About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 2:6 - 23

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Freedom From Human Regulations Through Life With Christ (ch. 2:6-23)

 

Paul encourages these people to continue to live as people who have "received Christ as Lord".  To me this is quite interesting in relation to the fact that when I was a child I often heard that we were to receive Christ as Saviour, then, at some future point in our lives, we then should receive Him as Lord.  The Methodists called this second experience Entire Sanctification.  I personally do not believe in this teaching and I'm not sure the Free Methodist Church I was raised in actually taught the doctrine as John Wesley taught it, who was the founder of the doctrine.  Paul says it plainly here.  We receive Jesus as Lord from the very beginning.  Because Jesus is Lord He can be our Saviour. 

 

Repentance is a must in the process of salvation and repentance implies that we not only walk away from our sinful self but we turn to Jesus our new Lord. 

 

When we become Christians we are supposed to grow in our faith, "rooted and grounded in Him" as Paul puts it in verse 7.  Our faith should grow.  What does this mean?  It simply means that our trust in Jesus should become stronger and more secure.  Really, when we come to Jesus in the first place we should think in terms of trusting Jesus with our very lives, including our salvation.  Too often we think in terms of trusting Jesus for just our salvation, but that's not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We trust Him with our entire lives.  We trust Him for every aspect of our existence, which would include our salvation.  As we get rooted and grounded in Him, this trust will deepen, or become more real and effective in our lives.  Being rooted is a process that takes place every day of our lives.  It's not a part time hobby.  It's our number one priority of life.

 

Paul speaks of being "overflowing with thankfulness".  Being thankful to God gets our thoughts and attention off ourselves and onto Jesus where they belong.  It's only in this frame of mind that we can be grounded and rooted in Jesus.  When we are consumed with ourselves, we leave Jesus on the sidelines.  

 

In verse 8 Paul continues to exhort these people to let no one take them captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.  Paul is alluding to the Gnostic way of thinking here.  We have our own deceptive man-made philosophies and ways of thinking that confront the church in our day, just as they did in Paulís day.  We need to be grounded in the objective truth of Scripture in order for us not to be deceived by the philosophical trends of our day.

 

It's a sad fact that even in Evangelical circles today we are influenced by our culture's worldly philosophies.  New Age thinking has deceptively crept into parts of the church, especially in the movement known as the Emergent Church .  Too often we let the world influence us instead of us influencing the world.      

 

Verse 9 is extremely important to Christian theology.  It says, "For in Christ all of the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form".  This clearly states that Jesus is God.  All of who God is exists in Jesus, in His human body.  The Greek word "theotes" is translated as "Deity" in this verse.  It comes from the Greek word "Theos", meaning "God" in English.  The Deity of Christ, meaning, Jesus is God or God is Jesus, is essential in Christian thinking and doctrine.  Paul hits the Gnostic problem with this fact.  There is only one Deity, only one God man.  The Gnostics are wrong when they claimed that there was a buffer zone of created angels whom Jesus was one.

 

The Gnostics are wrong as well when it comes to us, and who we are in Christ. We, by the Spirit of God have all of the fullness of God at our disposal.  We do not need thousands of other little gods, angels, or deities to help us and to communicate with us.  We are complete in Jesus, who is God.  This is what Paul means when he says that we "have been given the fullness of Christ who is head over every power and authority" in verse 10.              

 

Verse 10 is also important, especially when you consider what Paul just said in verse 9, which you obviously should.  Paul just said that all who God is lives in Jesus.  All of the fullness of God is in Jesus.  Then he says that the believer has been given all the fullness that is found in Jesus.  Our English word "fullness" is in reference to the fullness of God being in Jesus ands the fullness that is Jesus being given to us.  As Christians, we have all at our disposal to live the life Jesus asks us to live, and, in connection with those of the Gnostic persuasion, this fullness is from Jesus, not the angelic world.    

 

In verse 10 Paul says that Jesus is "head over every power and authority."   When Paul uses this term "power and authority" he is often referring to spiritual powers and authorities.  Jesus is the head of all spiritual identities, whether good or evil.  He is not one of them.  He is over them.  Jesus, once again, is one of a kind, not one of many.

