Colossians 2: 8-10
We are studying the book of Colossians. In today’s teaching Paul launches in a long
list of some of the thoughts and practices that move beyond the simple truth of
the Gospel beginning in verse 8 to the end of the chapter. It’s best we examine these verses in little
bites while not forgetting that Paul is refuting ideas and concepts that were
inconsistent with the gospel.
Before we start let’s once again consider the gospel, what
it is and how to become a part of it.
The gospel is the good news that God has intervened in human history to
repair the damage sin has created and bring people into a right relationship
with Him. The gospel is the story of
Jesus, God incarnating, fully God and fully human, revealing to us the nature
of God and humanity untainted by sin. Jesus through signs, wonders, miracles,
parables, and actions calls everyone to seek God’s favor. Then the One Jesus called Father, placed all
the sin of the world, Adam’s sin, your sins, my sins, upon Jesus, and on a
cross Jesus was executed to create an atonement so that we who believe may be
forgiven, reconciled, and adopted into God’s family. Then the Father validated everything Jesus
taught by resurrecting Him from death 3 days later on that first Easter Sunday
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son,
his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by
believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
John 3:16 (MSG)
God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the
conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been
kidnapped by the law.
Galatians 4:4 (MSG)
In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything
wrong, so we could be put right with God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (MSG)
That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of
others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it
all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.
1 Peter 3:18 (MSG)
The scriptures also tells us how to become a partaker of the
Romans 10:8-10 (MSG)
It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and
set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. 9 Say the welcoming
word to God—"Jesus is my Master"—embracing, body and soul, God's work
of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That's it. You're
not "doing" anything; you're simply calling out to God, trusting him
to do it for you. That's salvation. 10 With your whole being you embrace God
setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set
everything right between him and me!"
Bend the knee to Jesus and He makes everything right between
you and God. If that is your heart’s
desire today acknowledge that you need this gift of God. Believe that Jesus is
exactly who He says He is and has made a way for you to be right with God then
commit yourself to being His disciple for this is how you learn to be right
That’s the gospel.
Colossians 2:8-10 (MSG)
Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words
and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments
that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty
traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But
that's not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you
can see and hear him clearly. You don't need a telescope, a microscope, or a
horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe
without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too.
His power extends over everything.
To discover what is going on behind these words we have to
dig into history, into the culture that the Colossians were immersed in. Remember we only have Paul’s answers and
corrections, his readers knew the questions and problems.
The phrase “drag you off” suggests what happens in the slave
market. The slave is bought and then
dragged off to do the will of his or her new master. Big words, impressive credentials, Jesus
jargon accompanied with ecstatic experiences, angelic utterances, and spiritual
trances may seem impressive but it’s just to dazzle you, to drag you away from
the simplicity of the gospel: Christ in you the hope of glory (Colossians
Again we must consider the writings of the Gnostics. Basically the Gnostics were a group of, for
lack of a better term, believers, who reinterpreted the gospel in accordance
with their philosophy of life. They wanted to communicate the gospel in a
culturally relevant way. But in their
quest for relevancy they created what Paul called a gospel that is no gospel at
all (Galatians 1:7-9). We must be on
guard against our quests to communicate the gospel to our culture that in our
attempts we do not misrepresent its simple truth.
We know from our previous teachings that the one of the
tenants of Gnosticism is that all matter is evil. The Demiurge, a lessor divine being created
the material universe. God’s spirit
possessed the man Jesus to be his emissary at Jesus’ baptism and the spirit of
God left the man Jesus when from the cross He uttered the words:
lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you
abandoned me?" (Matt 27:46 (MSG)
This notion destroys the incarnation, destroys the
atonement, and destroys the resurrection, a gospel “good news,” which is no
gospel at all.
The Gnostics taught that when one has the secret knowledge of
Christ; one enters into the spiritual realm of existence escaping the material
realm of existence. Then what happens in
the material is of no consequence, your escape is set. Doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do, what
happens in the material realm no longer has any bearing on your spiritual
self. Just learn the secret passwords in
order to be saved.
