Summary: We do not lack anything necessary for life and godliness in our union with Christ.
Please turn in your Bibles to Colossians chapter 2. We’ll be reading verses 9-13 this morning. We’re going to pick up the trail again today in our study of Paul’s letter to the Colossian believers. The first chapter and a half was mainly about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the benefits of his saving life and death to those who trust in him for salvation. We learned that the apostle Paul was called to be a minister of that gospel, and he suffered for doing so. But he also experienced God’s power as proclaimed Christ and served the churches, and he rejoiced in the faith of the Colossians.
That is the story up to chapter 2 verse 5. Then in chapter 2 verse 6, Paul starts to turn from the lengthy exposition of the gospel toward application. His first command is that the believers are to walk in him, that is, walk in Christ. Or in other words, they are to live a life that is informed and motivated by the gospel, by the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. They are to lead a gospel-shaped life.
And if they do this, they will be protected especially from the immediate threat to the firmness of their faith, which is false teaching. Let me read verse 8 to pick up his train of thought. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
There were apparently one or more teachers in Colossae who were persuasive, who made plausible arguments about important life issues. But their teaching was not according to Christ. It wasn’t consistent with the reality that man is sinful and his only hope is the Savior. It offered an alternative hope.
And Paul was concerned that the teaching was going to get into the church and erode the firmness of their faith in Christ. So in our text today he begins to deal directly with that teaching. He begins his defense of the faith to protect these believers from the immediate threat that they face.
So let’s read verses 9-13, which contain the first land mines to blow up the lies of the devil that tempts God’s people to false hopes. Then I’ll pray for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in illuminating this text.
TEXT: COLOSSIANS 2:9-13 / PRAY
One of the ways in which false teaching gets traction in our lives, one of the ways in which we are tempted to fall for a hope that is not according to Christ is if we can be made to believe that we lack something essential to our happiness. And if someone else seems to have that essential something, we are more receptive to them and more willing to buy into what they are offering.
For example let’s throw out a completely hypothetical situation. Suppose a person ate too much and spent too much between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and he or she is starting to think, “I need to make some changes in my lifestyle. This same hypothetical person begins to reflect back on their past and is aware of various ways they failed, goals they didn’t meet, things they could have done better. They resolve to do better in the future.
They open a magazine and as they are flipping through it they see advertisements which say things like this:
Are you overweight and out of shape? We have a fitness facility.
Are you deep in credit card debt or in financial trouble? We can get you out of debt with our program.
Have you reached your goals or your potential? Let us show you how you can reach & exceed your greatest expectations.
Our person is drawn to these ads. Why? Because they all have a consistent message: you lack something important if not essential to your happiness, to living a meaningful, fulfilling life and we can help you get it. We know the key to your success. That’s a powerful message.
Paul addresses that very message in this passage. There was false teaching going around that had an appearance of wisdom according to verse 23. It appears that the teachers were saying that the right way to live, the way most spiritual and fulfilling was to practice self-denial as a religious discipline, to follow certain regulations, perhaps to worship angels and also to pay close attention to certain visions.
And because this teaching had the appearance of wisdom, it had the potential to influence the believers and shift their hope from the gospel to these other things. A believer might start to think, “You know, maybe these guys were right. Maybe they have tapped into something that I’m missing. Maybe some of my problems need a different solution than trusting Christ and looking to Christ. Maybe I’ve been too simplistic or naïve. Maybe they have the key.”