Monday Colossians: Picking Back Up

It’s been a while since the last post in this series.  Actually, it’s been about seven weeks.  Sorry for the delay.  I guess summer got in the way.

In our last post, we examined Colossians 2:16:

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.

The topic of “judgment” is definitely a big deal nowadays, so the key to understanding this passage is to understand the context of this particular verse.  To help you gain this perspective, I’ll point you back to the last post, “Don’t Judge Me, Bro“.  To summarize, I’ll re-post this paragraph:

Here, when Paul says “don’t let them judge you,” what He is doing is pointing the audience back to the cross of Jesus Christ.  He’s reminded them he wants them to be mature in Christ.  He’s told them that others will try to delude with plausible arguments.  But he says that instead of falling prey to the judgment of others, Christians — us, we — should simply abide with Christ and walk with Him in the way we received Him.

Paul’s goal for the audience of this letter — then and now — is for them to be mature in Jesus Christ (v. 1:28).  Being “mature” in Christ obviously means having a clear understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And when others try to make us feel guilty and pull and tug us back into “religious activities,” we need a firm and clear understanding of this gospel to aid our walk with Jesus.

In the last few verses of Colossians 2, the Apostle Paul will deliver a strong message against “self-made religion.”  This is a message I need to hear over and over again.  Lord willing, we’ll take a look at these verses in the coming weeks.


“Monday Colossians” is a weekly Bible study series from the book of Colossians.  All Bible quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible translation.  You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.  

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Monday Colossians: Don’t Judge Me, Bro (v. 2:16)

[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.  (Colossians 2:16 ESV)

For many, these are the magic words.  “let no one pass judgment on you.”  For many of us, these words turn into some sort of grand permission slip whereby we can do whatever we want because God is love and He said not to judge me, bro.

Well, to be sure, there is a commandment here concerning judgment, but I don’t think it quite means what so many of us hope it means.  To understand what it truly means, it helps to first understand the context of the passage and to understand the context, I want to point out three prior verses in Colossians:

[Verse 1: 28] “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” – This is a verse that really helps to illuminate the Apostle Paul’s whole purpose for writing to the Colossians.  He wants to “present everyone mature in Christ.”  To do this, Paul proclaims Jesus Christ and he warns everyone and teaches them with all wisdom.  What is “all wisdom?”  It’s teaching things the way God wants us to understand them.  We are made in His image, for His glory, to be used as His instruments.

We need to remember this verse — where the overall purpose of the letter is described — so that we may properly understand the context of the message being delivered.

[Verse 2:4] “I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.” – Paul is telling the audience something so that they will not be deluded with “plausible arguments.”  Paul is delivering a message so that the audience will properly understand things in such a way that they won’t later be led astray.  So what is this very important message?  We are told in the previous passage:

[1] 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, [2] 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, [3] in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1-3 ESV)

Here’s the message:

All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Jesus Christ.

Now, these things aren’t “hidden” in such a way that they can never be found like Jimmy Hoffa’s body, but these things are spiritually discerned, which means that access to them is granted by God Himself.  And God wants us to have them.  He wants us to have a relationship with Him.  But here’s the key.  That relationship — understanding that treasure — only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It doesn’t come through working.  It doesn’t come through reading a bunch of books.  It doesn’t come through paying God back for a lot of things we’ve done.  It simply comes through Jesus.

This is a key point for not only understanding today’s passage, but for also understanding the Bible itself and for understanding Christianity and for having a relationship with God.

[Verse 2:6] Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,  – Paul wants us to be mature in Christ and he wants us to avoid the “plausible arguments” that the world will try to delude us with.  Instead of falling for the deceptive arguments of the world, he wants us to “walk in” Jesus Christ.  We received Christ with brokenness and humbleness and with humility because we were finally before God with the understanding that we were sinners.  We begged God for His grace and mercy and for forgiveness.  We accepted His offer of salvation.  This is how we received Jesus Christ and this is how we are told to walk in Him — with a moment by moment understanding of the grace and mercy and forgiveness that was shown to us.

So what does this have to do with passing judgment?  What we’ve done here is to remind ourselves of the context of the passing in which Paul is giving us this reminder about others passing judgment on us.  Here again is verse 2:16:

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.

At the time of the letter, some would come along to Christians and throw up to them questions about what they were eating or what they were drinking or about certain activities.  At that time, there was a strong current trying to pull followers of Jesus Christ away from being saved by simply grace and back into the deep waters of doing religious stuff.

Here, when Paul says “don’t let them judge you,” what He is doing is pointing the audience back to the cross of Jesus Christ.  He’s reminded them he wants them to be mature in Christ.  He’s told them that others will try to delude with plausible arguments.  But he says that instead of falling prey to the judgment of others, Christians — us, we — should simply abide with Christ and walk with Him in the way we received Him.

