Summary: An exposition of Col. 2:16-19

Colossians 2:16-19 Clint Meade Cornerstone Baptist Church, 9-30-2007

Along with the rest of the western world, I have been watching the events that are unfolding within Venezuela and Iran.

Those two nations are being led by two very dangerous men.

Both Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran are ruling those countries with an iron fist.

The amazing thing is…..the people of those countries have chosen to let themselves be subject to these men… who have pledged themselves to the destruction of democratic principles.

As I think about places like Venezuela and Iran, I find myself wondering…..why do people surrender their independence to such men?

As a free people, we can all wonder why anyone would give up their independence to live under the rules of another.

Yet, history shows that such things are nothing new.

Eccles. 1:9 ………….

“What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.”

As Paul wrote Colossians 2:16-19, I believe he was seeking to warn the Colossian believers not to let anyone deny them of the freedom and independence they have in Christ.

The Gnostics were there trying to do just that with their so-called “superior knowledge”.

I believe Paul’s warning to the Colossians extends to modern day Christians as well.

As I’ve studied these verses, the Lord has shown me three things that Paul was saying to the Colossians in these verses.

As with all of Scripture, I believe these verses are God-breathed.

First, I believe Paul was saying……


Col. 2:16-17 ……….

“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. [17] These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

Paul’s warning exposes the danger of the legalism of the Gnostic teachers in Colosse.

The Gnostics thought they had a far greater spiritual knowledge than others.

Gnostic doctrines were a mixture of Philosophy, Jewish legalism, and Christian teaching. Apparently though, the Jewish legalism was a big part of it.

Of course, Jewish legalism involved a lot of dietary rules and rules about certain designated days.

Under the Old Testament system, certain foods were classified as “clean” or “unclean”.

But I remind you of the words of Romans 14:17 ………….

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,”

The Old Testament Jew was commanded to keep the weekly Sabbath, which was the seventh day of the week.

The Jews had their feast days and other special celebrations too.

Their religion was tied to the calendar.

Paul wrote in Galatians 4:8-11………..

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. [9] But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? [10] You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! [11] I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.”

The Old Testament rules and laws served their purpose, but they weren’t meant be a permanent part of the faith after the coming of Christ.

The Law was merely a schoolmaster that helped to train and discipline Israel to prepare the Jewish people for the coming of the Messiah.

Does this mean that the Old Testament Law has no ministry to New Testament Christians?

No, the Law still reveals the holiness of God.

The Law reveals sin and warns of the consequences of sin ….but it has no power to prevent sin or redeem the sinner.

Only grace can do that.

As a result of the influence of the Gnostic false teachers, rules and rituals had gotten a foothold in the Colossian church.

Some believers were reverting back to rules and rituals and judging others by them.

These false teachers were diverting the attention of some believers away from Christ.

They were saying that rules and rituals were to be the focus of man’s attention and life.

They were saying that man became acceptable to God by keeping certain rules and rituals.

They were saying that man pleased God by eating and drinking the right foods and by keeping certain religious rituals and holy days.

For some reason, human flesh thrives on looking “religious.”

Somehow, keeping religious laws, rules, and rituals enables people to justify their self-righteousness.

Make no mistake, legalism of any kind is nothing but bondage.

Peter said to the Pharisees in Acts 15:10 ………..

“Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?”

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