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This passage alerts us to the danger of being deceived into accepting something less than what God has given us in Christ.
There may have been some excitement and appeal about worshipping angels, but that can never compare to the thrill in our souls of being in vital union with the living Head, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Many people today have nothing and no-one to hold onto. Praise God we have the risen Christ.
Ritual and rules will only relegate us to the shadows and ultimately bring ruin.
Christ unites us and nourishes us and brings us into an atmosphere of love that encourages growth and development for our mutual benefit.
Are we satisfied with Him?
Colossians chapter 2.16-23
Christ is the substance
It has already been pointed out that there were elements of Jewish tradition mixed into the dogma of the false teachers. In this passage Paul warns the readers against allowing anyone to pass judgment on them on the basis of the rites, rituals and regulations which the false teachers were attempting to impose on them. Dietary regulations, the observance of special days in the calendar, rites or rituals relating to food, festivals and the like were no longer necessary in Christianity. These belonged to the types and shadows of the Old Testament times (Hebrews 8.5: Hebrews 10.1), but now Christ the antitype has come. Going back to shadows would be a denial of the all-sufficiency of Christ! Paul tells them not to allow this to happen. The word “beguile” in verse 18 means to decide against so as to rob of the prize.
The false premise was, since the Colossians were not following the rules of the false teachers, then they were unworthy and therefore disqualified. They professed humility by implying that they were too insignificant to directly approach God and so worshipped angels who would act as intermediaries for them. It would seem that the false teachers also claimed and took the stand that they had received visions. However, this was without substantiation and was the result of inflated pride due to a mind puffed up by the flesh.
The function of the headship of Christ is explained in verse 19.
It is clear that the false teachers had no grasp of the Head and consequently were not part of the body. It is the members of the body who hold fast to the head. There is vital union with Him indicated by the use of the illustrative joints and uniting bands. From the Head also a full supply of nourishment is ministered to all the members of the body. The result is that there is growth and development in the body according to the increase that God would give.
Thus we are completely dependent upon Christ our Head and we have a healthy inter-dependence with other members of the body.
The implications of having died with Christ.
Paul has revealed in the Roman epistle that believers died to sin (Romans 6.2) and have died to the law (Romans 7.4), but now here he states that we have died to the elements of the world. Sin is no longer a dictator over us and the law’s demands no longer apply when we have died. Likewise the elementary principles of the world do not determine the life-style of the believer. Worldly ordinances would place restrictions to tell us what not to touch or taste or handle (verse 21). The implication is here that, if certain foods were refused, the body would be better governed and they would become more spiritual. Paul dismisses this as also did the Lord Jesus in Matthew 15.17. “Do ye not understand that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly and is passed out into the draught.” Paul says these are just the commands and teachings of men!
Summing up in verse 23, Paul is scathing. Their wisdom is just outward show, the worship they engage in is inferior, their humility is not real and their imposed rituals to govern the body have no spiritual value at all. Indeed all of that only serves to indulge the flesh!
Far better to embrace the substance of all we have in Christ and to hold fast to Him.
Next time: risen with Christ