Free in Christ, Be on Guard

25 05 2020

McKee Road Baptist – May 17, 2020 Wednesday Evening – Coronavirus Emailed

Colossians 2:18-23 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and
worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed
up by his fleshly mind. (19) And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints
and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the
increase of God. (20) Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the
world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (21) (Touch not;
taste not; handle not; (22) Which all are to perish with the using;) after the
commandments and doctrines of men? (23) Which things have indeed a shew of
wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to
the satisfying of the flesh.

Note: Some strange laws that can be found in several of our states and churches.
Arizona – It is illegal for donkeys to sleep in bathtubs.
Arkansas – It is illegal to mispronounce Arkansas.
California – It is illegal to bowl on the sidewalk.
Nevada – It is illegal to drive a camel on the highway.
Wyoming – You may not take a picture of a rabbit from January to April without an
official permit.
Alabama – It is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church.
Rehoboth, Delaware – It is illegal to whisper in church.
Boston, Massachusetts – It is illegal to eat peanuts while in church.
In some churches it is illegal to Bring glitter to church.

Members cannot have assigned pews. No one can bring a colored drink to church, especially red Kool-Aid. How is it that believers get so tied down in rules and regulations? Why is it that believers in Christ insist upon living by some set of man-made rules and regulations and then imposing those rules on other people? The non-Christian community does not care if someone is eating peanuts in church. Regulations make many people “feel spiritual.”

Legalism is always a threat to the church, Paul says to the Colossians, “Let no one man
therefore judge you” Colossians 2:16. We are to ignore their judgment. But remember,
the only way to truly ignore those who are condemning us is to know that they are
wrong. It is knowing the truth that sets us free from judgement.

Now Paul moves from legalism 16-17 to mysticism in verses 18-19 and then to
asceticism in verses 20-23.

Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and
worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed
up by his fleshly mind.

There were those in Colosse teaching a certain kind of mysticism. Mysticism may be
defined as the pursuit of a “deeper” or “higher” religious experience. That spiritual reality
is perceived apart from the human intellect and natural senses. It looks for truth
internally, weighing heavily on feelings.

Paul opens this section by saying, “Let no one man beguile you of your reward.”
Commenting on this verse, one man writes, “Paul says man-made rules and regulations
will disqualify you from the prize. The prize that Paul is referring to here is clearly
heaven. Paul is saying that human rules and regulations will disqualify you from heaven.
Following merely human rules and regulations will keep us out of heaven.” Paul is not
talking about losing your salvation.

The Greek words translated here as “beguile you of your reward” literally means: “to act
as a judge or umpire;” to decide against one, or to declare him unworthy of the prize.
The attitude of the false teachers would involve their sitting in judgment as to the future
reward of those who refused their doctrine. Paul speaks from the standpoint of their
claim. The false teacher judges as a referee that the Colossians were not worthy to
receive a prize. They disqualified, condemned and judged them as not worthy of a
reward.

Paul tells the Colossians, “Let no man beguile you of your reward.” So the idea is not
“Do not let them rob you of your prize or reward,” but “Do not let anyone tell you that
you are disqualified from obtaining the prize of spirituality because you haven’t reached
the level of self-humility, or understood the worship of angels, or haven’t had the right
visions.” The words, “Let no man” means: “not even one (man, woman or anything.)

We are not to allow even one person to sit as an umpire in our life telling us that we are
disqualified of spirituality, because we do not live up to their standard. How do we keep people from acting as an umpire in our lives? The same way we keep them from acting
as a judge. We know the truth, and we ignore their false judgement.
Paul now gives us several traits of these false teachers. He says they are,
“Voluntary humility”

We could render this “delighting in humility.” There is nothing in the word “humility” to
indicate that it is false. The context indicates that it is a false humility.

True humility is dependence upon God. Man lives in dependence upon God, and
understanding this is humility. Pride is self-sufficient. True humility focuses upon God
and his grace (provisions) to us. False humility draws attention to self. By the context
we see that the Paul was describing those that were not humble. They were not
dependent upon God but were quite proud.

This false humility was manifest in “and worship of the angels.” They viewed the worship of angels as a display of modesty or humility. It was a humility of their own making, not a humility commanded from God. These notions were purely the inventions of men and not from the Bible. Therefore, this whole thing was phony.

