christ – in Him are all the riches of wisdom and knowledge.
  • We need look no further as Christians than our Head.
  • He is sufficient to nourish us and build us up.
  • Every Christian who has Christ is built up in Him and, as they possess Him, they received growth in every area that is from God.
  1. The youngest child here who leans on Christ has access to the same Christ that I do. The same Christ in Whom are all riches.
  1. vv20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

    1. Those calling for a higher way of thinking were actually calling real Christians back down to the slavery of “uncircumcised heart” thinking.
    2. Higher life movements call to spiritual zeal but they have neglected Christ.
  • They have replaced their own zeal and believe that they are circumcising their hearts by denying the body, by thinking higher thoughts, by their ecstatic visions.
  1. But they are still earth bound.
  2. They are still bound to the elemental spirits of the world who love to take believers trust away from Christ into thinking and actions that they believe, by their zeal, will produce obedience and higher life
  3. They have the appearance of wisdom because they always call Christians to things you can find in the Scriptures.
  • They call to things that the Scriptures would commend us to do.
  • But they call us to these things while denying the necessity that God alone, through Christ, circumcises our hearts.
  1. Christ alone is our source of knowledge and wisdom and power against the power of the flesh, the world, and the devil.
  2. When we engage our lives with zeal toward the things God commands without Christ we have no power within ourselves.
  3. We cannot be sanctified by pulling out our eyes that would wander, amputating body parts that cause us to lust.
  • Apart from Christ, we are exposed to principalities and powers that enslave us.
  • The Gospel is too basic for those who rely on their own zeal but it is life to the living.
  • Only because Christ died on a Cross were our trespasses and sins nailed there and put to death.
  1. Only in Christ were we made sons of God by adoption.
  • Only in Christ do we have the power to resist sin and temptation and truly love each other and our neighbors with supernatural love.
  • Only in Christ are all the hidden treasures of knowledge and wisdom.
  • Do you know this Christ?
  • If not then turn to Him and everything you could not attain by your own zeal is yours in Him!
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