COLOSSIANS-SERIES NR 8
Colossians 2: 8-10 : The Fullness in Christ!
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”
There are only TWO religions on earth: The FIRST comes out of man and all his idols. The SECOND is from the true God. There is nothing possible in between. Let us call it “Religion no 1” and “Religion no 2”. I would like to – strictly from the text – point out the attributes of these two religions.
But we must first make sure that we know what the false teaching was that the church in Colosse was confronted with. Remember, in the first message we saw that this church – already at that early stage of Christendom – had to deal with the subtle influence of false doctrine. False teachers indoctrinated the people. That is partly the reason why the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to them – to warn them against the false doctrine and to teach them the true doctrine.
We do not know exactly what false teaching was at work there, but it is clear that it was a mixture of a kind of Judaism that demanded the people to maintain things like circumcision and Saturday-Sabbath. And this Judaism was intermingled with a good dose of Gnosticism which taught that there is in every person a godly spark – one must just follow certain disciplines and honour the angels and get a special kind of knowledge of God – an insight nobody else has – to unlock this spark and then one can become a kind of minor god.
ALL this erroneous teaching did ONE thing: It reduced and diminished the glorious Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And it placed the religious HUMAN at the forefront. The HUMAN who has to do certain things and not do certain things, to supposedly progress spiritually.
What we should actually see is that – whether it is the first century’s Judaistic Gnosticism or the 2019 religions and philosophies: EVERYTHING falls under what we call “religion no 1”. The religion that comes out of MAN and his idols. And it has absolutely no connection with “religion no 2” – the religion that comes from the true God. The two are light years removed from each other. But, because “religion no 1” is so true to the fallen human nature, man is so susceptible to it.
RELIGION NO 1: Attributes:
1 Taken as captive > Instead of man getting saved for eternal life, he/she is ignorant of the fact that he is taken captive and is carried along as prey. That is always the tragedy of false religion: Man thinks he is on the good and right road, but in reality he is lost and still in satan’s grip. The road that man THINKS will get him into heaven, ends in hell. All false religion does that to man. Deception takes man as captive, the Apostle teaches.
2 Carried AWAY from Christ > It may be that the Lord Jesus does in some or other way function and is mentioned in Religion Nr 1. And man may think that he/she is a follower of the Lord Jesus. But the reality is that the person is carried AWAY from Christ. Although “Christ” is “worshiped”, Christ is absent.
3 Misleading arguments > All false religions consist of arguments and reasoning which sound and feel spiritually very engaging, but unwittingly it MISLEADS. Nothing can be more dangerous and tragic if someone is been misled, because such a person is quite relaxed and does not at all realise what grave danger he/she is in.
4 Out of MAN > The source of all false doctrine is man himself – meaning the fallen human heart and nature of man. That is the reason why the human is so much in focus: YOU must do this and YOU must do that. YOU must not do this or that. YOU, YOU, YOU. The HUMAN… Everything is so human. Instinctively one thinks of Islam’s teaching that says men who reach heaven – especially those who were suicide bombers – will enjoy 70 virgins in heaven. So much born out of the heart of man.
4 Religious rules > Man-made religion always seems and feels very authentic and convincing because it is filled with rules that has to be followed and obeyed to get into heaven. That has the result that man is secretly proud in himself – for he is doing a few things that his god appreciates and finds pleasing. One thinks about some of the Seventh Day Aventists who maintain the Saturday-Sabbath. Or people who secretly think that some or other way of water-baptism will get them into God’s good books.
6 Never reaches fullness > False religion demands high standards from man, but man never has the assurance that he already is in possession of the fullness. “Something” is always lacking. There is an inner “vacuum”, a gap, a void, a hunger that is not filled.
7 Fear of evil > Because there is such a deep uncertainty that clings to Religion Nr 1, there is always an underlying fear present. No one will probably acknowledge it, but yet it is there. Evil STILL HAS TO BE dealt with – when I have done all my duties well enough (which never happens!). The victory MUST STILL come. But for the present, I am not sure…
RELIGION NO 2: Attributes: Listen if you can hear the different “climate”
1 It is about a PERSON: Jesus Christ > Religion Nr 2 differs 100% from Religion Nr 1 in one great aspect: The truth completely concerns a Person. But it is not “king man”. It is the Lord Jesus Christ! It is about His relationship with you and your relationship Him. It is about Him in whom your complete forgiveness and atonement and restoration (the fullness) is found.
2 Fullness is in Christ > Everything everything, everything a sinner can have need of now and into eternity is found OUTSIDE of man and IN the Lord Jesus. That is one of the most difficult truths to grasp, because the inherent instinct of every person is to be the source of fullness HIM/HERSELF.
3 IN HIM > This means that the Christian believer is INCLUDED in Christ. A perfectly wonderful concept. That is the particular attribute of someone who has actively transferred his/her faith-trust over on to the 100% successful merits and benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection. Such a person is INCLUDED in Christ. It is not an inclusion that was worked by MAN, but which was worked by GOD and that is why it is successful. That is why it works and that is why it is wonderful. That means that God included the believer 2000 years ago into the birth of Christ, His obedience, His suffering, His innocent condemnation by Pilate, His death on the cross, His resurrection, His ascension, His enthronement. EVERYTHING that Jesus did, COUNTS for the believer and is imputed to the believer. The merit of all that, is transferred onto the believer’s account so that the believer can now appear before God as holy and blameless. That is the firm-as-a-rock basis from which a believer should function every day.
4 He is the head over all evil powers > A truly wonderful aspect of true Christ-centred religion is the fact that fear has disappeared. Although evil is a reality, the believer is not afraid any longer and doesn’t live in its bondage and does not have an uncertain struggle against the devil and his demons all day long. The person-in-Christ knows the truth: Christ successfully defeated the enemy 100%. And the person who is in Christ, SHARE (today already) in that victory. The Christian lives fully OUT OF that victory, and is not ON THE WAY to the victory!
5 The believer is already in possession of the fullness > Connected to the previous point: The Christian lives OUT OF the fullness that he/she already has in Christ and is not still ON THE WAY TO the fullness. False religion always have a vacuum that still has to be filled – on condition that one does this or that. True religion = the vacuum has been filled and man lives OUT OF the inexhaustible riches. Every person who is in Christ, therefore already has the fullness and does not strive towards “something” still to come.
Live and experience you and I the true religion from day to day? It is our privilege to enjoy it!
Translated by Marthie Wilson