Summary: The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ, part 13 The Futility of Christless Spirituality Colossians 2:16-23 David Taylor April 25, 2015
The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ, part 13
The Futility of Christless Spirituality
We are in finishing chapter two of Paul's letter to the Colossian church, in our series, “The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ.” Paul wrote this letter helping the Colossian church to see Christ as supreme over all things and sufficient for our every need in the midst of false teaching that aid otherwise. This is especially evident in this passage today where Paul argues for “The Futility of Christless Spirituality” by demonstrating that Christ is completely sufficient for our spiritual growth. Biblical spirituality is not self generated but is the result of new life that God creates in the human heart by the gospel. We are not only saved by faith but we grow spiritually by faith. Any spirituality that veers from Jesus veers into a Christless spirituality.
Legalism Undermines our Spiritual Growth (v. 16-17)
Paul draws a conclusion to his previous statements about our fullness and completeness in Christ, 'therefore do not let anyone pass judgment on you.' That is, tell you that you are incomplete or lacking in your faith because you are not adhering to their rules. Legalism prides itself in being spiritually superior to those who do not adhere to their specific rules. The classic example is found in Luke's gospel, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Do you sees the contrast? He is not saying that all judging is wrong but only judging based upon man made rules that implies that we our faith is insufficient or incomplete in Christ. The false teacher is saying that a Christian must adhere to foods and days given to Israel under the Old Covenant as necessary for spiritual growth. Christians can follow the food laws and holy days but not necessary nor required. Paul describes them as a shadow but the substance is Christ. They pointed Israel to Jesus Christ and so their purpose is fulfilled in Christ; they are now obsolete. To enforce them as necessary is to go backwards in redemptive history and see them as a means of spiritual growth undermines the gospel. The tragedy is that in their attempt to define their own spirituality, they created a Christless spirituality, abandoning the sufficiency of Christ, living in the shadows, and undermining their very salvation and spiritual growth. Christ is completely sufficient for your salvation and your spiritual growth.
Mysticism Undermines our Spiritual Growth (v. 18-19)
Mysticism is attempting to gain union with God or apprehend special knowledge through contemplation or some form of surrender. 'Don't let anyone disqualify you who delights in asceticism, the worship of angels, and goes on about visions.' The false teacher is insisting on asceticism, seeing avoidance is the path to holiness. He advocated the worship of angels. We are not certain what that means but we do know this - angels were getting more attention than Christ. He was more excited about angels than Christ. He was also bragging about his personal visionary experiences. This false teaching saw these activities as the path to spiritual enlightenment and spiritual growth yet it was just an expression of his own pride, “puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind.” It was PT Forsyth that said, "the truth we see depends upon the people we are." At best he is ruled by his flesh or at worst he does not have the Spirit. Here is the issue for legalism and mysticism – seeking spiritual enlightenment and spiritual growth by delighting in these activities rather than delighting in Christ. The futility of Christless Spirituality is that it does nothing for your spiritual growth. Christ alone is sufficient for your salvation and your spiritual growth. Listen to what Paul says about this false teacher, “not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth from God.” This teaching leads to trusting in oneself and not Christ. You are only going to gain spiritual enlightenment and spiritual growth by holding fast to Christ, He is sufficient. Christ is your only source of spiritual nourishment.
Christ Is Sufficient for our Spiritual Growth (vs. 20-23)