Summary: The 8th message in an expository series on the book of Colossians.
The Sufficiency of Christ
11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Intro: After having sufficiently defended the authenticity and actuality of Christ before the Gnostic and pagan ideologies found within the Colossian heresy, Paul now turns his attention to the Jewish legalism found in the heresy.
Gnostic legalism was not quite the same as the brand of legalism espoused by the Judaizers. The Jewish teachers that Paul encountered insisted that circumcision and obedience to the Law was essential for salvation. The Gnostics manipulated Jewish customs and dogma (the Law) teaching that by employing these rituals they would help believers to become more spiritual. If a person were circumcised, and if they observed the holy days managing their diets, then they could become part of the spiritually elite.
In this text, Paul makes a clear statement to those attempting to pervert the Gospel by pluralizing the death, burial, and resurrection with Jewish customs and beliefs. Paul teaches that in Christ we have a complete salvation providing complete forgiveness, because Christ experienced complete victory on the cross.
I A Complete Salvation
Verse: 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Note: Circumcision – a sign of God’s covenant with the Israelites (Gen. 17:9-14).
Word: Hebrew: covenant (beriyth) a pledge or compact made by passing between pieces of flesh.
Greek: covenant: (diatheke) a disposition, a contract, a testament.
circumcision (karaith) to make an alliance or bargain. To make a covenant by cutting flesh
Note: These two words together mean a pledge or compact made by passing between pieces of flesh.
Note: In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham. God made several promises to Abraham leading Abraham to ask God how he would know that the promises would be his. God had Abraham to bring animals and then cut them in two. Then God walked between the pieces sealing His covenant with Abraham.
Then, in Genesis 22, we find Abraham being put to the test by God asking him to have faith. Amazingly, Abraham willingly offered to sacrifice Isaac. Obviously, this would demand a lot from anyone, but why was it greater for Abraham?
God had promised to make Abraham a great nation through his seed. To confirm His covenant, God required something of Abraham – a sign of faith – circumcision. The circumcision was to serve as reminder of the covenant made between God and man.
Note: While circumcision was a physical operation performed on all Jewish boys on the eighth day after his birth, the ritual obviously had a greater spiritual significance. The cutting away of the male foreskin was a graphic way to demonstrate that a man needed cleansing at the deepest level of his being and that it could only occur as a result of being in a covenant relationship with God in which God provided a satisfactory sacrifice to cover the sin of man. And just as it was for Abraham, the physical act of circumcision was to be a symbol or outward demonstration of the cutting away of sin from the heart of man.
Issue: The problem for the Israelites was that they trusted in the physical and not in the spiritual. And a mere physical act cannot convey spiritual grace. Throughout the Old Testament, we discover that God never intended for circumcision to take the place of grace. In fact, God often warned His people to turn from their sins and experience a spiritual circumcision of the heart (see Dt. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4)
Note: People make the same mistake today when they depend on baptism and the Lord’s Supper for salvation.
Note: Paul’s uses of the word baptism in this text in a figurative sense. No amount of water could bury a person with Christ or make him alive in Christ. Water baptism is merely a symbol or picture of a genuine spiritual transaction. Like circumcision, it is intended to be an outward demonstration of an inward commitment.