Today we are looking at Colossians 2:6-15. The focus of today’s sermon is staying centred in Christ. We live in a day and age where the line between truth and myth is becoming increasing blurred. Some myths are harmless, like Loch Ness, Bigfoot, and Atlantis. Others are more dangerous, like it’s ok to lie when it’s for a good reason, or that illnesses can be cured with magic. Other myths have eternal issues. For example, all paths lead to God-the B’ahai’s keep this as the centre of their faith. We keep two main beliefs as the centre of ours, that Jesus was the Son of God and that he died and rose again. Today in Colossians 2:6-15 we see Paul plainly lay out that we are to be thankful and centred on Christ, he warns not to be led astray, and then he gives even more detailed reasons to stay centred.
When I was a younger man in my early 20’s I was pretty set on becoming a Roman Catholic priest. I had applied to the largest seminary in Ontario, St. Augustine’s in Toronto, and had reaffirmed my Catholic beliefs. I believed that there was something more that I was missing being in mainstream Christianity. And a good friend of mine Father William whom I had met through this process, had said to be really focussed on Christ you cannot go searching for something more, because he is the centre and everything else should focus us back towards him. He then proceeded to point out how the Bible constantly points towards Christ in the OT. He pointed out dozens of verses that were prophecies of Christ’s coming, life, death, resurrection. But what we are focussing on today is how Paul instructs the church in Colosse to avoid false doctrines and to remind them that they are to be thankful and why.
Many believe that these verses are the centre point and summary of the entire book of Colossians. I personally see it as Paul simply laying out who we are as Christians, why we should be thankful, and why we should keep the first two in mind.
6 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness-“
More than half a century ago the Pastor and preacher Dr. W.A. Criswell said in a commentary about Col 2:6-7, “The text is very simple, but it also is a great deep—”As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” Paul is saying in this passage rejoice and be thankful you will not die but live. But you must continue to grow as you were taught or dangers could arise and these dangers are as Criswell says “the characteristic of human life that is enticed by and enjoys and seeks change.”
“It is good when we rejoice in a new discovery, when we seek a new adventure, when we delight in a new truth. But it can be sad and tragic if our delight for change removes us from the old landmarks, when it takes us away from the great fundamentals. So I say, our delight in a change, in a new thing, in a different thing, can be a wonderful experience. But it also can be a sad perversion if it takes us away from the ground of our faith and the object of our hope.” So Paul does acknowledge being thankful but you must grow as you were taught, but what does he say in verses 8-9? How does he grow on this?
8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.”
Here we see that Paul warns of something that the church in Colossi was guilty of. They had started off with a fundamental faith in Christ but as of lately had lost their centre of balance, they started to bring in other worldly traditions. In verse 8 Paul warns us to avoid deceptive beliefs or to be taken captive by world traditions. And it could be something to subtle you do not even notice it, for example Mormonism-they are absolutely so sure that their way is correct; they have added to the Bible to fulfil some spiritual fulfilment. These nudge Christian’s off centre, for example:
Islam: Jesus was only a mortal human being and a prophet
Judaism: Jesus is the most influential, and consequently the most damaging, of all human false messiahs
Scientology: Jesus is only one of many good teachers.
Hinduism: The teenage Jesus was a yogi and guru to the Jews. As a human, through rigorous spiritual practice, he realized his own universal “god-consciousness”
Mormonism: In the pre-mortal life, Jesus Christ was the firstborn spirit child of God the Father and thus the eldest brother and preeminent above all other spirit children of God.
Jehovah’s Witness: Jesus was a created spirit being who, post-resurrection, was “exalted” to a level higher than an angel.
The danger lies in the deception. We may think we are growing in Christ but we are being taken captive. When we are studying the Bible let us not become religious and theological but the study of the Bible should reinforce the personal relationship. Paul is not saying to avoid the world at all costs; in fact we are to be in the world, but not of the world, not to be taken captive. Avoid getting off centre by adding to Christ to try achieving full spiritual enlightenment (Buddhist Christians). The author C.S. Lewis was attending a conference on the validity of other religions in the world. C.S. Lewis had been an atheist, then an agnostic, then a Christian. When he was asked what made Christianity so different from the other world religion and philosophies he said plainly, grace is the difference, Christianity is the only religion where you have to do nothing, just accept the gift and the change will come. But how do we avoid being taken captive? We need to know and explore more in depth who Christ is.
