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False Additions to Christ (Colossians 2:8-23)

May 9, 2010

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh. Colossians 2:8-23

False Additions to Christ

Since Christ is preeminent, all additions to His work are false.

Paul feared that they could be carried away as the spoil of an enemy.

v     Philosophy – simple truth was not enough

  • Handed down by human tradition
    • Claimed to be passed along by “word of mouth”
    • Never told to crowds
    • Only given to a chosen few
    • But all “traditions” must be in submission to the written Word
  • Related to the “rudiments” of the world (astrology)

v     Astrology

  • Rudiments of the world
    • Can mean “A, B, Cs” of a subject
    • Can also (probably here) refer to spirits of the stars
      • Great men, cynical men, level-headed men–all believed in the influence of stars
      • Born on a good day, all is well; born on a bad, too bad.
      • Only possibility of escape from them was secret passwords and formulas
  • Special power needed to get out from under the influence of the stars

v     Circumcision – adding the flesh to faith

  • Real and unreal
    • God’s command – Genesis 17:10
    • Physical is everything, regardless of heart
    • Others
      • Exodus 6:12 – lips
      • Leviticus 26:41; Ezekiel 44:7-9; Deuteronomy 30:6
      • Jeremiah 6:10 – ear
    • Real circumcision effected a change in heart and life
    • Not just a piece of skin, but putting off all of man that sets him against God
  • Baptism – circumcision has happened in baptism
    • Leaving one way of life for another
    • A voluntary, conscious act of decision
    • A symbol – only through belief in Christ and God’s power
      • Death to self
      • Risen to new life
    • True circumcision takes place in baptism

v     Ascetic rules and regulations – Jewish laws revived

  • Specifics
    • Dietary laws – eating, drinking, not eating, not drinking
      • Matthew 15:10-20; Mark 7:14-23; Acts 10
      • “Perish with using” – v. 22; cf. Matt 15:17
    • Special days – yearly feasts, monthly celebrations, weekly Sabbaths
      • These rules are the same type of bondage that Christ had saved them from
      • This spirit of “rule-living” is still alive in Christianity today.
  • Answers
    • Christ forgives dead men’s sins
      • Dead men have no power – power of God
      • God did this to uncircumcised men – grace of God

¨      They had not a covenant with God

¨      They also became a special and peculiar people

  • Jesus blotted out the handwriting against us
    • Self-admitted debts – I.O.U.

¨      Signed by writer

¨      Admitted debts – Exodus 24:3; Duet 27:14-26; Romans 2:14-15

  • Blotted out – completely erased (ancient scribe would save paper by erasing ink, ink had no acid, could be completely blotted out with sponge)
  • Nailed it to the cross

¨      Our indictment was executed on the cross

¨      Handwriting (indictment) based on law – grace erased

  • Force and power from the law
  • Jesus stripped their power and took them captive

¨      The “powers that be” became His captives

¨      These “elemental” spirits are out to ruin mankind

¨      They are conquered forever

¨      Stripping a conquered foe (triumphant general)

¨      Cosmic triumphal train with all powers of evil beaten forever

  • All because of Jesus; He is preeminent; He has accomplished everything; no need for Gnostic knowledge

v     Special visions

  • Telling things they had seen that were not true
  • Visions of what they want to see, not what God has shown them
  • We have much to see in the Bible
  • Don’t need to be looking for something extra

v     Angel worship

  • Jesus is only one of many intermediaries
  • All of them should be worshipped
    • Worship should be reserved for God and Jesus Christ
  1. Only a shadow of the truth (v. 17)
    • Real religion is fellowship with Christ
      • In Him is all fullness
      • Ye are complete! In Him
    • Religion of rules and days is a shadow of a religion
      • Shadow/body
      • Spiritual/material
  2. These can produce a false humility (vv. 18, 23)
    • Can never speak to God, must pray to intermediaries (Angels, Mary, saints, etc)
    • Christ has made the path to the throne open to all
  3. This can lead to sinful pride (vv. 18, 23)
    • Meticulous law observance tends to sinful pride
    • No one who thinks they’re good is good, especially one who thinks they’re better than someone else
    • Philippians 2:3
  4. All is a return to unchristian slavery (v. 20)
      • Aside: (v. 21)
      • “How to read your Bible”
      • Touch not, taste not, handle not…
    • Does not free from fleshly lusts
    • Keeps them on the leash (v. 23)
    • True freedom comes not from restraint, but from death
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