Lesson 27: "If Ye Be Dead with Christ. . .Why. . .Are Ye Subject to Ordinances. . .After the Commandments and. . .Doctrines of Men?" (Colossians 2:10-22)
This is lesson #27. We want to begin this lesson by reading Col. 2:18-3:4...ten verses. Are you ready? Please read with me. We begin in 2:18...let's read. "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, 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. 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, (touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."
Alright, in v.18, Paul goes back to his warning we mentioned before. Paul knew some were try¬ing to lure the Colossae Christians away from the things just spoken, very much like it happens in our day. Some poke fun at being baptized for the remission of sins, call it water salvation etc., and then invent to themselves doctrines and commandments of men, follow their traditions, not hold¬ing the Head as Paul says, i.e. not doing it as our King and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ has commanded. However, don't forget, there is a home in heaven waiting for those who believe in Jesus, repent of their sins, confess Jesus as God's Son, and are baptized INTO Christ and live faithfully the rest of their days. We are complete in him (v.10). "Let no man beguile YOU of YOUR reward..." It's your responsibility! Don't depend on your preacher, don't depend on your elders, don't depend on grandpa, don't depend on the tube. You have a personal responsibility to obey scripturally and you have a personal responsibility to stay in-there...keep on keeping on. Now, it's so easy to get infatuated with something like the tele-evangelist in our day that display their wares on the tube and start dabbling in worldly stuff, vainly puffed up in our fleshly mind, Paul said. He mentioned "voluntary humility." What's that? Submitting to optional and arbitrary acts that have nothing to do with Christianity. Have you seen those who miss the Lord's supper 51 times in a year and then make a big fling out of Easter. They disobeyed the command in Heb. 10:25, "forsake not the assembl¬ing of yourselves together" fifty-one times and then they try to make up for it by doing something that's not even mentioned in the Bible. Voluntary humility, do you get it? Today some worship Saint so-and-so, those Saints that begin with a capital letter. They put a lot of emphasis upon keeping Saint so-and-so day; but then, they don't keep the simple, routine, everyday commands that are in the Bible. At Colossae, it was apparently the popular thing (at that time) to worship angels (v.18). Now, notice v.19, "Not holding the Head"...i.e. not holding to Christ and his commandments, you see. Voluntary humility, do you get it? Some Christians were apparently worshipping angels, some man made doctrine that apparently flourished around Colossae and then they were leaving undone the very things the Lord instructed. In v.10 Paul said, "ye are complete in him." What does that mean? To be complete means to be perfect and entire. It's all you need. Don't add to it. Don't try to improve on it. If you do what's required...that's enough. You'll be lucky if you get that done. Substitutions are not acceptable. The church, the church of the Bible, Christ's church will not grow in an atmosphere of substitutions, deletions, superstitions, the doctrines and commandments of men. However, the church will grow any place where every member is in- there, studying (that's the idea in v.19, "having nourishment ministered") and then being "knit together" means: every member doing their part, carrying their load, edifying each other and being real peacemakers (Matt. 5:9), in Christ. Then a congregation will grow, that's what Paul said (end of v.19), it will increase with the increase of God. But, first we must be "dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world" (v.20), i.e. baptized into Christ. Paul used that "rudiments of the world" term once before (back in 2:8). You might want to check that. V.20-21-22 is a question. The question is very simply this: if you are dead with Christ (v.20), buried with him (v.12), "raised with him through the faith of the operation of God" (v.12) [do you get it?], if you are in him and ye are complete in him (v.10), WHY...WHY (it's in the middle of v.20) WHY do you touch, taste and handle, i.e. voluntarily subject yourself to ordinances, commandments and doctrines of men? WHY? Why do that? Oh, some of those things might not give you any great sensual pleasures as such. This voluntarily humility (as he calls it) might even take a little effort on your part. Oh! Look how I'm sacrificing. I had to gave up dill pickles for Lent. It might even be to make you appear intellectually superior in following the crowd and help you to be accepted by their leaders. But, that's all it's worth. It will "perish with the using" (v.21). In Matt. 6:1, Jesus said: do this...do it this way (i.e. Jesus gave a com¬mand) [I'm paraphrasing]; then, after that command of what to do and how to do it, he said: "other¬wise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." In the next verse, Jesus told how the "hypocrits" do it and to this he added, "Verily I say unto you. They have their reward." In other words, the momentary fulfillment they get from exercising their intellectual superiority and the personal esteem they enjoy through others recognizing them as great denominational leaders is all they will get out of it...that's it! No reward in heaven. It passes with the moment. Paul says it perishes with the using. That's "voluntary humility" [do you get it?] Re-read the first few verses in Matt. ch. 6, and try to connect this up. Now, if we are not to participate in "the rudiments of the world" (v.20) and if we are to stay away from voluntary humility, the worshipping of angels (v.18) and the doctrines and commandments of men, will- worship (v.22); then what is it we need to do Paul? O.K. tune in 3:1. "If ye then be risen with Christ..." i.e. if you "are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God..." (v.12), in other words, if you are buried with Christ in baptism (v.12); [then what Paul?] then, "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." In other words, here is our Christian duty (after baptism) spelled out in a nutshell. Now, take just a moment, re-read v.1 again, this is a summary or a commentary, if you will, upon what has been covered back in Col. ch. 2. Then, v.2-3-4 is simply a restatement of v.1. Do you remember Paul's style of writing we talked about before? He states it, he restates it and then sometimes he even explains it some more. Then occasionally, he even goes so far as to illustrate his point. Now here, the apostle doesn't use the illustration technique; instead, he does a commentary or a restatement of these things again in even much broader terms and in a more down-home sort of way, more practical terms in other words which takes us through the end of this chapter. Put your eyes on that second word in v.5, "THEREFORE." If you can get the rest of this chapter (I'm talking about ch.3), if you can get it tuned-in and applied to your community, your environment and your social surroundings; it's as fresh as this morning's news paper. You'll think Paul has been reading your mail. This'11 take a little work on your part; but, don’t slight it.