Religious pride makes man presume (suppose that something is the case on the basis
of probability) upon the Word of God. Their worship of the angels denied the truth that there is “…one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus:” 1 Timothy 2:5. When John tried to worship an angel, he was rebuked for doing so:

Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou
do it not: I am they fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus:
worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Angels are created beings:

Psalms 148:5 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were
created.

This means no one should worship them. We do not worship created things; we only
worship the Creator Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in
earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or
powers: all things were created by him, and for him.

The next thing Paul says about these false-teachers is that they are: “Intruding into those things which he hath not seen” The words “intruding” means primarily: “to step in, or on”. This is the only occurrence in the New Testament. It means: “to frequent, dwell in”. This word could mean: “to invade, to enter on.”

Like many heretics and cultists down through the ages, they claimed support for their
aberrant (departing from an accepted standard) teachings in visions they had
supposedly seen. Today this brand of mysticism is often seen in the charismatic
movement, where Scripture is a distant second in importance to visions and revelations.
There is no need for extrabiblical revelation through visions.

2 Peter 1:18-21 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with
him in the holy mount. (19) We have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do
well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn,
and the day star arise in your hearts: (20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the
scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by
the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Believers, we don’t need visions – we have the Word of God. When someone comes along with a notion, however spiritual it may sound; a vision, however authentic it may seem, if it contradicts the plain teaching of the word of God, mark it down, they are incorrect. You have to always judge the experience by the word of God.

Paul says the false teacher is: “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” “puffed up” has the
idea of “a pair of bellows”. We see this same word used in: 1 Corinthians 8:1

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have
knowledge. Knowledge puffed up, but charity edifieth.

“By his fleshly mind” literally, by the mind of his flesh. They were the intellectuals, the
teachers that boasted they were guided by the higher reason. Paul describes their
higher reason as carnal.

Colossians 2:19 And not holding the Head, rom which all the body by joints and bands
having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

“And not holding the Head, this is the heart of the error! The headship of Christ is the
keynote of this Epistle to the Colossians and the heart of Paul’s Christology. Speaking
of Jesus Christ, he said:

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the
firstborn from the dead: that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Our relationship to Christ is a living union, He is the Head, we are members of the body.
A body functions through nourishment. Who can say to his stomach, “Start digesting!
Stop hurting!” That’s foolish! Yet people think the Christian life personally, and the
church collectively, can be made spiritual by fleshly regulations and disciplines.
Spirituality does not come through the law of man but by the law of God.

Spiritual growth comes from union with Christ. All errors of believers relate to this as
well. If the believer does not have a healthy relationship to the head, the life that flows
from the head will be sickly. Fruit depends upon a healthy fellowship with the head:

John 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it
abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (5) I am the vine, ye are the
branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for
without me ye can do nothing.

We, like the Colossians, must not be intimidated by those who would make something
other than knowing Christ through His Word a requirement for spiritual maturity.
“From which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit
together.” “knit” means: “to cause to join or knit together, to bring together, to unite, to
combine”. It means to bring a number of ideas together to come to a conclusion.
“Increase of God” means: “to supply fully, abundantly, to provide something besides
what already exists to make available whatever is necessary to help or supply the
needs of someone.

God is the benefactor here. He provides everything we need to live the Christian life. He defrays any expenses we may face to live before him: If you have been born again, you have all that you need. The reason why so many Believers are not living in victory is because they do not know what they have in Christ.

They do not step out by faith on their spiritual account because they really believe that
there is nothing there. They do not realize that God has made the deposit already, and
we’re overflowing with riches. You just need to learn to step out and walk in what you
have.

Now in verses 20-23 he deals with asceticism. An ascetic is one who lives a life of
rigorous self-denial. In addition to practicing legalism and mysticism, some of the
Colossians were attempting to gain righteousness through self-denial:

Colossians 2:20-21 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the
world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (21) Touch not:
taste not; handle not:

Asceticism is the twisting of a good principle. Asceticism focuses on self-denial. When
this self-denial is then elevated into a Christian virtue that becomes mandatory, this is
where you begin to have problems.

The good principle is that as Believers, we should be disciplined. If we are going to be
disciples, we need to be disciplined. And that’s the good principle. A disciple is a
disciplined follower of Christ. We need to focus on the basics, and there are a lot of
Believers who are not disciples, because they refuse to be disciplined. They refuse to
focus on the basics. They refuse to set up devotional time with God where they read
and study the Scriptures and pray. They refuse to minister. They refuse to order their
lives in a disciplined fashion to follow Christ.

