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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, April 3, 2020

Colossians 2:18-23 (L 16)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                            Published: April 03, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
***********************************************************************************************
Hello and welcome to HBS.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat (food), or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (substance) is of Christ.” (2:16-17).

Said differently, this scripture passage might read, “Let no man judge you re: physical things such as what or what not to eat or drink, or with respect to one day being holier than another, or of the new moon, or the sabbath days for these are mere shadows of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

This particular passage of scripture speaks of one’s liberty in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul’s urging the Colossians not to fall victim to the heretical teachings for He is preeminent and they are complete in Christ (2:10).  Those religious activities found in the Law were “a shadow of things to come” in that they foretold of coming spiritual blessings in Christ.  But the substance of these blessings themselves come, not after the Law, but from God’s grace through Christ’s finished work of the cross.  The Colossians, therefore, should not permit anyone to enslave them to any form of legalism.

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Please open your Bible at Colossians 2:18-23.

“Let no man beguile you (entice; lead astray) 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 shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Remember, in this section of Scripture Paul cited three urgent appeals to the Colossian saints starting at verse 2:8 “Let no man spoil (rob) you;” then in verse 2:16 “Let no man judge you;” and lastly in verse 2:18 “Let no man beguile you.” 

In verses 2:8-10 Paul wrote, “Beware lest any man spoil (rob)you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” 

Our apostle Paul wants these Believers to know they have a standing before God.  They have been positioned in the Lord Jesus Christ by grace through faith.  Faith in what?  The answer:  Paul’s gospel.  Paul isn’t egotistical or off his rocker.  He’s referring to the revelation the risen Lord Jesus Christ gave to him to preach to both Jew and Gentile throughout the then known world (Galatians 1:11-24, 2:6, 3:28).  (FYI:  since God’s only building one church, that is, the Body of Christ, you’re not in Christ unless you have believed Paul’s gospel - Romans 1:1, 2:16, 15:15-17, 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 1:17, 2:2, 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:4, 11:4; Colossians 1:23).   

Remember too the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), but here’s the thing, our Savior was not a sinner, therefore, He hath no death to die.  However, in reality, on Calvary’s cross Christ Jesus died not only for us but also as us:

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that,  while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:6-9).

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:” (Romans 6:4-5).

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

When we recognize this truth and respond in faith, we are baptized into the likeness of His death and become one with Him to the extent that now God sees us in Christ.  Paul explained this operation of God in Colossians 2:11-13.  The Believer is accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6), not because we are doing our best to uphold the Law but because the Lord Jesus Christ took our place on the cross and paid our sin debt in full: 

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7).

And:

“(you) are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). 

Redeemed, forgiven, and justified by God’s Grace, what a glorious message and one the Believer ought to cherish and take to heart.  No wonder Paul said don’t let anybody rob you of this great truth.   

Verses 2:18-19.

Let no man beguile you (entice or lead astray – See Genesis 3:1-5) 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.
  
In verses 2:18 we find Paul’s third appeal to the Colossian saints, “Let no man beguile you of your reward…”  In the NASB Bible the word “reward” is translated “defrauding” and other Bible translations use the word “prize.”  Paul means to say “your reward” is all you have and all you are in Christ Jesus.  The blessings realized in Him might be referred to as spiritual treasures, such as, your heavenly position and status in Christ along with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies, and let’s not overlook the favor of God (Psalm 84:11; Ephesians 1:5-6).

I don’t know how familiar you are with the scripture passage found in Ephesians 1:3-14, but that run-on sentence reads as though Paul is taking the Believer for a walk through a treasure chamber such as newly discovered Egyptian tomb.  In doing so, he describes what he sees along the way.  He begins with the most immediate and evident fact and tells us what that is; then he sees something else and adds that in.  This continues until every one of these indescribable riches are identified.  But here’s the thing, these are much more than mere words on paper.  They are biblical facts, foundational truths, which support us in our daily walk with the Lord and unless you understand them you can’t make use of them. 

The next thing I want to mention from verses 2:18-19 is Paul’s dealing with the heretical teaching known as mysticism.  Now you won’t find that term in this passage and you won’t find it anywhere in the Bible, nevertheless, there are descriptions that sound mystical such as the Gnostic’s unorthodox doctrines that were based on supposed revelations and visions they claimed to have had.  Paul’s not talking about crystal balls, Ouija boards, reading palms, tea leaves and Tarot Cards, per say, however, these are certainly prevalent mystical examples found in our society today.  Seeking wisdom and guidance from the position of the sun, moon, and other celestial bodies is another form of mysticism.  I happen to know some people who fall into this category.  They wouldn’t think of beginning their day without reading their horoscope.  In fact, some people go so far as to plan their day, even their life, around these readings and swear by its accuracy and power.   

