- Lesson 8 from the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “The Fullness of Christ” focuses on Colossians 2:16-23.
The Apostle Paul wrote to encourage Christians in Colossae who were being spiritually browbeaten by others to add more things to the complete salvation God had provided for them. Their tactics came in three forms: legalism, mysticism and asceticism.
People today practice numerous types of spiritual intimidation. They insist Christians need to do things to improve their standing with God. Sometimes, the coercion is transmitted through lists of rules that people must follow. The most insidious strong-arming connects cultural biases, values, or agendas with the mandate: Real Christians believe this! The clear implication is that if you have a different opinion, your faith must be fraudulent. Paul delineated a few types of spiritual bullying in Colossians 2:16–23.
Legalism purports that one’s standing with God can improve through doing things. In verses 16–17, Paul addressed spiritual bullies trying to pass judgment on what others do or don’t do. Notice that Paul’s first word in verse 16 was “therefore,” which introduces a conclusion based upon what was said beforehand. Paul emphatically stated that you are not to let anyone judge or intimidate you. Why? Because Jesus has saved you completely.
Christ or cultural bias?
Every culture, if not alert, will bring cultural biases into Christianity and make them synonymous with the faith. As a believer, you must stay alert to what is gospel truth and be able to identify cultural shadows added to the message as an attempt to control you or others. The substance of Christianity is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Let the living Christ guide you into what you should do or not do. The indwelling Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth (John 14:16–17, 23–26; 16:7–13), by reminding you what Jesus taught and did, and by speaking to you through the Bible.
Paul bluntly warned the Colossian Christians to remain alert and stop letting religious fads or con artists swindle them out of the prize they had received in Christ (Col. 2:18). If you have Christ living in and through you, there’s no need to let others rob you of enjoying him while chasing after some mystical encounter. As a Christian, you have died to self and the myriad of rules which try to control you (Col. 2:20). Paul was adamant: do not bring asceticism into your life as the master. Jesus is the Master; let him control your body, self, and appetites. Human-made rules are pointless (Col. 2:21–22).
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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