Look at verse 9-10-Here it is, “9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” A Jewish man who lived over 2000 years ago, in a remote Middle Eastern area now known as Palestine, who was executed in the worse way possible, and who was God in the flesh. There have been debates for centuries on the identity of Christ. Many religions like I said earlier believe he was man but became more after the descent of the Holy Spirit when he was baptised by John. Others believe he was a transfigured to God on the Mount but before He was just a man. While these questions are on Christ’s humanity and deity is interesting, it’s doesn’t affect our faith. Christ is the Son of God, He loves us, He died for us, He rose again, our sins are forgiven-that’s it, that’s the most important everything else leads up to or points back to it. If you think you need to go outside of Christ for whatever reason is be aware of what is happening, you are being taken away. Paul says we have fullness of Christ already right now. We have it for what Christ achieved in his life, death, and resurrection, and now we can say that what happened to him has happened to us in spirit. But Paul goes even further in verses 11-13, “11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.” In verse 11-12 Paul references the custom of the OT. Circumcision in the old testament was a way of showing the covenant between God and Abraham they were to be set apart as God’s chosen people, and in this verse Paul is making reference that we are to be set apart, yes we are all sinners but since we have died to ourselves we are set apart, we have been set aside in our baptism and as Christ has died so we have and as he has been raised so we are raised. We are holy priests set apart, co-heirs with Christ, and through that same co-heir we are princes and princesses set apart with those who have gone home to be with the Lord, those we are on earth together with and those who will come after us, until Christ comes again. Paul points out that Christ has fulfilled a debt that we should have paid. A common trick of the enemy is that even though we are saved we should be afraid of coming before God’s judgement because all our sins will be exposed. I was walking along the beach recently on kangaroo island and I picked up a single grain of sand, and looked at the entire beach, realising that me picking up that grain would not make a single difference in the spectrum of how much is on the beach, in the same way our sins are so vast we could not ever hope to fix them. Sin is degenerative, not just in our actions but in our genetics (the fault of Adam). So here Paul is saying that two issues are being resolved-our personal sin and the inherent sin caused by the fall of man. But see what Paul is doing he is emphasising that what Christ experienced, we also experienced so he is at the right hand of the Father thus we will go to the Father. And how is this accomplished? He forgave us all our sins. Paul is being quite blunt here, laying it out plain and simple. He does this so there is no confusion, no way can people contest it. Paul is saying that if we accept Christ, we are dead to what we were and alive in him-we are to explore that meaning and explore what that means throughout the Bible. There is no fullness of God or greater spirituality outside of Christ.
How does Paul close these verses up?
14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Paul uses powerful imagery here, so that we make no mistake about the centre of our faith, it is nailed to the cross-it is on Christ-our sins are there- you need nothing else, if you move away from that you do an injustice to Christ’s sacrifice that is unspeakable.
The record of my debt no longer exists, it has been wiped clean. We may have sins that we are so ashamed of we have buried them deep, and perhaps you may be worried if you have blown it but Paul says that Christ died for that sin, that sin is gone once you ask for the forgiveness of it.
Just remember that when the enemy tries to throw our sins back in our face saying we deserve death and judgement you can look them square in the eye and say, “I admit that I deserve death and judgement, what of it-for I knew someone who made satisfaction in my stead, his name is Jesus Christ Son of God and where he is I shall be also.”
In the final verse Paul gives us an image to emphasise the victory of Christ. When Paul talks about a public spectacle, he’s referring to an old custom where Roman generals would bring the losers of battles fought and parade them through the streets. It’s quite a degrading process where the victor humiliates them; the Roman citizens would laugh at them, throw rotten food at them, and rob them of any dignity. Paul is saying that Chris came down, defeated Satan, and is now parading him and his other fallen around as the disarmed defeated beings of a battle they are. He is intent that true freedom was won by the cross of Christ, freedom from demonic forces, darkness, and danger are not something we need to go outside Christ to achieve, and it is done.
Ladies and gentlemen do you see why it is important and vital to be aware of our own spiritual health?
Some applications to avoid losing our centre:
1) Everything you feel God calling you to line it up with a Spiritual elder and the Bible.
2) Get planted in a good church and a good cell group or Bible study. These people can keep you accountable and correct you in love.
3) Be in the world but not of the world, sociologists say that your personality if a composite of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. That being said try to surround yourself with only the strongest Christians.
4) Avoid spending extended times in worldly situations without returning to Christ for a refocus and a re-centre.
So this has been a very scripturally heavy sermon but we can take Paul’s words as our hope, our warning, and our truth. We are a new creation in Christ. We are saved; let us take this new life into our work, our social lives, and into eternity. Let’s pray.
Benediction: The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. Psalms 121:7, 8