Here Paul specifically mentioned a form of mysticism called “voluntary humility.”  Please know this isn’t something God has asked for, and it certainly wasn’t commanded by Him, so it is not true humility.  The best biblical example of this is found in the Galatian church.  The fickle Galatians practiced voluntary humility.  When Paul rebuked this assembly for turning away from his gospel they couldn’t understand why because they were doing more than what God had asked of them.  They basically said, “Look, all we want to do is put ourselves back under the Mosaic Law and keep it.  What’s wrong with that?”  Paul’s response to their disobedience is found in 3:1: 

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

And:

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Galatians 5:7)

Do you see what’s going on here?  Paul clearly taught “the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested.  But the Galatians were trying to obey the religious ceremonies and rites found in the Law and disobeyed the truth of God’s Word in doing so: 

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested (exhibited), being witnessed by the law and the prophets;” (Romans 3:21).

And:

For what saith the scripture?  Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:3-5).

The phrase, “But now” in Romans 3:21 is meant to inform the student of God’s Word that something entirely different than before is about to be referenced.  The next phrase tells you what that is, “the righteousness of God without the law is manifested…  In this revelation re: God’s divine righteousness the Law was left out.  In this dispensation righteousness is based on another principle other than mankind’s vain attempt  to keep the entire Law perfectly.  The righteousness of God is diametrically opposite to man’s law-obedience of any sort because even on our best day, we are unable to keep the whole Law, which is why God sent forth His Son to perform all its requirement for us:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17). 

So, first, we see Jesus did not come to get rid the Law or to annul it.  Instead, He came to fulfill the true meaning and purpose of what the Law was about.  Where the Law said do not lie, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not covet, etc. (Exodus 20:1-17), Jesus obeyed the moral law perfectly.  He lived a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22).  Where the Law talked about sacrifices and the requirement of shedding of blood for forgiveness of sins, Jesus shed His divine blood for the forgiveness of all our sins past, present, and future (Colossians 2:11-14; Hebrews 9:11-14, 22).  Where the Law talked about the coming Messiah, Jesus is the Promised One, the One born of the virgin Mary (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18, 25), who is the Seed of Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Matthew 1:1), who was crucified (Psalm 2:1-3, 22:1, 11-18, Luke 23:33; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 2:20), and rose from the dead on the third day according to the scriptures (Psalm 16:10; Matthew 28:6-7; John 2:19-31; Luke 24:6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).  The implication is, “If you desire eternal life, look to Me.”  The O.T. Scriptures pointed to Christ Jesus who came to fulfill all the prophecies and the requirements that the Law specified.  As Israel’s Messiah, He lived the perfect life which only He could do because He is God in the flesh, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 2:9).

Returning to verse 2:18, I think it’s interesting that in verse 2:8 we find the words don’t let anyone rob you by “philosophy and vain deceit.”  Then in 2:18 we have the parallel statement, “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.”  Do you see the connection?  It’s philosophy and vain deceit.  These false teachers not only disobeyed the truth they walked it underfoot.  Paul’s not talking about legalism in this particular case, but the Gnostic's thought they were more devout.  How's that?  They professed having knowledge of angels and were teaching things on the subject that the scriptures never mentioned things God had not revealed.  Paul said, “they began intruding into those things which they had not seen, vainly puffed up by their fleshly minds.”  Consequently they began to advocate the worshiping of angels and denied the sufficiency of Christ.      

If you’re thinking that comes across a being somewhat off-the-wall, please consider the fact that you’ll find people venerating angels and saints today.  There’s not one verse in the Bible that says we are to worship angels and saints, but the Scriptures are on record stating we are to worship the Godhead, i.e., God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, we are not to bow down to saints and angels; we’re not to praise them and we’re not to pray to them, whether they be mere men identified as saints by the Vatican or the created beings known as the angels of heaven.  We are instructed to worship God alone.  Before Jesus Christ began His earthly ministry to the nation of Israel, He went off to be alone in the desert for a period of forty days (Matthew 4).  While there the devil tempted him thrice.  Remember, Satan (Lucifer) was the highest ranking archangel in heaven; he still is; Paul identified him as “the prince the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).  The devil’s third temptation involved asking Jesus Christ to bow down and worship him in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world.  Jesus met that challenge as He did the others by quoting Scripture, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve  (Luke 4:8).

Meanwhile, back in Colosse, Paul wrote, “And not holding the Head, from which all the body joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (2:19).  

The first thing the student of God’s Word ought to realize is the term “Head” is capitalized so Paul’s referring to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Head of the body and the Church God’s currently building.   Next, you should understand the term “holding” means: to hold fast to someone so as to remain united with him.  Thus, “not holding the Head” is telling us the local heretics possessed no relationship with Christ; they were not true Believers.  They claimed to be members of the body, but they wanted to be the head.  They wanted to search out these mystical things for themselves.  They wanted to rely on what they thought instead of what God has said re: human wisdom (philosophy). 

The true Believer in Christ ought to know he or she is a member of the Body of Christ, and that Christ Jesus is the Head of the body, not our king, but the Head of the Church which is His body.  If y’all remember the teachings of Biology 101 you know the head is the body’s command center and our bodies naturally and normally obey all commands originating from the head.  In like fashion the Believer should naturally obey the Lord Jesus Christ, and they will if they’re truly in Christ; led by Him and God the Spirit (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 3:17). 

