(Today’s post by Adam Cooper)
After I wrote this post I began to think about a line in the reading in verse 18 that mentions being puffed up. I initially thought of the puffer fish but then I thought of other animals that also puff themselves up: cats puff up their fur, fish puff up their bodies, frogs puff up their throats, birds that puff up their feathers, and there are many others. When these animals puff up it is to make themselves look bigger so that their enemies will leave them alone. Why then as humans do we feel like being puffed up with pride makes us more likable? Just an aside. SQUIRREL!
In the continuation of Paul’s letter to the people in Colosse he continues to uplift them and teach them more about their faith in Christ. The thing is, Paul has never met the majority of these people. Some commentaries believe that Paul actually converted some Colosse natives during his time in Ephesus and that is why he seems to have such a friendly and personal demeanor with them from the start of this epistle. The church in Colosse was predominately gentiles and it is believed that Jews were attempting to turn the Christian converts away from Christ and to an amalgam of Judaism, Oriental philosophy, and angel worship. Paul is combatting this false teaching by clarifying aspects of Christian faith that these false teachers have brought up. In verse 8 Paul warns of deceptive philosophy and worldly traditions, in verse 11 Paul talks about physical circumcision, and in verse 14 Paul references “the written code, with its regulations (NIV)” also known as “the LAW.” Paul takes his attack on “the LAW” even further by referencing the fact that these false teachers have been questioning “what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. (NIV, v.16).” Paul continues in one of my favorite verses from this reading, verse 18, “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.”
With everything Paul addresses in this epistle he always leads the reader back to the only thing that matters; CHRIST! In verses 2 and 3, “in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”, in verse 5 Paul encourages them to remain “firm [in] your faith in Christ”, in verses 9 and 10 Paul reminds them that Jesus is God, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority”, in verses 11 and 12 Paul explains that physical circumcision has been replaced by a circumcision of the heart through Christ, “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, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead”, in verse 14 Paul reminds them that “the LAW” has been replaced through the actions of Christ, “having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross”, and in verse 17 Paul reminds them that all that he has mentioned is merely the beginning, “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” In verses 20-23 Paul rebukes them for even considering the false teachings that they have been subjected to, “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”
The gist of this epistle, at least the portion we discuss today, concerns the susceptibility of believers, especially new believers, to be steered away from the true knowledge of their faith because of people who stand to forward their own agenda or who simply don’t understand the truth about their own faith. The Christians of Colosse had one of the fathers of Christianity to remind them of the truth and to help keep them on track. What I want to ask is who do the new believers around us have to keep them on track? We have a tremendous responsibility to remain true to God’s Word in all they we say, do, and teach. There WILL be people attempting to steer the new believers around us astray and without responsible and mature Christians to keep them focused the results could wind up as Paul so simply said in verse 18, “do not let anyone … disqualify you for the prize (NIV).” The prize, I believe, is eternal life through faith in Christ. I know that this responsibility may seem daunting to some but if you remember the truths mentioned by Paul in this reading and the other truths mentioned within the Word of God you cannot go wrong. All things lead back to Christ and the Word of God. If anyone tells you otherwise, question their motives, question their intentions, and question their beliefs.
I pray for discernment and wisdom in all that you do and I encourage each of you reading this today to become confident in your own beliefs and rely on the guidance of the Spirit to help others stay the course as they grow in the tremendously joyous relationship that can only be had through Christ Jesus.