But when you take it to the extreme and then put that extreme on everyone as the only
true path to holiness, you’re walking down a path that becomes oppressive. That’s what
Paul is saying here. You can force people to walk like you believe is correct.

After all we are all walking in lock-step showing unity. But if it does not deal with our heart, you can discipline yourself, you can fast. But if your heart can remain unchanged that does not make you a more-holy believer.

In fact, it can generate a sinful pride in you because of how disciplined you are. Discipline is good if it focuses on Christ and enables you to follow Christ. But taking it to the extreme doesn’t make you a more holy person, because it doesn’t deal with your heart. Only God can deal with your heart. We have been set free from all of these laws not so we can come back under them when we become Christians, but so we can pursue a living relationship with Christ.

“If ye be dead with Christ.” All the sins were poured out upon Christ. At the moment we believe, God finally and forever forgives our sins by Christ’s death, our position before God is perfect forever. The death Christ died he died to sin, Romans 6:10; you died with Christ; therefore, you died to sin as well. Sin has no more power over you than it has over Christ!!

Why on earth would you need the old regulations, especially the ones made up by men?When we look at the cross, we see Christ dying there. When God looks at the cross, He
sees both Christ and the believer dying there. God sees every person who would ever
believe dying there with Christ.

Colossians 2:21 “Touch not; taste not; handle not;” These “regulations” which Paul rejects, “touch not; taste not, handle not,” are often exactly what modern Christians think about when we think about the Christian life. We think that Christians are people who don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t watch “R” rated movies, don’t gamble, don’t swear, etc. Now I’m not advocating that you all get up and go do all these things, but Paul is saying, “That is not the point!”

Those things are external. You can avoid every single one of them, and still be a pagan
Paul tells us that we do not belong to the world anymore. We don’t get to heaven by
following a list of do’s and don’ts. And, we don’t live the Christian life that way either. We
cannot earn God’s favor. All we can do is receive it. Charles Spurgeon puts it this way:
“I have found, in my own spiritual life, that the more rules I lay down for myself, the more
sins I commit.”

Colossians 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and
doctrines of men?

“Which all are to perish with the using,” literally, are for corruption; destined for
corruption, in the physical sense of decomposition.

Colossians 2:23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and
humility, and neglecting of the body; not in honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

“Shew of wisdom in will worship,” is simply a mode of worship which a man chooses for
himself, independently of the revelation which God has given. It is arbitrarily invented
worship, devised by man’s own will, not God’s. So jealous is God of self-made religion,
that He struck Nadab and Abihu dead for burning strange incense Leviticus 10:1-3.
Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for usurping the office of priest 2 Chronicles 26:16-21.
Compare the self-made worship of Saul 1 Samuel 13:8-14 for which he was doomed to
lose his throne.

Asceticism might make a person appear spiritual, because of its emphasis on humility
and poverty, but it serves only to gratify the flesh. It is a vain attempt to appear more
holy than others. Jesus warned His disciples against it:

Matthew 6:16-18 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad
countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto me to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (17) But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine
head, and wash thy face; (18) That thou appear not unto me to fast, but unto thy Father
which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

When we strive for “spiritual perfection” or “spiritual fullness” by means of formulas,
disciplines, or rituals, we go backward instead of forward. We must also beware of
“deeper life” teachers who offer a system for victory and fullness that bypasses devotion
to Jesus Christ. In all things, He must have the preeminence!

We need to come to understand, to believe, and to live by the principle that God loves
us perfectly. Nothing more is required on your part. Often, we think that we have to do
something so we can deserve this grace.

That is the point of grace. You will never deserve grace. There’s not a certain thing good enough for you to do. You can do it a thousand times and it’s still not good enough. You do not deserve grace. But God gives the grace anyway. There’s nothing you need to add. God cannot love you anymore than He already loves you.

Whenever that gets hold of you, it will change your whole perspective. Now you can relax. We live for Christ, not out of obligation, but because we delight in serving Jesus. When you operate out of a sense of obligation, it becomes a chore. When you operate out of a sense of delight in serving God, it becomes an offering of worship. And that is what your life is to be. That’s the good news.

So, believer, guard your freedom, don’t let anyone acts as your judge or an umpire on
your life. We are complete in Christ and we don’t need legalism, mysticism or asceticism
to make us more spiritual. We are already as righteous as Christ, because we share His
righteousness.

Pastor Don Thomason


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