Is the Christian’s life about achieving success? Is it about performance? While most religions put the emphasis there, the Christian Faith puts the emphasis on the vital connection of man to God through Jesus Christ. The error usually comes when we try to figure out what that is supposed to look like in the lives of Believers. This is really the crux of this letter to the Colossian Church. Those who are motivated by outward shows of religion have infiltrated the church there and begun to add rituals and restrictions to the basic faith in Christ. The problem is that, any time we add to that which is perfect, we ultimately end up taking away from it. This is the case with the Christian Faith. Paul tells them in Colossians 2:10, “And you are complete in Him.” Then he goes on to explain what that means.
Colossians 2:11-15 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
As we place our faith in Christ, we are circumcised with the Circumcision of Christ as is demonstrated in baptism. That is, we are brought into a covenant relationship with Christ. (Vs. 11-12) Next we are made alive, having previously been dead in sin, (Vs. 13) completely forgiven by His work on the Cross (Vs. 14) and finally, freed from the accusations of authority of every other being in the universe as it relates to our standing with God. What we have been given in Christ is perfect and complete. Therefore, Paul exhorts these Christians;
Colossians 2:18-19 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
The danger of a strong focus on performance has the potential to “cheat” us of the “reward.” That is, that when we begin to focus on self and what we do to earn or maintain God’s favor, we disregard the perfect gift of God’s righteousness that is credited to the account of those who trust in Christ. We need to base our relationship to God solely upon the revealed knowledge of our sin and His grace applied by faith alone. We need to accept what the Bible says about our sin, Christ’s authority and God’s faithfulness to His promise or we will push Christ away as we seek elsewhere what is found only in Him.
This is why Paul tells the Believers in Colosse that those who teach them a false humility (not trusting God, or His messengers the Apostles, but imagining that these things remain a mystery), the need for the worship of angels (or the introduction of another mediator of some kind, i.e. angels, saints, or rituals), and trying to teach what they have never studied from the only source, God’s Word, will ultimately lead them to apostasy. It comes through an attitude of arrogance in denying what is revealed, in alternate forms of righteousness, denying the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement and ultimately ends in apostasy, having moved away from the central figure of the Faith.
However, this does not mean that we live without regard to holiness. He have been saved from sin and we cannot continue to live in it as though it was unimportant to God. The thing is, is that this success in the area of holiness does not come by seeking holiness in addition to what Christ has done on the Cross. The Cross is the source of holiness, not human effort. If we are truly connected to Christ, He will produce holiness in us. The problem that the Colossian false teachers had was that they were, “…not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” Jesus told the Disciples on the night of His arrest’
John 15:5-6 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
Fruit bearing, i.e. holiness, overcoming sin, growth in grace and being conformed to the image of Christ is not what leads to union with Christ, but the result of it! Rather than seeking success, we would be better off to apply ourselves to the means that God has given for us to seek Christ; to attend to His Word, both read and preached, to be a part of a solid Bible believing and preaching church fellowship and to spend time in prayer, seeking the conversion of the Spirit in our lives. Grounding ourselves in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and coming to Him daily for the grace to overcome sin is the road to sanctification. As a part of His Body, we are nourished and knit together with Him and His people and the growth that results comes from God and not from self-effort. Again, this does not mean that we should sit back and wait for God to do something, but that we should earnest make use of the means He has given and trust that He will do what only He can do, cause growth.
The call of the Christian to holiness is indispensable! Yet, it is not achieved through rituals or legalistic observances, but through a vital connection with Jesus Christ as we submit to Him through His Word and Spirit. I encourage you to listen to the audio of the message and heed the call to hold fast to Christ.
Increase From God – AUDIO