Beware of Heresy!
15 January 2017 PM – Colossians 2:16-23 – Col16 – Scott Childs
Introduction: False religions and cults attract people by the religious activities they do. It is part of the human nature to want to “DO” something to make us acceptable to God. The Old Testament Law did not save. It condemned. Paul wrote in Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” We are not saved by what we DO. We are saved by repentant faith in Christ alone.
Transition: In this section, Paul warns the Colossae believers and us of three things we must not do.
1. Let No One Judge You (v.16-17)
a. “Therefore” refers to the previous section.
1) Christ gave us many Spiritual Provisions.
a) He gave us a new circumcision (v.11-12)
b) He made us alive (v.13-14)
c) He enabled our victory over sin (v.15)
2) Therefore, these provisions from Christ are all that we need for salvation. Christ DID all that was needed. We need not DO anything except repentantly believe.
3) Peter Pett states, “Paul now stresses that because of the victory of Jesus Christ on the cross all ritual requirements has been done away.”
b. False teachers wanted to add to Christ’s provisions
1) They insisted that the Christians keep ceremonial rules regarding eating and drinking in a portion of a feast, or new moon festival or Sabbaths.
2) In the Old Testament, God gave the Jews ceremonial rules for the meals associated with feasts and Sabbaths. Those were looking TOWARD Christ.
3) Paul states here that they were only a shadow of things to come but the body is of Christ. A body casts a shadow but the shadow has no substance. Only the body is real. The O.T. ceremonies helped the people look into the future for salvation in Christ. Now that Christ has provided our salvation, we have the real thing (the body). We have no need for the shadow anymore.
4) Using this section to claim that a Christian is not subject to God’s moral laws and separation standards is a misapplication of the passage.
5) Pett comments, “Requirements such as these had their purpose but they have now been done away (see Heb 8:5; Heb 10:1). They are no longer binding. Now [that] Christ is come shadows fade into the background.”
6) Christians are not to let heretics judge or condemn them because they do not follow rules that were only shadows of new life in Christ.
2. Let No Beguile You (v.18-19)
a. Note first God’s warning to us
1) Let no man beguile you! The word “beguile” means 1. to decide as umpire against someone, 2. to defraud or beguile of the prize of victory. Thayer’s Lexicon It is to declare one unworthy of a prize.
2) What is the reward?
a) The reward may refer to Christ as our Saviour. By adding works to God’s plan of salvation a person actually makes himself unworthy to receive God’s salvation. Salvation is not of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
b) The reward could be the prize of heaven itself. (Philippians 3:14) “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
c) It could be a crown received in heaven for faithfulness to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 9:25) “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”
d) Whatever the reward, Paul did not want the Colossian believers to be declared unworthy to receive it.
b. Next, note the heretic’s false teachings
1) They required a voluntary humility which was a delight in or wish for humility. Humility is not something that we do. It is something we are when we have a proper fear of God and a right perspective of ourselves.
2) The word “worship” in this verse is not the usual word for worship. This word refers to religious discipline. The false teachers in Colossae made religious contact with angels and intruded into things of the unseen world. Warren Wiersbe wisely states, “In bypassing the Word of God and the Spirit of God, they were opening themselves to all kinds of demonic activity – because Satan knows how to give counterfeit experiences to people (2 Cor. 11:13-15).”
3) Evidently they were promoting a worship of God through the angels. However, trying to reach God through anyone other than Jesus is idolatry. (1 Timothy 2:5) “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”
4) These false teachers were vainly or causelessly puffed up by the flesh of their minds. False humility that moved them to worship God through angels was puffing them up in their flesh. Their false humility was really fleshly pride that would lead to their destruction.
5) We do not need a religious experience, a vision or a revelation. What we need is an intimate communion with God. We need a close fellowship with God.
c. These heretics failed to hold the head (v.19)
1) A physical body has many joints and ligaments and is supplied and joined together by God, but if it is missing its head it cannot live.
2) These false teachers had a lot of outward show but they did not hold the Head, which is Christ. Without Christ as their Head, their religious teachings were dead.
3. Do Not Submit to False Ordinances (v.20-23)
a. True Christians are dead to the world
1) The word dead speaks of separation. In physical death, the spirit is separated from the body. In spiritual death the soul is separated from God.
2) At salvation, a believer dies with Christ to the rudiments or basic elements of the world. He is separated from the world. He is no longer part of their system.
b. If dead, why submit to the worlds decrees?
1) A Christian who is dead to the world through faith in Christ has no reason to submit himself to the ordinances or decrees of the world … after the commandments and doctrines of men (v.22). Any commandment or doctrine of men that has no biblical support is of the world. Jesus also rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for this. (Matthew 15:9) “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
2) The false teachers at Colossae were insisting that their followers obey ceremonial rules about what they touched, tasted, and handled.
3) Such rules had an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, yet they provided no solution for the indulgences of the flesh. Refraining from such ceremonial things would not help them overcome their sinful flesh.
4) Again, we must not confuse these ceremonial restrictions with separation from sin and godly living which have a clear biblical basis. These we are to add to our faith (2Pe 1:5-7).
Conclusion: If you have been saved by repentant faith in Christ, your salvation is complete. There are no ceremonies or rules you must keep to aid your salvation. Jesus paid it all!
If Christ has saved you, He has given you a new life. Yes, there are many things you must put off and put on as you grow closer to Christ, to walk in the Spirit and to stay in His sweet fellowship, but they are not part of your salvation.
Song: Jesus Paid it All, 125