Thursday, November 25, 2021

2021.11.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 2:16–19

Read Colossians 2:16–19 

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom should believers let judge them in these matters (Colossians 2:16)? What five matters are named? Is the fifth one singular, or plural? What does Colossians 2:17 say these plural sabbaths, and these other four things, were? Who gave these “shadows” and where? When would the body, to which these shadows belonged, come? Who is the body to which they belonged? Of what might believers be cheated (Colossians 2:18)? Whom should they permit to cheat them? In what two things might such cheat-ing religion delight? Into what might such cheat-ing religion intrude? What kind of mind does such religion demonstrate? What does this fleshly mind do to a man? What does holding fast either to shadows or to manmade ideas in religion keep us from holding fast to (Colossians 2:19)? 

 What sorts of things threaten to keep us from holding fast to Christ? 

Holding to shadows and outward forms, Colossians 2:16-17. The Mosaic administration had food laws, feast days, and sabbaths that were shadows of Christ. In every age, there have been Christians who were tempted to observe such regulations—and even those who have judged others for not keeping them. But finding meaning in the shadow, after Christ has come, is a diversion from clinging to Him Who is the Substance (body). Rather than the multiple high-day sabbaths of the Jewish calendar, they were to cling to Him Who revealed Himself as the LORD of that Sabbath which had been instituted even in the Garden of Eden. In the New Testament, Christ is even more obviously the Substance of such ordinances as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and especially the New Testament Sabbath, which Scripture actually calls “the Lord’s Day.” We must be careful to engage Him Himself in these ordinances and not focus on the rites and external forms. 

Observing man-made religion, Colossians 2:18. If we are to beware of missing Christ Himself as the Substance of biblical religion, much more must we resist any religion whatsoever that hasn’t been given to us by God. For, we cannot give Christ to ourselves. What fools we would be if we invented religious things to do and claimed that the substance of them was Christ! It’s ironic to come up with rituals that purport to express or foster humility (Colossians 2:18), when the very coming up with it is an act of arrogance—taking for oneself the divine prerogative of inventing religion. False teachers had introduced such things in Colossians, as well as the worship of angels. But how could a fleshly mind create true religion, when we have no access to genuinely spiritual things “which he has not seen”? 

These are things that cheat us, Colossians 2:19 (Colossians 2:18a). From Christ, our Head, alone is the whole body nourished. From Christ alone is the whole body knit together. From Christ alone can the whole body grow. God alone gives the growth, and He has given that growth in Christ alone. Adding anything because it feels meaningful, or we think it feeds us or grows us, is to cheat ourselves of Christ. 

Hold fast to Christ, the Substance—Christ, our Head! 

What are some man-invented religious observances that people today think are spiritually meaningful or helpful? Why is it so important not to observe them? 

Sample prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You have given Yourself to be our spiritual life in Jesus Christ. You alone can give life and growth, but we cheat ourselves and let others cheat us by failing to engage Christ in the religion that He has commanded. Even worse, we have even thought that manmade religious days and actions could have spiritual value. Forgive us, O Lord, and make us to cling instead to Christ. For we ask it through Him, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH354“Not All the Blood of Beasts"

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