Summary: This sermon proclaims the good news that salvaion is not something we earn by adhearance to legalistic obedience to the law, but it is freely received by the work of Jesus Christ.

The Supremacy of Christ is Defended Against

Religious Legalism

Colossians 2:11-17

October 14, 2001


A. Last week, Bob Russell of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY began a series of sermons on the book of Colossians with these words…

"Sometimes I look over this audience and wonder how many really understand what it means to be a Christian.

Are we here because we get a good feeling or it’s the in place to be, or we want to keep our family happy, or we like playing ball?

Or are we here because we are genuinely committed to following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

B. Do we really understand Christianity? Do we really understand salvation?

1. Today, I’m here to say that there are many in Christendom who do not understand.

2. There are many who think that Christianity is a list of do’s and don’ts.

3. There are too many who enforce their list of do’s and don’ts on other people.

4. But, my friends I am here today to say that Jesus Christ is superior over this dreaded spiritual disease called legalism.

5. Legalism is nothing more than a slow death that will lead even those who profess to believe in Jesus straight to hell.

6. Keeping your list of don’s and don’ts will never save you.

7. That’s what every other religion on the face of the earth teaches: earn your salvation.

8. Only Jesus Christ says, "Here’s your salvation, take it, its free."

9. But, unfortunately, too many of those even in Christendom prefer legalism to Jesus.

C. ["Real" Truth, Citation: A. W. Tozer in Power for Living (Oct. 16, 1977). Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 13.

There is today an evangelical rationalism which says that the truth is in the Word and if you want to know truth, go learn the Word.

If you get the Word, you have the truth.

That is the evangelical rationalism that we have in fundamentalist circles: "If you learn the text you’ve got the truth."

This evangelical rationalist wears our uniform.

He comes in wearing our uniform and says what the Pharisees ... said: "Well, truth is truth and if you believe the truth you’ve got it."

Such see no beyond and no mystic depth, no mysterious or divine.

They see only, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord."

They have the text and the code and the creed, and to them that is the truth.

So they pass it on to others.

The result is we are dying spiritually.

To know the Truth, we must "know" the Son.

D. [Legalistic Strait Jacket, Citation: Richard J. Foster in "TSF Bulletin," Nov.-Dec. 1982. Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 2.]

Nothing can choke the heart and soul out of walking with God like legalism.

Rigidity is the most certain sign that the Disciplines have spoiled.

The disciplined person is the person who can live appropriately in life.

Consider the story of Hans the tailor.

Because of his reputation, an influential entrepreneur visiting the city ordered a tailor-made suit.

But when he came to pick up his suit, the customer found that one sleeve twisted that way and the other this way; one shoulder bulged out and the other caved in.

He pulled and struggled and finally, wrenched and contorted, he managed to make his body fit.

As he returned home on the bus, another passenger noticed his odd appearance and asked if Hans the tailor had made the suit.

Receiving an affirmative reply, the man remarked, "Amazing! I knew that Hans was a good tailor, but I had no idea he could make a suit fit so perfectly someone as deformed as you."

Often that is just what we do in the church.

We get some idea of what the Christian faith should look like: then we push and shove people into the most grotesque configurations until they fit wonderfully!

That is death.

It is a wooden legalism which destroys the soul.

1. My friends there is a much better way and His name is Jesus Christ!

2. Let’s look at how Paul dealt with the disease of legalism in Colossians 2:11-17.

I. Christ has done the real circumcision.

Colossians 2:11, In 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,

A. Let me quickly explain what Paul is talking about here…

1. As you may know, circumcision is the cutting off some extra flesh from males.

2. God actually instituted this in the OT as part of His covenant with His people.

3. God told His people to cut off this flesh as a sign of their covenant with Him.

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