Verse 2:20.

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…”

I read that Bible verse a few times and came away thinking the same thing.  All the so-called Christian churches I had partnered in the past placed much emphasis on ordinances.  I find that to be strange because God, through our apostle Paul, said again and again ordinances have not only been done away with Believers are not to subject themselves to them.  They have been freed from “the rudiments of the world” or those elementary religious teachings advocating salvation by human merit and good works.  If you’re truly in Christ Jesus, if you have died with Him from these physical, earthly things, God sees you in Christ, and you are complete in him.  Since you are considered dead (free) from these things, and religious sacrifices aren’t being offered any longer, why do you behave as though you belong to this world-system and subject yourselves to all these “ordinances?” 

Just as the grace church at Galatia wanted to go back under the Mosaic Law, and eventually did (2 Timothy 2:15), many Christians today desire to live under the Law.  You can tell them they are no longer under law they are under grace and they look at you as though you were a heretic attempting to undermine their faith.  You can direct their attention to the writings of Paul regarding what God has to say on the subject, but they still prefer to go their own way.  Other churches will agree they are no longer under the Law but these same churches make rules of their very own.  They have certain rites and rituals, which they make necessary for one’s acceptance with God.  To this they add don’t to this and don’t do that which brings us around full circle to Paul’s declaration, “…why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,“ and takes us to verses 2:21-22.

(Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Paul asked why the Colossians subject themselves to these outwardly physical things when they know full well they can’t do anything good for them.  Once again, this is similar to the situation in Galatia where Paul had to say, “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.  I’m afraid of you, lest I have bestowed on you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:10-11).  The Galatians were beginning to observe certain calendar days, that is, the sabbath, days of fast, and feast days, months, new moons, or feast days beginning with each month; times, such as, Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles; and years, that is, sabbatical years including the year of Jubilee.  The phrase, “in vain,” means without saving result.  Should the Galatians fully embrace the Mosaic Law and the Judaizers’ message of salvation by works, it would show their profession of faith in Paul’s gospel was superficial, i.e., lacking the necessity of faith in what God has clearly said.     

In much the same way people today choose to put themselves under laws of their own making because they seem to think it will do them some good.  But it doesn’t.  This “Touch not; taste not; handle not” on certain calendar days means you can’t eat certain things, and on specific days you have to eat certain things, and there are specific seasons of the year when you must abstain from the things that you delight in the most.  So, permit me to ask, “If I occasionally enjoy eating a Snickers candy bar, what difference does it make whether or not I eat it on a certain calendar day or during a particular season of the year?  In the dispensation of God’s Grace, what makes people think God will be displeased with me if I eat my Snickers whenever I choose?  Why must I deprive myself of certain things just because it happens to be a certain day of the week or a particular season of the year?  Paul’s asking the same questions, minus the Snickers Bar of course, for every Believer has been delivered (freed) from the law:

For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.  But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:5-6).

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
   
Verse 2:23.

Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship (that is, voluntary worship or what God truly requires of us), and humility (see Colossians 2:18), and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

If you found this verse difficult to understand, please know you’re not alone.  An individual in my class once asked me “Did people really talk like this?”  I said, “Yes, they did.”  He then asked, “Did people understand what they were saying because this verse isn’t expressing itself very well.”  I couldn’t disagree with him, so I offered to rephrase the verse and it went something like this, “Observance of these religious rites and ceremonies, the observance of certain days, months, and years, along with the distinctions between meats and drinks have an appearance of wisdom, but they fall short in overcoming our sinful flesh.”  To which I added, “People think they will do better by putting themselves under the Law, if you legislate yourself a bit, than if you do not.

This is a clear example of human wisdom vs the revelation of God.  Here Paul speaks of self-made religion or a mode of worship which man chooses for himself, independently of the revelation which God has given us.  So, you have on one hand those truths God has revealed to man and on the other hand you have what man thinks to be true.  This is voluntary worship; it’s devised by man’s own will, not God’s.  This activity is known as asceticism (severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgences for religious reasons).  Doing any or all of these things might make a person appear to be spiritual because of its emphasis on humility, but it serves only to gratify the flesh.  It is a vain attempt to appear more religious than others, thus, it is voluntary humility.

When Christians strive for spiritual perfection by means of formulas, disciplines, and rituals, they actually are going backward instead of forward in the faith.  Therefore, anyone who is in Christ must not be led astray from the truth by mixing things such as yoga, transcendental meditation, Oriental mysticism, and the like with the revelation of God.  Remember, all is Christ He alone must have preeminence.  We need to understand, believe, and live by the principle that God loves us perfectly.  Nothing more is required on our part.  Too often people think something more needs to be done to deserve God’s grace or to retain it.  These folks don’t understand the biblical meaning of grace.  No one deserves grace.  No matter what you think you need to do nothing will be good enough even though you repeated it a thousand time; it’s still not good enough.  No one deserves grace, and no one can earn it, however, God gives grace freely to those that believe Paul’s gospel of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).      

