Rooted in Christ Week 5
"Truth and Error"

Pastor Terry Inman

05-01-16

 

Last week we studied Paul’s thoughts on The Ministry, the suffering, the preaching, the praying, and the pastoring. Paul closed that part of his letter to the Colossians with our theme verse for the series.

 

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Col. 2.6-7 NIV)

 

It is not unusual for me to get error messages on my electronic devises. They are typically user errors. Meaning is my fault—bad input gets bad output. Paul fixes some these error messages the church was receiving.

 

Today our exposition of Colossians 2.8-23 is titled, “Truth and Error”. The multi-cultural believers of Colossae had received the truth, the good new of Jesus Christ.

 

Earlier in this letter Paul complemented them for their faith in Christ and their love for each other. Unfortunately they were also getting mixed error messages. They were being influenced by the life-style, philosophy and false religions of their culture.

 

In the next few lines of this letter Paul engages them in what we mentioned in last weeks study. “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” (Col. 1.28 NIV)

 

Paul affirms the truth of Christ but also admonishes or cautions against error. In the next few verses Paul exposes the errors of humanistic philosophy, religious legalism, angelic worship and extreme asceticism.

 

These false ideologies were of mix of pagan practices and religious traditions. The most common threat was Gnosticism. This mixture of paganism and Judaism was creeping into the church. Paul hits it head on.

 

Paul first warns against being taken captive by humanistic philosophy. “See to it (make sure) that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Col. 2.8 NIV)

 

The expression Paul uses here indicates a clear and present danger. “Be on guard”! There were charismatic teachers capturing minds and hearts but leading them they astray from the truth in Jesus Christ.

 

This is the only reference to philosophy in the New Testament. Not all philosophy is bad. Here it simply means, “the love of wisdom”. But Paul is warning about “hallow” (empty) and “deceptive” (delusional) philosophy.

 

There are two problems with this meaningless and misleading thinking.

First it “depends on human tradition”. These philosophies were based on human rules and rituals not God’s reveled truth. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for this. “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” (Mark 7.8 NIV)

 

Second, it was a philosophy that depended on “the basic principles of this world.” The original language suggests the superstitions of spirit-beings. The Gnostics held that there was a whole system of spirit beings. They reduced Jesus Christ to just one of many demigods. This is much like the universalism of today that says there are many paths to God.

 

Most cults have their gods, goddess and guru’s that have been hatched out of someone’s mythical musing. The bible calls this “doctrines of demons”. They are of human imagination and demonic impersonation.

Any philosophy or religion that denies or distorts the revealed truth of Jesus Christ will lead to dark spiritual bondage!

 

Paul follows this admonition on error with an affirmation of truth. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Col. 2.9-10 NIV)  

 

There is noting inadequate about Jesus Christ. He is not an inferior God. He is totally and completely the all-sufficient God! Paul used this expression, “fullness” earlier. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (Col.1.19 NIV)

There is noting lessor or lacking in Christ. He fully embodies deity. He is not just a spiritual power or authority but the only all-powerful spiritual being. He is all God and all we need. He is totally adequate in every way!

 

In Him all the fullness of God lives and in him we live in God’s fullness! A lot of so-called spiritual people in our hip culture think they are little gods.

Well whatever—I have a great big God living in me! The Lord Jesus Christ!

 

In the next five verses Paul lists three benefits of living in Him; inclusion in Christ, forgiveness of sin and triumph over the enemy.

 

“In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Col. 2. 11-12 NIV)

 

Circumcision was a bit more extreme than a tattoo as an identifying mark of inclusion in God’s special family the Jews. Circumcision was an old covenant rite of inclusion. Baptism is a new covenant expression of inclusion in Christ.

 

Paul says Christ has now circumcised our hearts. We have fully identified with him. We are totally immersed in his death, burial and resurrection. We are fully included in Christ and his body the Church.