 

Paul cannot seem to write a letter without getting into the topic of circumcision.  This letter to the Colossians is no exception.  He stresses the point that when we become a Christian and receive Godís Spirit, we are then circumcised, but this circumcision is one of the heart and not of the flesh. 

 

In verse 11 Paul says that "you were circumcised".  This is a Greek aorist verb.  An aorist verb is a one time action.  So, at one specific point which I believe was at these people's conversion experience due to the aorist verb, these believers were circumcised, but again Paul is not talking about physical circumcision here.  He's talking about a spirit circumcision that is found in Jesus.  Paul says that this circumcision is not the cutting away of flesh but a cutting away of our sinful nature.  

 

I think I can say it this way.  When we repent, which we can only do with Jesus' help, Jesus actually circumcises our hearts.  That is to say, He cuts out our sinful nature and we become a new nature in Him.  If you read my commentary on Romans 7 I go into great detail about this.  It's not an easy concept to understand.    

 

In verse 13 Paul relates all of this to baptism, which I believe is water baptism.  He says that we were buried with Jesus when we were baptized.  Paul is associating water baptism with burying our sinful nature, which, he appears to be associating with spiritual circumcision.  It seems to me that through the process of repentance and water baptism we are at least acknowledging the fact that we have had our sinful nature cut out of us.  Some suggest that it is actually and only through repentance, followed by water baptism that our sinful nature dies and is buried.  However you view this, a detailed study of Romans 6 through 8 shows us that for the believer, his sinful nature is in fact dead, even though it still clings to him like a stinking dead body.    

 

Also in verse 12 Paul says that "we have been raised with Him through faith."  Just as we died in repentance, and baptism, we are raised to a new life when we first believe, have faith, or trust Jesus with our lives.  When we repent, we die.  When we believe we are resurrected into someone new, by the power of God and the Holy Spirit.  In terms found in Romans 6 through 8 we are transformed from being in Adam to being in Christ.    

 

The content of verse 13 can be found in many of Paulís other writings.  He says, "When you were dead in your sins Ö God made you alive with Christ."  This is one of the central truths of the book of Romans that Paul just briefly speaks to here. 

 

We must notice here that God comes to us with salvation when we are dead in our sins.  We are truly dead, when it comes to the things of God and righteousness.  The wages of sin is death. This is what Paul said in Romans 6:23.  God told Adam in the garden that if he ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil he would die, and Adam, as well as all of his descendents died in relation to God.  So now, God comes to us when we are dead.  We cannot come to Him.  We are totally depraved and unable in our own right to come to Him.  He must call us by His Spirit, then with the Spiritís enabling, He can help us respond.  God does not expect us to come to Him on our own accord.  He does not expect us to change ourselves before we come to Him, yet after coming to Him and receiving His Spirit, change will come.  We, because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be changed as we grow in our trust in Jesus.  The point to be made here in this verse is that God first comes to us.  Then, He makes us alive in Christ.

 

In the rest of verse 12 and into verse 13 Paul goes on to say that God has forgiven our sins.  How has He done this?  Verse 14 says, "Having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that were against us Ö He took it away, nailing it to the tree."  This point here is another point that Paul often makes in his letters.  As he says in Romans 10:4, "Christ is the end of the Law."  The Law, or the code as stated here in Colossians, has been cancelled.  It has been nailed to the cross with Jesus as Paul states.  It is clear from this Scripture that the Old Testament Law, which I believe is the written code Paul is speaking of here, has no place in New Testament Christianity.  The Lawís time is over in many respects.  It has had its place, but that place is gone.  Jesus has now replaced the Law with Himself.  This Law has no significance in our lives.  I might also add, as I do whenever this topic arises, that if Godís Holy Law has nothing to do with our salvation, so no man made law has anything to do with our salvation.  That is, if Godís Law canít save us, then any rule that we make up as Christians canít save us either.  If we make up a rule and say that in order to be saved, or in order to keep being saved, we must do this or that, then we are in the wrong.  We are telling Jesus what He did on the cross is not good enough, and we need to add more to it to improve on what He has done.  What a horrible and blasphemous thought. 