 


“Monday Colossians” is a weekly Bible study series from the book of Colossians.  All Bible quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible translation.  You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.  

Monday Colossians: Recapping Verses 2:9-15

Back in April, we arrived at a special section of Scripture, Colossians 2:9-15.  As we took our first look at the passage, it became clear that more time needed to be spent looking at the individual verses.  Over the following few weeks, we were able to do that.  Now that we’ve reached the end of that section, here’s a summary of what we studied, along with a link to each verse’s post.

[9] “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” – Link

[10] “and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” – Link

[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,” – Link

[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.” – Link

[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,” – Link

[14] “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” – Link

[15] “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” – Link

 


“Monday Colossians” is a weekly Bible study series from the book of Colossians.  All Bible quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible translation.  You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.  

Monday Colossians: Triumphing Over Them in Him (v. 2:15)

[15] He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:15 ESV)

Back in Chapter 1 of this book, Paul gave us some valuable insight into his ministry in verses 28 and 29:

[28] Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. [29] For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. 

Because we know his aim, we should, therefore, pay very close attention to what he is telling us.  After all, his is striving that we all be presented “mature in Christ.”  We had, hopefully, this in mind as we dove into chapter two and reached this section of Scripture:

[9] 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. (Colossians 2:9-15 ESV)

This is an amazing passage of Scripture and over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at this section a verse at a time so that we can ponder it a bite at a time.  Today, we are up to the last verse in the section, verse 15.  Let’s take a look at this verse again:

[15] He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Here, we see three things happening:

  • [15] “He disarmed the rulers and authorities…”
  • [15] “…and put them to open shame…”
  • [15] “…by triumphing over them.”

In particular, there are two things that should catch our eye here:

  • This verse is referring to a military-type of victory won by Jesus and at first it may not be apparent where Jesus accomplishes this; and
  • The verb tense here — i.e. “disarmed” — appears to be past-tense indicating this has already been done.

So, given these two observations, what is actually going on here?  The simple message is this:  this passage refers to the complete and total victory that is in Jesus Christ.  The battles may not be over that we will face, but the the final victory is won and it is won in Jesus Christ.  His victory ensures that “rulers and authorities” are “disarmed.”  And He has triumphed — already triumphed — over these “rulers and authorities” and “put them to open shame.”

Philippians 2:9-11 reminds us of this total and complete victory that Jesus has already won:

[9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

This is the truth.  This is the way things stand.  Jesus Christ is the Victor.  It doesn’t matter what the news reports.  It doesn’t matter what’s on the Internet.  It doesn’t matter what our favorite political party says.  And it for sure doesn’t matter what the local professor says.  This is the truth.  What matters is how we respond.  Will we respond by faith and abide in this Jesus?  Or will we bow our necks and be forced in the end to bow our knee?

My hope is that we all will respond by faith.  I hope this for myself, for my wife, for my kids, for those with whom I work and for those in my community.  And that’s my hope for all that will hear this message.  Though we have a strong Savior who has won the victory, the Bible also tells us this,

[17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17 ESV)

Though we are guilty, God has made a way to us through Jesus Christ.  May we take this offer.

Amen and amen.

 


“Monday Colossians” is a weekly Bible study series from the book of Colossians.  All Bible quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible translation.  You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.  

Monday Colossians: Nailing it to the Cross (v. 2:14)

“by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14 ESV)

Colossians 2:13 says this,

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,

There are three important things mentioned here:

  1. We “were dead in [our] trespasses.”
  2. “God made [us] alive together with him.”
  3. God has “forgiven us all our trespasses.”

As mentioned before, this is the gospel message.  We are sinners dead in our sins, God makes us alive (hint: before we do anything) and then our sins are forgiven.  [If you say this isn’t the gospel, then I would respond that no one comes to Christ without these three key elements.]

In the passage we are studying today, we have a detailed account of what it means for our trespasses, or sins, to be forgiven.  We’ll look at today’s Scripture in three sections.

[v. 14] “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us…” – If you are a human being, you are a sinner.  The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  And as King David reminds us in Psalm 51, our sin is committed against God Almighty, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”

The sins that we commit become the “record of debt” against us.  And these sins stand against us.

[v. 14] “by canceling the record…with its legal demands.” – Many of us look at our sins and try to balance them with our good works and gain some hope from the idea that maybe, just maybe, we’ve done more “good” than “bad.”  Well, let me dispel that ray of hope for you.  Things don’t work that way.  Our sins are our record of enmity against God Almighty.  We have sinned against Him and sin separates us from Him.  This is, in essence, a legal process and we stand guilty.  But God, in His mercy, God cancels this “record…with it’s legal demands.”