Steven Curtis Chapman once said, “In the gospel, we discover we are far worse off than we thought, and far more loved than we ever dreamed.”  Please understand God cannot love you anymore than He already loves you.  Whenever that truth gets hold of you, it will change your entire perspective on life.  We live for Christ, not out of some feeling of obligation, but because we delight in serving Him and others (Romans 12:1-2).  When you operate out of a sense of obligation, it becomes a chore.  When you operate out of a sense of serving God and bringing glory and honor to His name, it becomes an offering of worship.  And that's what your life is to be one of worship. 

So then, guard your freedom (liberty), don't let anyone act as your judge on your life. We are complete in Christ and have no need of legalism, mysticism or asceticism to make us more spiritual.  All those who are in Christ Jesus are already as righteous as Him because we share His righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

In Colossians 2:20-23 we have an earnest appeal from Paul to avoid these things, i.e., don’t touch; don’t taste, don’t handle no matter how plausible the pretenses might appear; whatever appearance of wisdom or humility there might be, Paul assures us there is no real honor or true humility in them.  So, even though these rules appear to show human wisdom they are to be avoided because they are merely forms of self-imposed worship, false humility, and “neglecting of the body, that is, all done repeatedly in religious practices day in and day out.  Paul’s saying these rules do have the appearance of wisdom but they are self-imposed forms of worship; none of them assist us in overcoming our fleshly indulgences. 

How do we overcome the flesh?  How do we live our new life victoriously?  In order for the true Believer “to walk worthy” they are to appreciate all that God has done for them and for who they are in Christ.  God has rescued the destitute sinner from the second death and has positioned them eternally in Christ Jesus, declaring they are complete in him; He has bestowed upon each one every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies.  When the Lord  Jesus Christ willingly submitted Himself to Calvary’s Cross, He died not only for us, but as us.  Now God sees us in Christ and says, “You are no longer a child, and I’m not putting you under the Law; you are my full-grown son in Christ:
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:15).

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

God has declared the Believer is His full-grown son (and daughter) with all the rights and privileges of sonship.  God wants us to understand all that this means.  Therefore, don’t let anyone rob you for you are complete in Christ.

Don’t let anyone judge you and tell you what you have to do in order to please God and to serve Him properly.  Our apostle Paul said these physical religious matters re: food and drink, holy days, new moons and sabbath days were mere shadows of something much better to come, and directs our attention to what that is in saying, “but the substance is Christ. 

And don’t let anyone beguile you of these wonderful truths and your position before God the Father in Christ.  Instead, thank God these self-imposed requirements have been blotted out, in fact, Christ nailed them to His cross; and this great message of grace was made known some years later, when God saved the chief (first) of sinners and sent him forth to preach the mystery of God’s grace to all.

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, March 27, 2020

Colossians 2:16-17 (L 15)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                            Published: March 27, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
*********************************************************************************************** 
Hello and welcome to HBS.

Let’s begin with a brief review of last week’s Bible lesson.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

When Paul wrote this letter around 62 A.D. subtle yet dangerous false teachings threatened to undermine the spiritual unity of the Colossian church.  In verse 2:8 Paul said, “Beware” which is both a command and a warning.  He’s strongly urging the Colossians to be ever vigilant because heretics were threatening to draw them away from the truth of the gospel.  But, as I pointed out last week, he didn’t prepare them for the “slippery slope” of heretical teaching by listing them one by one.  He taught them the truth re: Christ’s preeminence in all relationships and who they are in Christ.  Paul also taught them the Lord Jesus Christ is the Standard by which all things will be judged in righteousness.  Therefore, if you have trusted in Him as your Savior (plus nothing else), please know He has nothing against you presently and He will have nothing against you in the future for Christ paid the penalty for all your sins.  Furthermore, we learned Satan is a defeated foe.  When Christ rose triumphantly from the grave He conquered not only the devil but also sin and death “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

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Please open your Bible at Colossians 2:16-17.

The Bible passage we’re about to study speaks of the Believer’s liberty (freedom) in Christ and instructs the Colossians to guard it as you would a valuable treasure.  I can’t speak for y’all but for me freedom is very important.  In fact, when I was told the freedom of others in Indo China was under attack by communist forces, I joined the military to help defend them against that threat.  Back home, I would like to think your view on the freedoms guaranteed to every American citizen by our constitution are worthy to be defended from all enemies foreign or domestic.  If someone were to intrude upon our personal freedom in some way, we ought to let that individual know their intrusion is unwanted and they need to back off.   If they ignore this warning, then perhaps we would seek legal assistance to help them get the message and if the situation warranted we would fight to protect our freedoms and those of our loved ones.  The defense of our home is one example.  Many dedicated service men and women have paid the ultimate price to ensure our freedoms remain intact.  However, many people today are ignorant of these freedoms having chosen not to become familiar with them, which means the very  freedoms men and women have fought and died for are taken for granted and in some cases walked under foot, that is to say, insignificant.      