 

Much more can be said about the cancelation of the Law of Moses.  It's a huge subject that cannot be tackled in detail here.  I'll just add this.  Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the Law or the prophets in Matthew 5:17.  Many people understand His words to mean that the Law is still in effect for us to obey today.  Look what else Jesus said at that time.  He said that He had come to fulfill the Law and the prophets.  The word "fulfill" tells me that the Law, like the prophets, is just as much prophetic as it is a list of rules and regulations.  Not all of the prophetic parts of the Law concerning Jesus have been fulfilled.  When they are, the Law will be totally done away with for good, but until then, the Law as it applies to salvation and the way we live do not have any relevance to New Testament Christians.  

 

Note in verse 14 Paul says that the Law was against us.  It opposed us.  How did the Law oppose Paul and others?  I believe it opposed us in the sense that it demanded perfection, a perfection that man could never find in the Law.  In short, the Law demanded perfection but gave us no way to find perfection.

 

The Law was nailed to the cross with Jesus, Paul says in verse 14.  Many Christians don't think of the Law being nailed to the cross with Jesus, but it was.  It's a topic unto itself to see what all was nailed to the cross with Jesus.  Jesus was not the only thing or one who died on the cross.  In one sense of the word the Law of Moses died on the cross as well, and, according to Romans 6, we died on the cross as well.    

 

In verse 15 the next point that Paul makes is also very interesting.  He says, "Having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."  Letís take some time and look at what Paul is saying, and what happened to Jesus on the cross.

 

Jesus says something interesting in Luke 22:53.   The context to this verse is when the soldiers come to arrest Jesus.  Part of His response to this event is this, "This is your hour Ė when darkness reigns."  What is Jesus saying here?  He is saying that His arrest and subsequent execution is the highlight of the power of darkness.  It appears that this is satanís hour of power.  It appears that satan has won the victory over Godís plan of salvation for His people by Jesus calling this satanís hour, yet, according to Isaiah 53:10, we know that "it was Godís will to crush Him (Jesus)."  It was Godís will to kill Jesus?  So what is happening here when the soldiers come to arrest Jesus?  We have two sides of the story.  We have satan and his host, and we have God Himself, both having a hand in the arrest of and execution of Jesus.  Satan thinks that he has finally got Jesus, and will win the war against Him.  God knows better.  He is allowing this to happen because this will bring salvation to the world.  We must know that satan is a tool in the hand of God's will. 

 

Jesus not only bore our sin on the cross.  He received a horrible outpouring of Godís wrath against Him.  Beyond that, He was tormented by satan and his host in a way that had never been seen.  Jesus had both sides coming down on Him while on the cross.  God was punishing Him.  Satan was attacking Him.  Jesus had no help.  He did not call on the heavenly host of angels who had helped Him in His hour of temptation in the desert.  He was alone.  "Why have you forsaken me," Jesus cries out to God His Father.                    

 

Beyond satan attacking Jesus on the cross, verse 15 tells us that all of the powers and authorities, that is, the demonic world was crushing down upon Jesus while on the cross.  I'm convinced that we have no clue of what really transpired in the spiritual world when Jesus died on the cross.  We have no clue what Jesus went through for us.  

 

Do you see the picture of what was happening here?  By the power of the Spirit Jesus endured the cross and triumphed over the situation by rising from the dead and then ascending into Heaven.  With this victory Jesus "disarmed the devil" as Paul says here.  The Greek word that is translated as "disarmed" is the word "apekduo".  This word means "to put off from oneís self".  Jesus pushed away the powers of darkness when He was on the cross.  By pushing satan and his host away, He won the war.  That which was meant to bring evil to Jesus ended up bringing good by God to us.  The devil was hoping that this would be the end of Jesus and Godís plan of salvation, but it turned out to be the beginning of the end for the devil, resulting in good things for mankind.  Jesus indeed did win this battle with the devil.                                   

 

We should not understand the word "disarm" here to mean that the devil has no more weapons to fight with.  If you read Ephesians 6 you will note that Christians still fight satan and his world of authorities under his rule.  Jesus did not take away satan's weapons.  The word disarmed here tells us that Jesus pushed away satan from Himself.  He pushed away not only satan, but as this verse states, all the evil powers and authorities that were crashing down upon Him. In this sense Jesus won the battle.   Satan, the powers, and the authorities, are still an enemy to be reckoned with.      

