Warning Signs | Don't Reject Christ's Superiority, Day 4
Christ did everything necessary for you to enter into a relationship with God, and Christ provided everything necessary to sustain your relationship with God.
VERSE OF THE DAY
'And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; ' Hebrews 1:10
Are you more appreciative of things that are given to you or things that you worked for?
How does the above question apply to the Christian life? Why do you think so many Christians try to work to sustain their salvation?
“Salvation is through Christ alone.” Every Christian would agree with that statement. We are accepted by faith before the Father by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. What fewer Christians seem to have grasped is that just as we are saved through Christ, we are sustained by Christ. We move from grace-based salvation to works-based sanctification (trying to grow in our relationship with God by good works). In these verses Paul is writing to a group of believers who had lost their perspective in this area, and he urges them to rely on Christ to sustain them.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Christ never leaves us or forsakes us.
We’re told to challenge our faith and get out of our comfort zone, though God himself challenges our faith daily, kicking us out of our comfort zone and putting us in the path of His will.
While this passage states to be content with what you have, do not stress over material things for God is above all things and will sustain you through His grace no matter the situation, therefore there is no reason to stress about anything. Stress is more of an anxious human trait.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
SUSTAINED: maintained at length without interruption or weakening : lasting, prolonged // (Merriam Webster)
Read Colossians 2:16-19
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Colossians 2:16-19
In these three verses, Paul focused his attention on the implications of his teaching for Christian living.
Here Paul discussed the Colossians’ relationship to the law (2:16-17) and to the supernatural powers (2:18-19) which were so much a part of the false teaching. The tone changes in these verses.
Two commands predominate (vv. 16, 18). They form the two reference points for discussion. The first section concerns asceticism (the practice of extreme self denial 2:16-17); the other, angel-worship (2:18-19).
2:17. Paul used the words shadow and substance to contrast the incomplete nature of these former obligations with the fullness brought about by Christ.
God instituted the dietary laws and holy days as a means to foreshadow the coming reconciliation in the Messiah. The actual contrast comes from Jewish eschatology ( what was to come) rather than a Platonic dualism (material vs. immaterial). This is another way of saying that He is the fulfillment of the law.
For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God. (For Christ is the end of the law) Romans 10:4 NLT
The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. Hebrews 10:1 NLT
False teachers had no real authority over the church.
What was Paul referring to when he mentioned festivals and new moons?
Peripheral issues, such as ceremonies, angels, visions, and self-denial, were the focus of their belief rather than Christ.
How did these function in the life of an observant Jew? What role, if any, do they have in the life of a Christian?
In what ways are these a shadow of the things to come? What do these practices ultimately point to?
Read Galatians 5:1
How was following these false teachers causing the Colossians to submit to a yoke of slavery?
Are we guilty of doing the same thing today?
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Galatians 5:1 NLT
In the same way we no longer need circumcision to enter a relationship with God, we no longer need the law to sustain our relationship with God.
Christ has accomplished all that is necessary for us to have and continue in a relationship with God.
Paul strongly discouraged the Colossian Christians from following the false teachers that may appear spiritual.
Spiritual life is a matter of relationship with Christ and the heart’s commitment to Him.
Believers are free from condemnation and from OT practices required because God has completely reconciled then to Himself.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1
Against this, the Colossian believers were apparently pressured by some in the church to observe Jewish dietary laws and holy days.
What did Paul mean when he wrote “let no one disqualify you”?
"Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind," Colossians 2:18, NASB
The phrase “let no one disqualify you” is a Greek term meaning “act as umpire against you.” It could mean “let no one pass critical judgment against you,” or it could mean “let no one deprive you of spiritual reward” because you have become distracted by a quest to follow the law or have spiritual experiences.
Paul does not want Christians to be robbed of assurance and made to feel unspiritual, unfaithful, and in need of something extra—something more and higher than the cross.
This quest for super-spiritual experience, like the legalism of the previous verses, fosters pride not Christlikeness. Christ is central. Not rules. Not experiences, but Christ.
The word disqualify comes from the athletic arena where a referee determined that an athlete had violated the rules and was barred from further competition.
This threat of disqualification relates to practicing spiritual disciplines imposed by the false teachers.
Ascetic practices translate the word “humility,” but in the context of the false teaching it most likely refers to harsh treatment of the body (i.e., self-humiliation).
The worship of angels may be understood as worship improperly rendered to angels, or as worship of God performed by angels.
“Ascetic practices” and “worship of angels” are joined, suggesting that through asceticism the participants believed themselves to be partaking in angelic worship.
This worship was conducted through entrance into the visionary realm. Paul, however, identified these visions as egotistical delusions of a carnal mind.
The false teachers wanted the Colossians to follow their version of the law. How does thinking we can please God by keeping the law puff us up?
What type of language does Paul use in verse 19? What is it evocative of? How is this a helpful verse for understanding spiritual growth?
Read Colossians 2:20-23
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely 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. Colossians 2:20-23
Since believers have died with Christ (v. 11) to the elemental forces of this world, they are liberated from worldly rules.
The word regulations means literally “obligation” (v. 14).
Paul quoted some of the purity and dietary laws imposed by the false teachers, who were judging and disqualifying believers.
These dietary regulations were merely physical and temporal because once food is consumed it is destroyed.
Although the false teachers believed that their obligations promoted spirituality, Paul identified these regulations as human commands and doctrines (Isa 29:13).
Paul conceded that these regulations had a reputation of wisdom in that they appeared to provide enlightened spiritual understanding (1:9), but in reality these practices offered no help in dealing with self-indulgence.
The term for “self-indulgence” or gratification may play on the word “fullness.” This false philosophy promised a fullness of wisdom through severe asceticism, but it failed to achieve its intended goal.
Why do we have a tendency to keep a scorecard in the Christian life? How do these things cause us to submit to rules rather than Christ?
According to verse 22, where do these rules originate from? How do we distinguish human teaching from godly wisdom? How do we develop spiritual discernment?
How do legalistic rules intended to stop our sinful nature actually engage our sinful nature? Could you think of an example?
It is sin to rely on anything but Christ for your sanctification.
Paul tells the Colossians that relying on legalistic rules puffs us up and actually causes us to indulge the flesh rather than crucify it.
Our salvation was earned by works, but not our works. Christ worked on our behalf to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law.
We can add nothing to Christ’s work. To try to add to Christ’s work is to take away from it and indulge ourselves.
Sanctification: set apart as or declare holy; consecrate.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (referring to the Law of Moses) Galatians 5:16-18
Legalism is the belief that we can earn God’s acceptance or love by doing certain things or keeping certain rules. How is this toxic to the Christian life? What is the antidote to legalism?
We learned on Sunday, “if it doesn’t save you, it can’t sustain you.” In what areas of your life are you most tempted to try to “earn” your sanctification through works?
When is a time we should limit our freedom as Christians? When should we embrace our freedoms?
Consult Act 16 or 1 Corinthians 9:20.
(Acts) Paul and Silas thrown in prison … liberated by the earthquake the Lord sent. And in turn they freed the jailer by giving him the knowledge of Jesus as Savior.
When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 1 Corinthians 9:20
Read John 15:5
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
How do we sustain our faith?
What does it mean to abide in Christ?
What does abiding in Christ look like in the life of a Christian?
Thank Jesus for securing and sustaining our salvation. Pray that you would honor Christ’s sacrifice by relying on His work instead of your own. Acknowledge that nothing we do could ever add to the finished work of Christ and pray that you would continue to turn to Christ for your spiritual growth.