As one who has committed to Jesus what you do does
matter. It seems like far too many
people have accepted Christ but never have become followers of Christ. They have a religious relationship, but not a
personal relationship. They have a form
of Godliness, but not the power of Jesus manifesting in their lives (2 Timothy
3:5). They are not growing in wisdom,
wisdom is doing what you know, not simply knowing what to do. They are not maturing in the faith, their
roots are shallow, their growth is stunted, and their fruit is
unsatisfactory. They are not becoming
more like Jesus, they are stagnant, dealing with the same issues and problems
over and over again. We all struggle,
don’t think for a moment that the mature in faith no longer have things they
are dealing with, they certainly do. But
when one is continually overcome by the same things, they are stuck, they need
help. The most bizarre thing I have seen
as a therapist is people who say they want to change but will not follow any
guidelines in order to change. As a pastor I am told “I want to grow, I want to
get closer to God, I want to overcome some habit, attachment or addiction, pray
for me.” Then they ignore my counsel,
refusing to do the hard work necessary to get what they say they want. Acknowledging, Believing, Committing, and
asking God in Christ to save you is not
the finish line, it’s the starting line, the Christian life is not a one and
done, rather it is an epic adventure to be lived. What you do with what you have does matter
This secret knowledge of the Gnostics, these passwords, were
not written down, but rather Jesus told Mary and possibly Peter, who passed it
on to those they deemed worthy to be saved. These secrets where never told to the crowds
of followers, never written down, and kept the treasure of the select few. Secrecy is not part of the gospel, everything
is out in the open with us (2 Corinthians 3:12-3). The Church and everything and everyone a part
of it is to be transparent and accountable.
There’s nothing shady in the light.
Paul writes of the “empty traditions of human beings and the
empty superstitions of spirit beings.”
The empty traditions of human beings has to do with astrology, and the
empty superstitions of spirit beings has to do with angels, angels in the sense
of cosmic beings who exerted power over people. In the culture astrology was a very serious
matter. It was believed that the stars
held a person’s destiny. Your fate was there in the alignment of the planets
and stars. The only way to escape into
freedom according to the Gnostics is by knowing the secrets of Christ.
This of course is counter to the teachings of the
gospel. The scripture proclaims that we
are free from the influence of the stars.
“if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through” (John 8:36
(MSG). If you believed that your fate
was sealed because you were born under an unlucky star can you imagine the
relief you would feel when Jesus redeemed you.
Jesus takes all those superstitions and tosses them out. Taking a step beyond the text we can surmise
that such things as curses also have no power;
Fortune tellers and palm readers and horoscopes, séances, tarot cards,
the zodiac you were born under, no friends, Jesus and you fashion your life not
planets and stars (Isaiah 54:17, Colossians 2:15).
Now you may have never believed that the position of planets
and stars have sealed your fate. You may
have never believed that your zodiac sign makes you a certain way. But there are things we do believe that exert
tremendous influence upon our lives.
These things all deal with what we think about ourselves. The world can be terribly cruel, as a child
you have no defense against these cruelties. You become imprinted with a
distorted understanding of who you are.
Then as you grow these misleading self-images become self-fulfilling and
we become our own worst enemies believing the lies of neglect and abuse. The other end of the spectrum can also
cripple us, you might have grown up thinking you were all that and a bag of
chips, that you’re the best, that you deserve the best. Like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast or Lancelot
in the 1967 version of Camelot who sings about how wonderful he is (C’est Moi). A bloated ego distorts reality just as much
as a negative self-image. Jesus sets you
free from these influences. The
scripture declares that when Jesus saves you, he makes you new empowering you
to become the person He created you to be (2 Corinthians 5:17). As you overcome He gives you a new name, the
one always intended for you to identify with (Revelation 2:17). Stop believing the lies. Find out who this new person is and partner
with God by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit to become the person God
always intended for you to be.
The false teachers said, “Possess the secret knowledge of
Christ and you escape.” Paul says
believe in Jesus and you are free.
Recall chapter 1 verses 18 and 19.
“[Jesus] was supreme in the beginning and—leading the
resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there,
towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that
everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding” (Colossians 1:18-19
(MSG). Everything and everyone is
subject to Jesus. Everything you need to
know about being saved and how to live your life to the full is found in
Jesus is the remaker of broken things, the finder of the
lost, the restorer of the stolen, the liberator of the captive, the healer of
spiritual dis-ease, the reconciler of relationships, He is the way, He is the
truth, He is life (John 14:6). The Gospel is out in the open and anyone with a
searching heart can see and hear the Message clearly. All that Jesus is becomes a part of who you
Here’s what you can put into practice from the lesson today:
Don’t get spiritually off track, use common sense, so you
won’t get dragged away into uselessness by the persuasive arguments of
Presenting the gospel in a relevant manner is crucial,
misrepresenting the Gospel for cultural relevancy is destructive.
Intellectual belief or conforming to some formula or ritual
is not the golden ticket to heaven, what you do is of utmost importance. Grow deep, grow up, grow fruit.
Everything you need to know to thrive spiritually is out in
the open, public knowledge, all found in Jesus.
The stars do not control your destiny nor your past seal you
fate, Jesus sets His disciples free.
Jesus and you today create all your tomorrows.
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