 

Note that Paul says that Jesus "made a public spectacle" of satan.  The cross was a very public event.  Yes, not everyone in the world actually saw what happened on the cross.  Everyone in the world was not standing at the foot of the cross as Jesus died, but the whole unseen world, the spiritual world, saw everything that happened, and that was the important world.  The cross, although being an earthly event, was seen by the spiritual world more than it was seen by the physical world. All the angels of the universe could see the battle between the devil and Jesus.  They all saw that Jesus clearly won the battle.  This was in all reality a public event. 

 

Something else that should be said here is this.  We see the two worlds colliding at the cross.  Who was in charge, the devil or God?  We see from Isaiah 53:10 that the death of Jesus was Godís will and that it pleased Him immensely.  On the other hand we see satanís role in it all.  The bottom line is this.  Even though satan thought he had the upper hand and was the one in charge, he was actually a tool used by God to do Godís will.  How ironic.  How embarrassing and damaging it was to the devilís image.  God used the devil to accomplish His will to save mankind.  God used His enemy to accomplish what He wanted to do.  Now this is indeed making a public spectacle of the cross.  Can you begin to understand how the devil must have felt?  Here he thought that he was the winner, when in fact he lost. 

 

Verse 16 is a short version of Romans 14. To understand what Paul is saying here you need to read and understand Romans 14.  Paul says, "therefore, donít let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day."  Eating meat, drinking wine, or the adherence to special days have nothing to do with salvation.  So, if you eat meat, or drink wine, or choose not to celebrate special days, donít let anyone judge you on those issues.  Such issues have no relevance to salvation which is by trusting Jesus only.  In Romans 14 Paul says that those who don't drink wine, don't eat meat, or observe certain days, are weak in faith.  Why are they weak in faith?  It's because they canít seem to trust Jesus alone for their salvation.  They feel they have to also rely on things that they do.  For this reason they are weak in faith.  They trust in some of their own good works to maintain their salvation.  Paul argues against this type of thinking.

 

I believe that in the Evangelical world in which I was raised we had our own set of rules that must be maintained, not to get us saved, but, to keep us saved.  This is the issue Paul is speaking to here.  When I was young, working on the Sabbath was a sin that could cause you to lose your salvation, even though Sunday is not the Sabbath.  Paul would call those adhering to this thinking week in faith because keeping the so-called Sabbath was a rule added to the cross of Christ to maintain one's salvation.

 

In many of our English Bibles the word "Sabbath" is a singular noun but in the Greek text it is a plural noun.  Paul had more than one type of Sabbath in mind when he wrote these words because according to the Old Testament Law of Moses there were indeed more than one Sabbath, that being the seventh day, our Saturday.  For example, there was the seventh year of Sabbath rest for the land.  

 

When Paul says that we should not let anyone judge us for our freedoms in Christ, I wonder what that might look like.  I suggest that if someone judges us in this matter of freedom we have the right to point out the error of his ways as we defend our freedom.   

 

 Paul continues in verse 17 to say that "these things are shadows of things that were to come; the reality however, is found in Christ."  All of these Old Testament issues, like not eating certain meats and not eating certain meats were prophetic.  They spoke of a future time and place.  They in fact spoke of Jesus.  So, why would we want to make a major issue out of things that prophesied about something that had already been fulfilled?  Why would we not want to major on the fulfillment, meaning Jesus Himself?  It does not make a lot of sense to major on fulfilled shadows, but this is what some were trying to do in Colossee.  They were trying to live in Old Testament times, when those times had passed away.  They were living in the past, a past that no longer had significance to their salvation.  We still have a similar tendency today.  We want to work out our salvation on our own terms.  We want to stay saved by following are own rules and regulations. This should not be.  If you understand Galatians 3, this will become very clear to you.