Just as we ought to value, defend, and guard our personal freedoms, Paul is about to tell the Colossians (and us) we are to treasure our spiritual freedom in Christ and guard it.  The good news of the gospel message is that we have been set free from the Law and the power of sin and death to walk in newness of life by faith through God’s grace. Sadly, many Christians are unaware of the extent of their liberty in Christ.  Because of this they choose to live as though they were operating under the strict commandments and the covenants of God.  However, our apostle Paul addressed the issue saying, and I’m paraphrasing, “Don’t let anyone rob you, i.e., draw you away from the truth of the gospel, and don’t let any one judge you because God has annulled the Law” (2:8, 2:16).

Verses 2:16-17.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat (food), or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (substance) is of Christ.”

Over the years I’ve witnessed and experienced a judgmental spirit within Christianity.  My earliest recollection dates back to when I was a child, but I came across it again and again over the years.  Permit me to explain.  I had the feeling people were looking at me and scrutinizing my behavior, mentally comparing it to some standard that they themselves were striving to live up to.  I’m not talking about how I looked, dressed, and spoke, although these things aren’t off the list.  I grew up in the radical 60’s so that in itself ought to explain much.  I overheard people gossiping in small groups which is a favorite pastime of many.  They were speaking negatively of others, including myself.  They were putting people down for something they supposedly did or didn’t do, and it wasn’t always the same people commanding the conversation.  The majority of the church, at times, acted this way.  There is a term for this it’s called legalism, which is defined as strict adherence to the law. 

Just so you know legalism is the human attempt to gain salvation, favor, or prove our spirituality by outwardly conforming to a list of religious do’s and don’ts.  It’s often disguised in Christian phraseology and behavior.  When Christians or churches become legalistic in their approach, they will become judgmental in their attitude, and it is so easy for people to adopt a legalistic attitude and people can succumb to legalism without trying to do so.  Let's say you discover a discipline that really aids you in your daily walk with Christ.  This activity helps you so much that soon you begin to wonder why others aren’t doing the same thing.  From here you begin to feel self-righteous because in your mind you are doing what everyone else should be doing.  That’s how subtle legalism is?  Discipline in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but if it becomes the standard by which you judge other people’s spirituality then you’re treading on thin ice, scripturally speaking, for we are not under law but grace:

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).  

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6).

But if you obey the Spirit, the Law of Moses has no control over you” (Galatians 5:18).

In this section of Scripture, Paul issued three appeals starting with verse 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil (rob) you;” “Let no man judge you” (2:16); and “Let no man beguile you” (2:18).  We’ll be looking at Paul’s second appeal today in verse 2:16.

If you’ve trusted in the shed blood of Christ for forgiveness of all your sin, then you have a standing before God.  Paul said you are now in Christ and He has pronounced you “complete in him” (2:10).  There is no such thing as being almost saved or almost an adopted child of God.  My friends you are either in Christ or you’re outside of Christ.  If you’re unsaved (outside of Christ), God sees you just as you are and He knows everything there is to know about you.  That’s not my opinion or church-speak it’s taken right from Scripture:  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Once again, you might choose not to know God, but God knows everything about you. You’ll have to stand before Him one day future in judgment to answer for your unbelief, unless you choose to be saved by faith (alone) in Christ’s finished work of the cross.  He died a horrible death to pay the penalty for all your sins and put them away, to such a degree that they’ll never be used against you again.  If you trust in Him as your Savior, God said you are accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6), and God sees you in Christ; you have a standing before God in Christ, therefore you are “complete in him.”  That’s why Paul said, “Beware lest any man rob you” or carry you away from the truth of the gospel by false teaching.    

Paul expounds on this instruction in verses 2:11-13 to show the Colossians they were crucified with Christ and were buried with Him in baptism, and raised with Him unto newness of life (Romans 6; Galatians 2:20).  This naturally leads us to verses 14 thru 17:  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.  Let no man therefore judge you in meat (food), or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (substance) is of Christ.”

Paul makes it clear that when Christ died on the cross He abolished for us all the demands of the Law and this includes anything someone might demand of us, that is, certain things we must do to be saved or retain our salvation.  These things contradict what God has clearly said re: your acceptance in the Beloved and your present standing for you are complete in Christ.  Christ has “blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” or those things He said must be done to be accepted by Him.  The first example of this teaching is found in Cain and Abel’s sacrifices.  The LORD God had told Cain and Abel to bring a blood sacrifice before Him.  We read the LORD accepted Abel’s sacrifice and him because he did as he was instructed.  His brother Cain’s response to this command was to devise a plan all his own.  He offered the LORD fruit, the work of his own hands, as a sacrifice which demonstrated he was destitute of faith in what the LORD clearly said, so both he and his sacrifice were deemed unacceptable (Genesis 4:1-7).

