Colossians 2

 

Thus we see here the true meaning of spiritual conversion. We see why no one is ever “born” a Christian. For to become a Christian, one must first die, and then be born again (see John 3:3,5 and comment).

Having been buried with Christ in baptism, Paul then says that we are raised with him through … faith in the power of God. The same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us from spiritual death into new life. And this will happen through our faith.

13  Before we believed in Christ we were spiritually dead. We were dead in [our] sins and in the uncircumcision of [our] sinful nature. The uncircumcision of [our] sinful nature is the condition we were in before our sinful nature was “circumcised“ or “cut away” by Christ. Then, by His grace, God made [us] alive and forgave us all our sins. By His grace, through faith, we have received new life, eternal life (see Ephesians 2:1-2,4-6,8 and comment).

14 The written code mentioned in this verse is the Jewish law, which is written in the Old Testament.8 According to this law, if anyone broke even one of its regulations, he was to be considered guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10). Such a man was condemned; the law did not forgive him.

But God, because of His great mercy and love for us, canceled the written code—that is, He canceled the penalty and the condemnation of the Jewish law. Just as Christ was nailed to the CROSS, so that written code and its condemnation have been “nailed to the cross”—that is, canceled, rendered void.

But the law couldn’t simply be canceled; someone had to pay the penalty that the law demanded; someone had to receive the condemnation for man’s sin. And someone did—and that someone was Jesus Christ. Thus when He was nailed to the cross, the law was nailed to the cross with Him. He took our punishment upon Himself. The law can now no longer condemn us (see Romans 8:1 and comment).

15 When Christ rose from the dead, He disarmed and overcame all powers and authorities. These powers and authorities are Satan and his evil spirits (Ephesians 6:12). We were once their prisoners; now that Christ has overcome them, we have been set free from their control. When we were under Satan’s control, we were spiritually dead. But on the cross Jesus overcame death (Romans 6:9; 2 Timothy 1:10), and in so doing He also saved us from spiritual death. In this way, Christ made a public spectacle of Satan and his evil spirits—of these powers and authorities. In other words, He put them to shame.

16-17 The Jewish law had two main parts: the “moral law” (such as the ten commandments); and the “ceremonial law,” which consisted of all the regulations concerning sacrifices, purification rituals, and the proper observance of Jewish festivals. The ceremonial law contained hundreds of these regulations (see Mark 7:1-4; Ephesians 2:15 and comments).

Christ canceled this ceremonial law and all its regulations (verse 14). However, some of the believers at Colosse were still observing these regulations. Not only that, they were judging and condemning those in the church who were not observing them. They were teaching that unless a person observed all these regulations, he could not be saved.

But Paul says: Do not listen to those who teach such falsehood! Man is saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. Christ has canceled these regulations; these rules have no more meaning. They are a shadow of the things that were to come (verse 17); that is, they are nothing but a “shadow” of Christ. We have only one rule, one law, and that is to obey Christ Himself.

In this we can see the great difference between Christianity and all other religions. Other religions have many rules and rituals. The followers of these religions believe that by obeying such rules they can reach heaven. In other words, for them these rules are like a road to heaven.

But in the Christian religion, such rules are not the important thing: only Christ is important. Christ Himself is the way to heaven (see John 14:6 and comment). Man does not reach heaven by following rules, but only by following Christ. Apart from Christ, there is no other way a man can be saved (Acts 4:12).

18 Some of the false teachers at Colosse were saying that in order to be saved it was necessary to do some special penance or to undergo some special hardship or humiliation. Along with that, these teachers said it was necessary to worship ANGELS; the angels, they claimed, acted as mediators between God and man. These teachers also claimed to have had special visions and ecstatic experiences, and they looked down on those who had not had such experiences.

But Paul says that such teaching and such behavior is wrong. Man is not saved by false humility, the worship of angels, and special spiritual experiences. Man is saved only by believing in Christ. Angels are not mediators between God and man; there is only one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ (see 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1 and comments). Let us not be deceived. Let us not take our faith away from Christ and put it on these false and worthless things. If we do, we shall be in danger of losing our reward, our salvation.

19 False teachers, such as Paul has described in verse 18, have lost connection with the Head, that is, Christ. They are following after idle notions (verse 18). False teachers like this do great harm in the church. The church is like a body; it is essential, therefore, that each member remains under the control of the head, Christ. Otherwise, the members of the body cannot work together, and the body will not grow (Ephesians 4:15-16).

20-21 In New Testament times, there were many slaves. These slaves had no freedom at all; they were owned by their masters, and they were required to serve their masters for life. In fact, there was only one way they could gain their “freedom,” and that way was to die! Once they died, they were “free” of their masters.

Here Paul uses this condition of slaves to illustrate what was happening to the Colossians spiritually. Paul says to them: “You have died with Christ (verse 20); therefore, you are now free from your old master, Satan. You are free from the world, from the kingdom of Satan.9 Therefore, why are you still making yourselves slaves of Satan? You have been freed from the basic principles of this world—that is, the law and all its rules. Therefore, why do you continue to submit to its rules?” (see Romans 6:6-7; 7:4-6; 8:1-2; Galatians 4:8-11 and comments).

Many people, even after they have believed in Christ, still find it hard to give up all the rules and rituals of their old religion. They say they believe in Christ, but they do not leave their old ways. But it is impossible to have faith both in Christ and in one’s old religion at the same time. Once we have become Christians, we must put away the basic principles of this world. That is, we must stop trusting in our old religious laws and rituals as a means of getting to heaven.

22 The traditions and regulations of men have to do with perishable things like food, things which do not last. And neither do these traditions and regulations last; they will all pass away. Only God’s word will remain forever.

The Jewish leaders tried to condemn Jesus and His disciples, because they did not follow all the Jewish religious rules and regulations. But Jesus said to the Jews: “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men” (Mark 7:8).

23 When we look at holy men, monks, and pilgrims, we sometimes think: “How religious they are!” They humble themselves; they do good works; they discipline their bodies; they follow very strict rules. Surely they must be very holy and wise, we think. But they have only the appearance of holiness, the appearance of wisdom. Their practices are not spiritual; rather, they are based on human commands and teachings (verse 22).

Furthermore, their practices are of no value in restraining sensual indulgence; that is, they are of no value in overcoming our sinful nature. They are of no value in obtaining salvation. If we rely on our own efforts and good works to be saved, we shall become either very discouraged or very proud; in either case we shall be relying on something worthless. Only by relying on Christ and on His righteousness will we be able to overcome our sinful nature and obtain salvation.

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