 

In verse 18 we read, "Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize."  You see the Gnostics were a bit like the Judaizers that Paul confronted in Galatia .  These Gnostics worshiped angels as Paul says here.  They, like the Judaizers, lived by Old Testament law.  They performed their good works. They submitted themselves to these good works and appeared very humble in the sight of others for doing them.  Paul calls this false humility.  Paul is encouraging these Colossians not to get caught up in their way of thinking.  If they did they were in danger of "being disqualified for the prize", meaning salvation in all of its fullness.  If you could be disqualified, that would mean that you could loose your prize.  Although many would disagree, this might suggest that one can lose his salvation.  That being said, the prize Paul speaks about here might well be the rewards believers will get when they meet Jesus face to face as seen in 1 Corinthians 3.  Paul says something similar in Galatians. 5:4, but in stronger terms.  He says that you will "alienate yourself from Christ and fall from grace" if you replace your faith with works.  There in Galatians I think Paul is clearly talking about losing your salvation.  If you become alienated from Jesus, you're no longer a part of Him.  If you are then separated from Him, how could you be saved?   

 

In the rest of verse 18 you get a glimpse of who these Gnostics style people were like.  Paul says, "Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions."  Do you see what Paul is saying here?  These Gnostics thinkers claim to get special revelation from God and angels.  They appear to be very spiritual because of their great insight.  Paul calls these people unspiritual.  Their minds were puffed up with idle notions.  In other words, all of their so-called revelations were simply a product of their own overactive imaginations.

 

In verse 19 Paul goes on to say that these people "have lost connection with the Head," meaning Jesus.  They claim great spiritual insight, but in fact they have lost the connection to get real spiritual insight.  They have lost their connection with Jesus.  By losing this connection with the Head they have lost their place in the body "which grows by God causing it to grow."  Also, if they have lost their connection with Jesus, they have been cut off from Him and are no longer His, or no longer Christians.  I suggest that the grammar of this statement, that is, the fact that these people have "lost their connection with Jesus" tells me they once were connected with Jesus.  If you are no longer connected to Him, and if what Paul says in Romans 8:9 is correct, and that is if you do not have the Holy Spirit you don't belong to God, how could these people still be saved?  

 

Verse 19 speaks of the Body of Christ.  I believe the term "Body of Christ" as Paul uses it in his writings is more than a metaphor for the church.  I don't think we should take the term as being symbolic.  I think Paul literally believed that the church is Jesus' replacement body on earth. When Jesus went back to Heaven, He was no longer here in physical form.  For this reason He returned via His Spirit.  He entered the lives of the believers, both individually and collectively, and by so doing, found a new body to live in.      

 

In verse 20 Paul speaks of us dying with Christ.  This is another issue Paul details in Romans 6.  Really, to understand much of what Paul says in his letters you must first study Romans and understand what he says there.  Only then will you understand statements like this in verse 20. 

 

From God's point of view, when Jesus died, we died with Him.  Why is this so?  It's so because Jesus died on our behalf.  So, when Jesus hung on the cross, because He was there in our place, God saw each of us on the cross.  Therefore, in that sense of the word, our sins were forgiven because we, in Jesus, were being punished for our sins. 

 

When Jesus died on the cross, He died to this world.  His time in human form was finished.  No longer was He burdened down with living in this sinful world.  Since, in one sense of the word we died with Jesus, we also died to this world.  We have been separated from the world and united with the Heavenly world.  For this reason Paul asks that if our attachment to this world is dead, why are some of these people living like the attachment to this world is still alive. 

 

Note that Paul includes obeying Old Testament laws as being an attachment to this world.  That would drive many Jews crazy, and, if many Evangelicals today actually understood what Paul says here, it would probably drive them crazy.  Both God's law in Old Testament times and any of our Evangelical laws today are a product of the world that we are supposed to be separated by death.     

 

In verse 21 Paul sums up these laws; "Do not handle, do not taste, and do not touch," all sounding like the rules I grew up with in Evangelicalism.

 

In verse 22 Paul says that all these rules are destined to perish because they are human rules, and, we know that all things pertaining to humanity will someday disappear.

 

Paul ends this chapter by saying that all of these rules and regulations that these people are attempting to follow may look wise, but following them as they were doing in fact was not wise.  It was a false humility and besides, following rules does not stop us from indulging ourselves in our own sinful nature.  Really, only the Holy Spirit can cause us to leave our sinful ways behind, and here again, this is the message of the book of Romans, as seen in Romans 8.   

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