 

It gets even better we also fully forgiven. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2.13-14 NIV)

 

The offences of a criminal would be listed on their cell or cross. As they paid their debt to society they would be crossed off. Paul’s says our sins were nailed to the cross and canceled.

 

David said, If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” (Psalm 130.3-4 NIV)

 

In Christ we have inclusion, forgiveness and finally Paul says we triumph over our enemy. “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Col. 2.15 NIV)

Next Paul admonishes the church about religious legalism. The fullness of God lives in Christ and Christ lives in us so we don’t need religious rules regulations and rituals to be accepted by him. We are already in Him!

 

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Col. 2.16-17 NIV)

 

Jewish believers expected Gentile believers to observe their kosher diets, festivals, celebrations and Sabbaths. These are good because they do foretell what has been fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection.

 

We enjoy the Passover Seder with our family. These traditions are great teaching tools but they are no longer requirements for God’s favor. Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1Cor. 5.7)

 

We respect Judeo-Christian observances and celebrations of faith but we no obligated to perform for our redemption—It is fully covered by Christ!

 

Paul also forbids the Gnostic’s worship of Angels. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. (Col. 2. 18)

 

Again this is a reference to the veneration these false teachers paid to a hierarchy of spirit-beings who, in their system, filled the whole universe.

 

Paul uses some expressions from the ancient Grecian games. Don’t let these self-appointed spiritual umpires eliminate you from heavens prize. False humility may refer to veneration and intercession made to these lower spirit beings. We have only one higher power, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

They impose their esoteric experiences based on their own subjective imaginations and hallucinations. Does this mean dreams and visions are suspect? No, but anything we experience that can’t line up with revealed scripture and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ shouldn’t be trusted as truth.

 

In some renewal movements today there is an overemphasis on angelic experiences and encounters. Anytime we upstage Christ with angels, miracles, prophecies or any other spiritual phenomenon we are on dangerous ground. It is so easy to get sidetracked.

 

In Revelation 19 the apostle John was so overwhelmed by an angelic messenger that he fell to his feet in adoration. The angel said, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19.10 NIV)   

 

Paul says these false teachers inflated by their own revelations are disassociated from true spiritual reality. “He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” Col. 2.18-19 NIV

 

This is a great word picture of our spiritual anatomy. We are part of the whole body of Christ. Jesus is the head. He is our source. He holds us together as we stay fully connected. This is how we function and grow!

 

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph. 4.16 NIV) This is just another great way to look at being deeply Rooted in Christ!

 

Finally Paul warns about meaningless ascetic practices. These are severe, often abusive religious disciplines designed to appease God and overcome human weakness or sinfulness.

 

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? (Col. 2.20-21NIV)

 

This is sort of like self-help religion--earning our way to God or perfecting our faith though a list of do and don’ts. These policies for piety fluctuate based on race, religion tradition and culture.

 

I grew up with some of these. Dancing, bowling, card playing and movie watching were all sins—probably because they were often associated with smoking, excessive drinking, sexual promiscuity and other bad stuff. Oh I left out some lipstick and women’s pants were on the list of no--no’s.

 

We have a lot more freedom in Christ now. But have we swung the other way. Some claim to serve Jesus but live just like the rest of our culture. There is a hyper-grace movement now that gives permission to live anyway you want because God’s grace covers it all.

 

Some rules and restrictions are good but they don’t earn us spiritual points. Paul says, “These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Col. 2. 22-23 NIV

 

We can have all the right external practices and controls but with out internal control we won’t succeed at spiritual maturity. Internal control is the daily presence and personal attention to God’s guiding Holy Spirit.

 

Let me wrap this by taking us back to Paul’S central theme…

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Col. 2.6-7 NIV)

Jesus did not come to start a religion with rules, regulations and traditions. Jesus came to give us a personal relationship. He lived and died for us. When we give our lives to him, we are given His Spirit to live in us.

 

As we mentioned earlier we are included in Christ, we are forgiven through Christ, and in Christ we triumph over the enemies of self, sin and Satan! Are you deeply Rooted in Christ?