I mention Cain’s lack of faith because throughout the scriptures you’ll find it was the obedience of faith in what God had said that determined whether or not a person was considered righteous (See Genesis 15:6; Psalm 106:31; Romans 4:2-4; Galatians 3:6).  But then came our apostle Paul saying I have the greatest message of all, that is, the preaching of the cross; that Christ died to pay the penalty for all our sin that we might be saved by grace through faith and not of works of any kind (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

In Romans 4:3-5 Paul said, “For what saith the scripture?  Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith (his believing) is counted for righteousness.”
That’s why Paul said in Colossians 2:14 the Lord Jesus Christ “blotted out the handwriting of ordinances which was against us…  All these laws and commands could only condemn us.  Even if we could do them we would never be sure we had done enough and there’s the question of whether or not we performed them in the right spirit, that is, the right frame of mind.  In short, the Law revealed our sin:  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:19-20).    

So, Paul said that list of things to do and not to do known as the Law or those things “that were against us” Christ “took out of our way, nailing it to His cross.”  But here’s the thing, when was this truth revealed?  You don’t find the message of Christ’s all sufficient work of the cross in the O.T., the four gospels, or in Acts chapters 1-8.  It wasn’t until Saul/Paul “the chief (first) of sinners was saved by God’s grace alone (Acts 9).  It wasn’t known until Paul proclaimed the message of the mystery to both Jew and Gentile:  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:21-22).

It is not known until Paul said, “sin shall not have dominion over you for you’re not under law but under grace.  So, the Law of sin and death was done away with by the cross of Christ, but this message wasn’t revealed immediately thereafter.  The message of salvation by God’s grace through faith was not made known until the risen and glorified Lord raised up Saul of Tarsus as the apostle to the gentile nations (Acts 9).  In Ephesians 3:1-6, according to Paul, the revelation of this present dispensation, or program, was something God first made known and committed unto him:

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:” (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

This present dispensation is something which was a “mystery” before Paul.  God kept it secret unto Himself in ages and generations past.  It wasn’t known about before or even anticipated until God raised up the apostle Paul and revealed to him the mystery of  God’s grace through the Christ’s finished work of the cross.  Therefore, the dispensation of God’s amazing grace began with a revelation the Lord made known to our apostle Paul:  Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:” (Romans 16-25-26; Acts 20:24).

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;  of whom I am chief (first).  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

Verses 2:16-17.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat (food), or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (substance) is of Christ.

If someone says you have to do this or that to please God, remember who you are in Christ (2:10).  Whomsoever the Son sets free he or she is free indeed.  In the Grace Age we are to live for Him out of sheer gratitude for all the things He has done for us (Romans 12:1-2).  Therefore, don’t let anyone rob you; don’t let anyone judge you.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to be water baptized, you must attend church on certain calendar days, or perform some sort of self-sacrifice such as those that are done during the Lenten period; all these things are shadows of things to come (2:17).  Paul said, “but the body (substance) is of Christ.”  All the do’s and don’ts contained within the Mosaic Law were a shadow of things to come in that they foreshadowed or foretold of coming spiritual blessings in Christ.  But the substance of these blessings or divine benefits themselves come, not after the Law, but from Christ.  The Colossians, therefore, should not permit anyone to judge them, or enslave them to legalistic regulations and rituals.    

(To be continued)

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Colossians 2:13-15 (L 14)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
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Established November 2008                                            Published: March 20, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
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Welcome to HBS.

Let’s review:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”  (Colossians 2:8-12)

In verse 2:8 Paul presented Christ Jesus, His teachings, His commands and His humanity as The Standard by which all things will be judged in righteousness.  This will take place in the future for the Body of Christ first at the Bema Seat Judgment and then the ungodly at the Great White Thone Judgment:

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:16).

For we (true Believers) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;” (2 Timothy 4:1).

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them (unbelievers).  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened,  which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books,  according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

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Please open your Bible at Colossians 2:13-15.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” 

When Paul wrote this letter there were subtle yet dangerous false teachings threatening to subvert the spiritual unity of the Colossian church, i.e., drawing some of them away from the doctrines they had been taught.  In certain circles it’s known as “the Colossian heresy."  In verse 2:8 Paul said, “Beware” which is both a command and a warning.  He’s urging the Colossians to be ever vigilant because the heretical teachings were threatening to take root.  But here’s the notable thing, he didn’t prepare them for the “slippery slope” (dangers) that lie ahead by listing the false teachings.  Instead, he taught them who Christ Jesus is and who they are in relation to Him:

For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without (human) hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:” (2:9-10).

You see, they didn’t need to study the counterfeit teachings of these men, they simply needed to understand the truth because when truth is compared with false teaching the counterfeit is easily recognized.  However, many people are either unaware of the truth of God’s Word, dispensationaly speaking, or they choose to circumvent it.  I have a recent example I’ll share concerning the forgiveness of sin.  I received a message last week from a Christian friend saying they pray routinely for God to forgive them.  Please know this person is dutifully obeying the teachings they received from their church; I know because I attended the same church long ago.  In fact, we used to show up weekly, usually on Friday, to confess our sins to the parish priest and receive from him absolution, that is, forgiveness for you non-Catholics.  But is there any truth to this?  Not so much.  According to God’s Word, (in the dispensation of grace) all sin (past, present, and future) has been forgiven.  Let’s review a few Bible passages on the subject:

And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7).

