Paul addresses the deity of Christ in order to help the Old Testament Jews understand that the traditional rituals are no longer necessary. True belief in who Jesus Christ is and what the Cross symbolizes is enough for atonement of sins. In today’s world, we still see religions following traditions in order to be closer to God. Some religions have “rules” that must be followed or works that must be done in order to achieve atonement. Jesus is all we need.
Paul warns the people to avoid false teachers who would like to persuade you to worship angels or other paths to salvation besides faith in Jesus. Also, he warned them about getting caught up in Old Testament traditions and laws for holidays and feasts. I see this in Christianity today as there are many people in the world who have tried to find salvation in other places. The way to solve this is to diligently read the Bible and pray for God’s direction in our lives.
The heresy that was being spread in the Colossians church was that Christ was boy both fully human and divine which leads to an incomplete possibility of salvation. It also then promoted adding to the incomplete work of the cross by requiring us to add our own works to complete our salvation.
Without a total understanding of the completed work of Christ, many churches today have great do and don’t lists of things we need to achieve in order to complete our salvation. They are teaching the same heresy cloaked in “righteous living”. To combat this teaching, we need to study the Scriptures fully and understand that Jesus was 100% both God and man at the same time and therefore our reconciliation to God is complete through faith not works “lest any man should boast”.
As a raised Catholic I see a lot of the similitudes in the practices of the Catholic church to the practices of the the converted Jews of that time. Dietary laws, the exercise of “holy” days, the practice of asceticism to make you holier and be in the grace of God. Many Catholics do not understand that it is by grace only that we have been saved.
As a Christian, I see these practices on the legalistic culture of many groups, I see women or men so involved in their local church that they are always busy.
God is not a God of busyness. God is a God of work and rest. Everything has a time and I am a firm believer that acts are important as long as they are done through Christ Jesus. It is abiding on the vine that is our Lord Jesus that through His Spirit works can be done. Not through our own strength but through the strength of the One who lives in us. It is an overflowing of His presence in us. Part of the sanctification of our flesh/soul, which again it is not done by personal strength but the guidance and instruction of the Spirit.
Paul confronted two distorted views of Christianity. On the one hand, there were the Judaizers who claimed that it was not possible to be a true Christian without satisfying the demands of the OT law requiring people to observe Holy Days and other rituals. On the other hand were the Greek Gnostics who claimed to possess certain knowledge and who practiced their own aesthetics that they insisted were the marks of a true Christian.
Judaized Christianity is still alive within the Body of Christ, ranging from Sabbatarians to True Name of God people. I belonged to a group that taught not only that the seventh-day Sabbath was required of Christians but also all of the other days described in Leviticus 23 and the dietary laws. When the God in His grace and mercy began truly convicting the hearts of leaders and lay members to trust in the completeness of Christ’s sacrifice, it was amazing to see the resistance to any discussions about grace, or about Jesus Himself! Just as Paul kept turning the spiritual hearts and minds of the Colossians back to the sufficiency of Christ, so must the Christian church today make every effort to fix believers’ eyes on Jesus. In my situation, one of the first series of sermons the minister gave was on the book of Hebrews, where the Holy Spirit inspired its writer to compose perhaps the ultimate response to those tempted to go back under the OT law by emphasizing, from the first chapter to the last, the surpassing, superlative superiority of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
The Colossian heresy that Paul addressed in his letter to the Colossians included: First there was too much emphasis on the observance of sacred days and seasons and religious rituals. Second the people of God were believing that they had to deny themselves certain food and drink to secure a higher spiritual state. Third they were hung up on mysticism or spiritism (Col. 2:18) being taught that there are other ways to salvation than through faith in Jesus.
One parallel to this heresy that I see in the body of Christ today as it relates to sacred days we sometime put too much emphases on the holidays of Christmas and Easter rather than the sacredness of the day that the Christ is born and the bases of our salvation that Christ was crucified and He rose on the third day according to scripture.
We solve heresy by the example we have in the Bible. Paul in Colossians taught the truth. Sometimes the best way to combat error is to emphasize the truth.
I appreciate your succinct response to the questions. Regarding parallels to the heresies present in today’s church, there is an increasing tendency to accept the “all roads lead to heaven” theology that probably derives from Christians dabbling in other religions. Perhaps the real tragedy is that, in a since, all roads do leave to Heaven–after all, the Judgment Seat of God is in Heaven (Matthew 25:31-46); however, it is what happens after judgment that determines who remains in Heaven with Jesus, and who is sent away into eternal punishment.
Paul confronts the false teachings of Colossians that have elements of Judaism concerning ceremonial laws and other aspects as in food and drink restrictions. He expounded on Christs’ preeminence and how human philosophies and traditions may well confuse the human response wo what God has done through Christ. I see many churches that insist on designing their own religious ceremonies that use idols and other trappings that show their importance in the eyes of man. Simplicity may be the key to keeping the praise of Jesus in the forefront. Working for and in the Church and other places is fine if it is done naturally through faith and not to show off a person’s religious offerings as works are only good if they come by faith.
People are often judging others based on their “works” as Christians. I believe people want to find a way to measure themselves to see if they are “on the right path”. God only asks us to submit to Him. Through that submission, we find freedom. We can’t work our way to salvation. He has paid the ultimate price to free us from death.
You’re right. Moreover, the age-old battle between faith and works continues to be fought within the Body of Christ. Striking the balance between legalism and antinomianism is often behind the church’s battles over which orthodoxy should prevail, and we can expect the battle to continue until Jesus comes again. I believe it was G.K. Chesterton who referred to the struggle as orthodoxy’s “wild ride.” So hang on!