Summary: Sermon 10 in a study in Colossians
“…and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”
I came very close to titling this sermon “Taking Out The Trash”. I thought of the title, opened the blank document, typed the title, inserted the scripture passage under it, saved it, and had it ready to begin work on the body of the sermon.
The next morning I got up, got ready to work, opened my computer and went to the document and deleted it. I just could not use a title that sounded glib, knowing I was going to be talking about my Savior dying on that horrible cross and taking away my sin and the eternal punishment I so richly deserved.
It would not have been an error to say that when talking about the fallen flesh and talking about the decree of debt against us He was indeed removing the most despicable stuff that ever needed to be disposed of; but it just sounded trite to say He was simply taking out the trash.
So today we’re going to talk about removals. We’re going to be respectful and reverent, and we’re going to come once more to consider in an attitude of worship the most amazing and wonderful act of love in all eternity, and the One who accomplished it.
Let’s be careful before we move forward, to look back a step. Our text verses begin in the middle of a sentence, after all, so let’s begin by reminding ourselves of what the Apostle has said up to this point.
He has come to the place of openly and deliberately warning his readers not to be taken in by worldly philosophy and empty arguments coming from the deceivers who are now found among them.
He also admonishes them not to become focused and enamored with tradition or the unhealthy obsession with angels and the spirit realm.
As I pointed out last time, there is angel worship present in modern day Christianity, and in some places although they would probably be shocked at being accused of worshiping angels, yet their teaching is frequently centered in the angelic realm and off of Christ.
Possibly more frequent though, and this goes on everywhere I think, is the tendency to focus in an unhealthy way on tradition. People become so comfortable with the usual and with the familiar that they want to do things the same way all the time and every time they meet together, and their traditions become more of an ever-present concern to them than study of the Scriptures or learning about Christ.
We all make jokes about the ‘we’ve never done it that way before’ mentality, but all joking aside let’s recognize that it manifests a faulty way of looking at things and, more than that, it represents a deeper problem with their spirituality.
The Pharisees were so steeped in the traditions of their religiosity that those things had become a higher priority for them than people, than compassion, than obedience to the Scriptures, even than embracing Messiah when He arrived on the scene.
An unhealthy focus on tradition in the church stifles growth, stagnates fellowship, quenches the moving of the Spirit and halts ministry.
So Paul warns them about all of these things and turns their focus back to Christ. “Don’t be taken in, don’t be misdirected, don’t be led back to the world and pagan beliefs and practices” he is saying, “look to Christ who is all the fullness of Deity in bodily form and is therefore the ultimate authority over all there is, on earth and in the heavens. And by the way, you are made complete in Him and He is all you need.”
Now, and this is the reason I made the division between the two sermons the way I did, he is going to go on and teach us the doctrines that establish the facts of what he has just said. What makes us complete? What does that mean, really? How did Christ exercise His divine authority and what was gained by it; what was produced, what was accomplished?