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:" (Colossians 1:12-14).

Forgiveness for all our sin and the world’s for that matter was realized when Christ died on Calvary.  This good news wasn’t proclaimed until much later, but I’m getting ahead of this lesson in saying that.  The Bible clearly says that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).  Now some folks teach blanket salvation for all, which means you’re automatically saved.  There’s no need for you to do anything including altering your current lifestyle.  But that is another example of false teaching in this age.  Salvation is not automatically applied to one’s account.  The world’s sins have been forgiven, that’s true, but to appropriate God’s free gift of grace you must believe new and eternal life comes only by trusting Christ as your Savior, “For without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6): 

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled (past tense) us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of
reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ,  reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Romans 5:8-11). 

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile (to restore harmony and/or peace) all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20).

Thus, my Christian friend doesn’t need to continually ask God for forgiveness and neither do we.  The sins of the world were purged by the shed blood of Christ Jesus.  This doesn’t mean we no longer sin, as some teach, because we most certainly do.  However, it does mean we are no longer enslaved to sin:

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.  What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.  But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:20-23).   
With all that information in mind I believe we’re ready for verse 2:13:

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him (Christ), having forgiven (past-tense) you all trespasses;”

Here we see again the message of forgiveness which our apostle Paul communicated to the Colossians and every “new creature” eternally positioned in Christ Jesus.  All” means all my friends.  There isn’t one sin left uncovered by the shed blood of Christ.  I remind the group verses 2:10-13 speak of the Believer’s present standing before God the Father.  He doesn’t see us as we once were, enemies, destitute of faith, i.e., outside of Christ, and spiritually “dead in our sins…,” He sees us as we now are and that is eternally positioned in Christ Jesus and clothed in His righteousness:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:21-22, 4:11, 5:1-11, 17, 19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9).

Verse 2:14.

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

If something is blocking your path, logic dictates it has to be removed in order for you to proceed.  What was against us?  Paul said it was “the handwriting of ordinances.  Both the Law and sin itself was against us.  The perfect Law of God wasn’t added because it could be kept in its entirety.  Scripture says the Law was added because of mankind’s  transgressions (Galatians 3:19).  The Law revealed God’s righteousness to mankind, and our inability to keep it because sin ruled over us.  So God sent His Son to do what mankind could not.  The Bible says Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to all them that believe (Romans 10:4).

That thought brings me back to my wayward Christian friend.  Over the years I earnestly tried to show them what God has said re: forgiveness, among other things, but they couldn’t or wouldn’t come to terms with it.  They couldn’t shake the notion they had to do something to maintain or retain their salvation.  This is true for many people.  They’ll tell you they believe Christ’s shed blood paid the penalty for their sin, but then say, “Now that I have a clean slate I need to keep it clean.”  Please take note of the usage of the word “I” in that statement; God is not found in it. 

That mindset reminds me of Chapter 11 bankruptcy because it works much the same way.  People experiencing financial hardship can file for bankruptcy which wipes their slate clean and provides them a fresh start or what I call a “do-over.”  In the game of golf I believe the term is a “mulligan.”  Now that they have a clean record, they operate on the notion they have to strive to keep it clean.  Their view on the shed blood of Christ is much the same.  They acknowledge their sins were wiped from their account once they believed on Christ Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, but here’s the thing, now that they have a clean record they feel the need to keep it clean by doing things for God.  So, I asked them at what point do you realize you’ve done enough good on your own to satisfy God.  Where do you find that number?  They didn’t know the answer and nobody does., but they keep on keeping on despite what the Scriptures, rightly divided, clearly say.

Verse 2:15:

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

How were the principalities and powers spoiled?  The answer: by the resurrection of Christ.  Verses 2:12-14 helps us understand the operation of it.  Verse 2:15 clearly says Christ Jesus is the Victor, but when was He proclaimed victorious?  We find the answer in 2 Timothy 2:7-8:

Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.  Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to (what exactly?) my gospel:”

Christ was victorious over sin and death the moment He rose from the dead.  But His victory was not proclaimed until the risen and glorified Christ revealed the mystery to Paul (Ephesians 3:1-9).  He, as the apostle to the gentiles, proclaimed the necessity of the Cross of Christ and that it is wholly sufficient for one’s salvation in the Church Age not one thing needs to be added to it.  I mention this because if you’re denying Pauline doctrine then you’re denying the teachings of Christ Jesus and that’s an affront to God.   

