Sermon – November 13, 2016
Paul has written to the Colossians with one goal in mind, that the Colossians might growing in faith and godliness. He has stated this in several ways: that they walk in a manner suitable to Christ Jesus (1:10), that they be presented mature (1:28), that they might be rooted and built up in Christ (2:6-7). So far in chapter 2, Paul has mentioned several things that the Colossians can avoid. Now, however, Paul warns the Colossians about things that might disqualify them from being reconciled to Christ and part of his new creation (1:23).
A disqualified person:
l. Inflates experiences
In verse 18, Paul hints not at worship directed to angels, but the longing for a spiritual worship that the angels perform, gained through ecstatic religious experiences and the denial of bodily needs. It is not that experience isn’t important (Psalm 34:8, Galatians 3:1-5, 1 Corinthians 2). But experience can be overvalued and inflated, leading to disastrous consequences, as in the golden calf incident of Exodus 32. Such a desire for experience can become our primary motivator, and instead of seeking to worship God, we only seek to gain an experience, thus displacing God from the center of our worship.
2. Ignores Christ
The overvaluing of experience often leads to becoming apathetic to Christ. If all you desire is an experience, even of the Spirit, you begin to displace Christ. Many Christians do this by misguided theology which seeks to glorify the Spirit, but which badly misunderstands the Spirit’s role in the glorification of Christ. Further, the emphasis on experience leads to individuals focusing solely on themselves, and not the fullness of the body.
3. Insists on human tradition
In verse 21 Paul likely references OT laws, and further traditions, about defilement. Jesus handled objections somewhat like this in Matthew 15. While traditions might be good and wise, they are never to be insisted upon. Many things in our worship are done because of tradition, from the way we dress to the time that we meet, even in the songs that we sing. Many of these things are good, but they should never be confused for that which is necessary!
4. Indulges the flesh
All of the physical rules are pointed at a good end: controlling the sinful flesh. The problem, Paul notes, is that such regulations can never accomplish this feat!
As we conclude Colossians 2, Paul’s negative argument comes to an end: you don’t need things extraneous to Christ, rather, all you need is him! Let us then sing praises and give thanks to one who has afforded us “every blessing in the heavenly places!” (Ephesians 1:3).