Bring it down home, so-to-speak! With that much suggestion and admonition; let's read v.5-17. Try to see this as we have indicated. Work on it! Are you ready? Let's read. Beginning in v.5, here we go. Paul said:
"Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked sometime, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore. as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfect-ness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
O.K. if you're ready, we'll analyze a little and then move on. In the 13 verses we just read, there are about four listings (v.5, v.8, v.11 and v.12). So first, try to get the thought by rereading this and skipping over these listings. Then, expand upon each thought by going into the listings. The word "mortify" (v.5) means: to put to death. In other words, Paul is saying you do this...you must eliminate and eradicate these things from your life. In a figure of speech, he is saying: you must kill these things in your life. Now, notice something about this! This is something I must do and you must do. It takes effort on our part. So, it's not just be baptized, have your sins remitted and go back to business as usual. You see, spiritual life begins with baptism. We are born again as Jesus told Nicodemus. We are quickened, i.e. made alive spiritually, "you... hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses." (2:13). I recall back in the community where I grew up in eastern Kentucky, some said they were saved and sanctified and could not sin. Their thinking seemed to be that when they prayed through (as they called it) the Holy Spirit just took over and possessed them to the point they were in effect a puppet. Please notice, this is completely foreign to what Paul says. YOU must remove these things from YOUR life ...the things in these first two lists (v.5-v.8). You see, Christians are volunteers in the Lord's army, we serve at his invitation. You must serve the master by following his rules and because you want to...you are not forced to do this. You can desert, you can go AWOL, or you can resign your commission any day. It's pathetic and so unfortunate; but, many do. Paul is pleading with the Colossian brethren, please don't let this happen to you. Lay hold on eternal life. You see, when we believe in Jesus, repent, confess him and are baptized into him; he forgives us all our past sins. We are made alive in Christ, we are born again, we are mustered in, i.e. enlisted in the Lord's army, so-to- speak. That's just the beginning. Study, learning the Lord's rules, the training, his mission and his work is still before us. We must discipline our selves. To the Romans, in discussing baptism, Paul said: "reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin" (Rom. 6:11). Listen now: RECKON YE...YOURSELVES. Did you get that? WE must do that. The Holy Spirit doesn't take over like a computer operating a printer. We are NOT preprogrammed robots. "Ye have put off the old man with his deeds..." (v.9). YE have done this, you see. The next verse says: ye "have put on the new man." You see, YOU did this! Paul's figure here is like taking off one robe or one set of dress and putting on another uniform or the official dress of the Master in other words. Study v.10! Then in v.11, there is no rank or cast system of distinction between Christians. It's not like all the worldly categories we get pigeonholed into here (Paul's list: illustrating worldly distinctions is in v.11). Now, look at v.12! "Put on therefore..." In other words, where you took off fornication, uncleanness, covetousness and all those things listed up in v.5 and down in v.8, put on these things (v.12) to replace those things. Even beyond that, v.14, put on charity...i.e. agape, or love. Not just love American style. It means to seek the highest interest and the highest welfare of another. We've covered this before. And I trust Paul's famous 13th ch. of I Corinthians pops quickly into your mind (here).
Now, one or two more observations and we're out of time. In v.15, he said: "let the peace of God rule in your hearts." This is what Christians are to do. And there's another good sermon in that. But, going on to the last part of v.15; it says: ye are called in the church of your choice. Is that what it says? Not quite! Ye are called in ONE BODY, i.e. one church. And, there's another good sermon. And, be thankful it's that way. Then (v.16), let the word of Christ collect dust on your coffee table. Did I mis-read that? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you..." How? Richly in all wisdom. That means a lot of it! and that means: use it in a wise way. What for? "Teaching and admonishing." You as a Christian should teach WHO? Teach and admonish one another with the gospel ...telling each other about the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. How does one admonish? Encourage! Admonish means to encourage. Encourage each other. How Paul? "In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." How should we do that Paul? In what? Four ways the apostle mentions here: (#1) in psalms, i.e. by using the O.T. books of wisdom, and similar biblical messages, (#2) in hymns. My dictionary says hymns are "songs in praise or honor of God." (#3) In spiritual songs, i.e. songs about or that teach about spiritual things. (#4) In singing, i.e. acapella or vocal music. Singing how? "With grace in your hearts" (v.16). To who? "To the Lord." How do we do this? "Teaching and admonishing one another." Yes, but, Bro. Horsley it didn't say NOT TO use a piano. Yes, you're right. It didn't say NOT TO dance or smoke pot either. BUT, it told us what to do. Four things! If we are trying to serve the Master, I think we better stick to what we're told, instead of what we're NOT TOLD to do. The next verse (v.17) extends this idea and it also extends the authority idea. "Whatsoever ye do" do it in the name of the Lord Jesus (i.e. by his authority), in other words use as your standard what the Lord said to do, not what he didn't say to do. And give thanks to God by Jesus; i.e. by his authority. And, I have just time enough to say: have a good day!