That being said, I continue to encounter this mentality frequently what’s more I lived with it for years in my own home.  My ex-wife who believed more in leaving than cleaving had her mind set no matter what I showed her from God’s Word.  One day she looked at me and stubbornly said, That’s not the Jesus I know (or have been taught by my church), so I don’t want to hear any more and that goes for the phrase “rightly divided!” A few months after our divorce was finalized she told me one of the main reasons she filed for divorce is because I was an ultra-dispensationalist (this is a denominational church label applied to someone who rightly divides the Scriptures – 2 Timothy 2:15).  Said differently, I place too much emphasis on Paul.  I responded by directing her attention to Scripture:

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.  But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:37-38, 1 Corinthians 11:1).

Many religious people (my ex-wife included) take the Lord Jesus Christ as their pattern in life.  He’s their great example.  When difficulties arise, they ask themselves: “What would Jesus do?”  They also seek salvation by “walking in His steps.”  One of the popular verses they lean heavily on is the one that reads, “Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me…” (Matthew 10:38, 16:24; Mark 8:34; and Luke 9:23) among others.  You’ll never hear me say the Lord’s moral and spiritual virtues aren’t worthy of our attention and emulation, but our apostle Paul wants us to know we cannot be saved by following Christ, or striving to live as He did (2 Corinthians 5:16).  His perfect holiness would only highlight our unrighteousness and serve to condemn us.  He came to save us, not by His life, but by His death:  Christ died for (all) our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3), and lost sinners are “reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). 

God has given us a pattern to follow in the Church Age for salvation and how to live a godly life.  Most of you know what I’m about to say before I get the words down on paper.  It is none other than the apostle Paul, “the chief of sinners” saved by God’s grace alone.  He was divinely inspired to write the following truth for our benefit:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (the first)” (1 Timothy 1:15).

In the next verse Paul tells us why God saved him: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting” (verse 16).

Saul/Paul of Tarsus was a religious zealot or traditionalist, but even with all his earthly accomplishments he had nothing to commend himself to God (Philippians 3:3-8).  He dedicated himself to arresting, persecuting, torturing, and killing those Jews who believed Jesus was the promised Messiah.  To him they were akin to a virus that needed to be eradicated.  From a perspective of divine justice, he deserved death.  But God did not take his life; He saved him.  And in saving him God commissioned him to be “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13) to preach the “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:241 Corinthians 15:1-4) in which one is saved by faith alone apart from the Mosaic Law.  In addition to revealing this gospel by faith alone, God revealed several other doctrines to Paul He had kept hidden.  Paul called them secrets

Paul’s salvation and the revelations he received from the risen Lord were what Paul had reference to when he spoke of himself as “first.”  He was the “first of sinners” in the sense that God saved him to inaugurate a whole new program, in which he is the pattern for all them that follow.  As the “first,” Paul was God’s prototype.  To Paul, God revealed the “gospel of the grace of God” in which one is saved by simply believing that Christ died for one’s sins, was buried, and rose from the dead.  This gospel was entirely different from the “gospel of the kingdom” inaugurated by John the Baptist and Jesus (Matthew 3:1-24:179:35).  Consider the following: how was Peter saved?  Was it by believing Christ died for his sins, was buried, and rose from the dead?  Not so much.  Peter was saved by believing Jesus was the promised Messiah (Matthew 16:16-17; Acts 8:26-36).  Peter knew nothing of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Luke 18:31-34John 20:8-9) with respect to its eternal significance.  Martha was saved the same way (John 11:25-27).  

Compare that with how you are saved today?  Is it by believing Jesus is the Messiah the Son of God?  No.  People are saved today by believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 2:16, 16:25-27).  Who better to proclaim the grace of God to the then known world then Paul the one who first received it (Colossians 1:25-29).  Although people might only walk in accordance with the Light they’ve been given, once the Light of the gospel has been revealed to them to continue walking as before is, plainly said, an affront to God and His revealed will. 

Principalities and powers” are two names or titles given to spiritual forces, along with authorities and rulers, depending on how they are used in the context.  Here Paul’s saying Satan and his evil hordes were defeated by the Cross of Christ.  In Genesis 3:15 the LORD God said, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”  In other words, the day is coming, said the LORD to the devil, when you (not just your offspring) will be defeated and removed from the earth.  The offspring of the woman will bruise thy head (this speaks of a mortal wound) – Romans 16:20.  That decisive blow was struck by the Perfect offspring of the woman, Christ Jesus, when he died on the cross and rose again.  This is one of the reasons why God’s Son had to become a man; it was the offspring of the woman who would bring about Satan’s utter defeat.

Colossians 2:14-15 describe what God did for those who trust in His Son’s perfect sacrifice: 

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”  

The resurrection of Christ spoiled principalities and powers what’s more He shamed them openly when He rose victoriously from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures.   At that moment in time Satan was disarmed and defeated.  Disarmed of what?  Satan’s weapon of mass destruction was his accusation before God that mankind is guilty and deserves the death penalty.  When Christ rose victoriously that charge was nullified.  All those who trust in Christ’s shed blood for the forgiveness of sin are positioned eternally in Christ and have eternal life.  And Satan cannot separate them from the love of God, in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37-39).  He’ll try, but he can’t.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,  Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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