Summary: Following a list of rules and regulations will never lead to spiritual vitality. Grace demands that we avoid judging others according to our standards.
Then, because you found kneeling to be so helpful, you began kneeling during your quiet times and during family devotions. When you came to church today and noticed that no one but you knelt during prayer, you felt angry but also strangely smug because at least you were doing what everyone else should be doing.
Do you see how subtle and sneaky legalism is? Its weeds are under the surface in each of our lives. Kneeling to pray is a good thing but it can easily become the standard by which we judge other people’s spirituality. In short, if we’re not careful we’ll default to a performance-based discipleship.
That’s exactly what was starting to happen in the church at Colosse. The New Testament books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews also lampoon legalism. We must be taught over and over that everything is by grace. We’re saved by grace and we grow by grace. In our text for this morning, Paul argues that if we want to pull the weeds of legalism, we must focus on two truths…
Remember our legal standing (Colossians 2:9-15).
Resist the lures of legalism (Colossians 2:16-23).
Remember Our Legal Standing
The best defense against a performance-based faith is to remember our legal standing before God. If we understand God’s divine decree as a result of what Jesus has done on our behalf, we’ll experience amazing grace and live with the freedom that is ours in Christ. As Jesus said in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
At conversion, God issues four rulings, or decrees.
1. We are complete (9-10). Let’s look at Colossians 2:9-11: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” The phrase, “in Christ” shows us that Jesus is the center of God’s saving activity. When we put our faith in Christ, we are included in what He has done. All the fullness of deity lives in Him. As we’ve already established in Colossians, if you want to know what God is like, then look at Jesus. The phrase, “lives in bodily form,” means to “dwell permanently.” Jesus is not just a way to God; He is the only way because He is God Himself.
Listen carefully. Not only does all the fullness of God dwell in Christ, all believers are filled with the fullness of Christ. The tense of this verb in Greek indicates that this fullness is a permanent experience. One translation puts it this way: “And you are in Him, having been completely filled full with the present result that you are in a state of fullness.” If you have put your faith in Christ for forgiveness of sins, then there is nothing lacking in your relationship with God. There’s not some extra blessing or another experience you need to have.
You have everything you need if you have Christ because the fullness of God comes into your life when you receive Jesus. Friend, you do not need anything more than you already have! You merely need to understand and appropriate that which you’ve already been given.
2. We are alive (11-13a). One of the many good reasons to preach through an entire book of the Bible is that it forces me to address subjects that might not normally come up in a conversation. I’m thankful for the insights I received from Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on this passage (Victor Books: The Bible Exposition Commentary).