[ v. 14] “This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Logically, certain aspects of theology present a conundrum.  For example, there is the truth that God is love.  We are told this explicitly in 1 John 4:8,

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

That’s right out of the Bible so it has to be true, right?  Right.  It is true.  But this is also true,

“keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”  (Exodus 34:7 ESV) [Emphasis added]

This passage is referring to God and highlights that He is just.  Being “just” means that God is obligated to punish sin.  And as Romans 6:23 says, “for the wages of sin is death.”

So the conundrum is easy to see.  God loves us and doesn’t want to punish us, but God is also just so He must deal with sin.  But here’s the good news: Jesus Christ solves this conundrum.  How so?  Look back at the last part of this verse, “this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”  Our sin can be forgiven or set aside because legally the payment for our sin has been made.  Jesus paid for our sins on the cross.  Technically, this is known as something called “propitiation” as is described in Romans 3:25 where we are told, “whom [referring to Jesus] God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”  Legally, Jesus Christ paid for our sin and by faith we receive this gift He has given to us.

This is the gospel message of the Bible.  We are sinners.  God loves us and set aside our sin, but the penalty for sin was still due and Jesus Christ paid it for us.

Amen and amen.


“Monday Colossians” is a weekly Bible study series from the book of Colossians.  All Bible quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible translation.  You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.  

Monday Colossians: Alive With Him (v. 2:13)

God’s Word

[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,  (Colossians 2:13 ESV)

Review

Colossians 2:13 presents the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let’s take a look.

[13] “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh…” – Our status before we enter a saving relationship with Jesus Christ is that we are dead.  D-E-A-D.  We aren’t sick, we aren’t trying to do better, we’re not waiting to have more rights than wrongs on our scale.  Spiritually, we are simply dead.  A doctor won’t help us at this point.  At this point, we need a Savior.

“Uncircumcision of your flesh” likely refers to our status before a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  This doesn’t refer to an act needed for us to be saved — i.e. to be circumcised — but rather refers to the condition of our “flesh,” which is unsaved.

[13] “…God made alive together with him…” – The good news is that God can make us alive.  He can breathe live into us.  He can call us from the dead.  Let us remember that He can make us alive, but let us also remember that it is God and God only who does this act.  It is not something we do to ourselves.

[13] “…having forgiven us all our trespasses,” – While we are “dead in [our] trespasses,” God calls us and makes us “alive together with him.”  This refers to being reconciled to Him.  And if we are reconciled, it means that something has to happen to our sin — our past, present and future sin — it has to be forgiven by God.  And He does this.  He has “forgiven us all our trespasses.”

Summary

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is amazing.  We are sinners separated from God by our sin.  Then He calls us and we are reconciled to Him — we are alive! — because our sins have been forgiven.

Think about it.  While we were sinners and enemies of God, He loved us enough to call us and make us alive in Him (Romans 5:8).

Amen and amen.


“Monday Colossians” is a weekly Bible study series from the book of Colossians.  All Bible quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible translation.  You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.  

Monday Colossians: Raised With Him Through Faith (v. 2:12)

God’s Word

[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. (Colossians 2:12 ESV)

Review

There’s a powerful picture at work here.  A picture of being buried with Jesus Christ in baptism and then being raised with Him.  But as we take a closer look at this picture, there are some important details to consider.

[12] “having been buried with him in baptism…”Romans 6:3 defines “buried with him in baptism” for us: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”  This is a picture of us going down, of submitting and of us recognizing that we are guilty sinners in need of a Savior.  This is the point in our lives when we are finally dead to ourselves.

[12] “…in which you were also raised with him through faith…” – Thankfully, in Jesus, there isn’t just a going down, or a death.  If we are in Christ, we are also “raised with him.”  Romans 6:4 tells us, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

[12] “…in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” – How is this going down and coming up accomplished?  “In the powerful working of God.”  It’s not our great effort or exertion.  It’s not our great thinking or figuring things out.  God is the one who works in us and through us to call us to repentance through and in and by Jesus Christ.

Final Thoughts

This one verse is describing a supernatural action that is occurring: salvation.  This transformation that is being described — being buried with Christ in baptism and being raised in newness of life with Him — is something that happens due to the sovereignty and power of Almighty God.

But also keep this in mind: the Apostle Paul wrote these words, as breathed-out by God, to the church in Colossae.  These words would, of course, be used to find unbelievers and deliver the gospel to them, but the original audience was a church.  As they heard these words, they were being reminded to do something.  What was that?  Verse 2:6 reminds us,

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,

As believers reading or hearing this letter, we are being reminded to live in a way that follows the example of Christ.  Of course we aren’t going to be able to live a sinless life, but that doesn’t mean we can live as He did.  We can seek and serve the lowly and lost with a humility and grace that points others to the one true God.  Through the Scriptures, we can mercifully point others to God as He is found in His word.

 


“Monday Colossians” is a weekly Bible study series from the book of Colossians.  All Bible quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible translation.  You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.