Sunday, November 27, 2005

Victory over sin?

The second truth we are to believe is that in Him (Christ), the body of sins has been put off. (Colossians 2:11) Romans 6:6 tells us that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed (done away with, rendered inoperative), that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Verse 7 goes on to tell us that “he who has died has been freed from sin.” We died with Christ. Therefore we are to consider ourselves dead to sin also. I Peter 2:24 says, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” The truth here is that even though it often doesn’t feel like it, the body of sin has been dealt with. We died with Christ and therefore sin has no authority over us. If we give in to it, we do so not because it has power or authority over us, but because we choose to give in to it. No matter how powerful it seems, we are able to resist. The Bible says that no temptation has taken us but such as is common to man. But God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able. With every temptation He will make a way to escape that we might be able to bear it. (Paraphrase of I Corinthians 10:13) Do you believe this truth? If you are a Christian, you are complete in Christ and the body of sins has been put off. Trust God’s Word on this.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Complete in Him

If you haven’t read the previous two posts, it would be good to go back and read them for they provide the foundation and introduction of what we are talking about in this post. Today we are discussing the first truth (in this series) that must be believed in order to give us a firm foundation in our walk with Christ. That truth comes from Colossians 2:10 “you are complete in Him.” In the previous verse Paul wrote that in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Jesus Christ is God. All of God dwells in Him. But in verse 10, we are told that we are filled full in Him. In Christ we have everything we need for the life we are to live as Christians. No other revelation, experiences, visions or plans are needed to be what God wants us to be. We are complete in Him. He is the fullness of God and we are full in Him. Paul will argue that legalism, asceticism, or false spirituality do not provide what we need. Look at Hebrews 10, for example. Verse 1 tells us the sacrifices could never make people perfect. If they would have, they would have ceased to be offered and there would be no more consciousness of sins. In comparing what we have in Christ to the Old Testament sacrifices, he writes in verse 12 that after one sacrifice, Christ sat down. There’s the first condition. The sacrifice ceased after just one. In verse 14 he tells us that by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. There’s the second condition. Christ sacrifice took care of the sin problem for all time. We are to be rooted and grounded in this. Just as we receive Christ Jesus by faith to become a Christian, we are to believe this truth by faith. We are complete in Him. Thank God for that today as you go about living your life for Him.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

7 Facts for Christians to Believe

Paul tells us in Colossians 2:6 that we are to walk in Christ in the same way we received Him. I take that to mean “by faith”. Faith is believing God, taking Him at His word. As Paul continues His development of how we are to be grounded in Christ rather than being cheated by those who would burden us with false religion, He gives us 7 truths that we need to accept by faith. These truths provide the grounding or foundation we need in our walk with God and are found in Colossians 2: 10-15. These truths are: 1) We are complete in Christ; 2) In Him the body of sins has been put off; 3) We were buried with Him; 4) We were raised with Him; 5) All our trespasses have been forgiven; 6) He removed the law that was against us; 7) He disarmed the principalities and powers. We will look at each one of these in greater detail in the days ahead. In the mean time, it is encouraging to realize all that has been done for us by God. It is in believing the truth that we are set free to be all God would have us to be.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Don't be cheated

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he presents a strong case for avoiding the trap of worldly religion and spirituality. He tells us in chapter 2 verse 8 he warns us to “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” In verse 16 he tells us not to let anyone judge us and in verse 18 not to let anyone cheat us. This cheating takes place when we buy into the world’s concept of religion and spirituality. This false view usually involves one or a combination of three ideas: legalism, asceticism and new age spirituality.
The legalism that Paul was confronting was primarily the legalism that the Jews had settled into. Legalism is the idea that we can earn merit with God by keeping a set of rules and regulations. Sometimes Christians, who believe that a person is saved by faith and not by legal works, take on legalism as a means of spiritual maintenance or growth. Paul refutes this notion here in Colossians as well as in Galatians and Romans.
Asceticism is the idea that by depriving our body and living an austere life we can somehow improve our spiritual condition and gain favor with God.
New age mysticism involves recognizing the god in ourselves. It focuses on spiritual beings such as angels and depends heavily on inner knowledge, visions or mystic experiences to make spiritual gains.
Paul refutes all of this in Colossians 2. His point is that we need to be rooted and grounded in Christ. In Him we have everything needed for a life that pleases God and that is growing and producing the results God desires. These truths will be the focus of the next several posts here on this blog. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 07, 2005

God's Mystery, our Salvation

In Colossians 1:26 Paul speaks of a “mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations.” What kind of mystery would God have that he would keep it hidden for ages? According to Scripture, this mystery has now been revealed to His saints. “Now” means at the time Paul wrote this. That means that for ages past there has been some truth that God purposely waited to reveal until the time was right. In Romans 16:25, Paul tells us that the mystery was kept secret since the world began, but is now made manifest by the Scriptures and made known to all nations. Whatever this mystery is, God already had it in mind when He created the world! We get glimpses of what this mystery is in several passages. Romans 11:25, for example, says that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. In Ephesians 1:9ff Paul writes, “having made known to us the mystery of His will… that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him.” We see further in Ephesians 3:3-6 that this mystery was not made known to men in other ages, but now has been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel. There we have it. In the Old Testament it appeared that God had chosen one people, one nation to be His special people. But now we learn that since the beginning, God intended to bring the gentiles into the blessings of Christ offered in the gospel. In verse nine he continues, “and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It’s amazing to me to think that God wanted to show His wisdom to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. From Ephesians 6:12 we know that our battle is with the principalities and powers in heavenly places. So, it seems to me that God is using this mystery of the inclusion of the gentiles in his eternal plan to demonstrate his wisdom to his enemies – the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This is the plan of salvation that began with the people of Israel in the Old Testament era, but once Christ had come and completed the work of redemption, the mystery was unveiled in all of its splendor as the gospel was announced to all peoples everywhere. I wonder what the principalities and powers thought when once they only had to focus on one small people, but now their doom is sure as they see the manifold wisdom of God spreading like wild-fire throughout the world.