Col. 2:16-19 - A Mind Freed by Christ PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Tuesday, 17 April 2007 17:22

Colossians 2:16-19
A Mind Freed by Christ”
Sermon Outline
Tim Black

  1. Introduction

    1. A Mind Freed by Christ is a mind...

      1. Freed from error: Jewish Legalism & Pagan Religion vv. 16, 18

      2. Devoted to Christ vv. 17, 19a

      3. Growing in Christ’s wisdom v. 19b

  1. Body: A Mind Freed by Christ...

    1. A Mind Freed by Christ is a mind freed from error 16, 18

      1. These verses evoke the greatest speculation regarding the nature of the Colossian heresy. The false teachings in Colosse appear to have been a combination of Judaism & paganism. That is, a combination of both true and false religion. So they have a ring of truth, but in the end are false. We know what the OT and the Jews taught, but we are less certain what pagan ideas were being taught in Colosse. I think the reason Paul doesn’t clearly define those pagan ideas for us here is that he doesn’t want us to spend our time speculating about what they were. In the end, those ideas themselves were empty speculation, and nothing more, and Paul is clearly warning us here to avoid such speculation. What Paul does want us to do here is to see the difference between true and false religion, and to make sure that in regard to both, we “take every thought captive to obey Christ,” as Paul says in 2 Cor. 10:5.

      2. The errors of Jewish Legalism – OT ceremonies, and them used wrongly 16

        1. Food and Drink

          • 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink,

          • Options

            • Dietary laws in Leviticus – clean & unclean foods

              • But, there were no laws regarding drink, except for priests

            • Meat & drink offerings

              • Ezekiel 45:17 It shall be the prince's duty to furnish the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the new moons, and the Sabbaths, all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel: he shall provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement on behalf of the house of Israel.

          • Either way, the ceremonial law of the OT is in view

        1. Festival, New Moon, Sabbath

          • 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.

          • The same was the case regarding the festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths. They were part of the ceremonial law, especially because they involved sacrifices and offerings.

            • Leviticus 23:37-38 37 These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, 38 besides the LORD's Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD.1

              • Festivals. The feasts are:

                • Passover/unleavened bread (no work)

                • Firstfruits (no grain)

                • Weeks (no work)

                • Trumpets (sabbath, no work)

                • Day of Atonement (sabbath, no work)

                • Tabernacles (sabbath, no work)

              • Sabbaths.

                • Woven throughout these feasts are days on which no work should be done (all but Firstfruits), and those days in the last 3 of these feasts are each called a “sabbath,” in vv. 24, 32, and 39. These sabbaths were “beside”--in addition to--the weekly Sabbath.

                • Every seventh year was also called a “Sabbath” (Lev. 25:1-6)

                • Focus: Ceremonial sabbaths, because in the NT there was no dispute over whether the church should take communion or worship on the first day of the week! The disputes were over the Jewish ceremonies.

              • New moons. In addition to these feast and sabbath days, sacrifices and offerings were given on the first day of every month, called the “New Moon.”

        1. Jewish - OT Ceremonies

          • Paul is saying we need not worry that we are obligated to keep the ceremonies of the Old Covenant. We’re not.

        2. Legalism - Used wrongly

          • Paul is also warning us not to fall into the trap of the wrong use of those ceremonies. It was not the blood of bulls and goats that saved God’s people in the OT, but rather God’s people in the OT were saved through faith in the coming Messiah. Outward ceremonies alone did not save God’s people in the OT, and neither will they save you today.

      1. The errors of Pagan Religion 18

        1. Asceticism and worship of angels

          • Not only are we free from the errors of Jewish Legalism, we are also free from the errors of Pagan Religion.

          • 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels

          • Asceticism

            • Definition: Denying your body what it needs, and denying yourself enjoyment

            • Goal: free your mind to commune with God, discover secret truths hidden from other people

              • Not so different from the goal of mind-altering drugs: free your mind to experience a higher state of consciousness

              • Assumes the body is evil or an obstacle to true knowledge

          • Worship of Angels

            • False teachers appeared to teach that one should worship the angels because they are mediators through whom you can come closer to God.

            • This isn’t so different from what the Catholics teach, that Mary, saints, angels, and the church are mediators, go-betweens, between God and man.

            • But Christ is the only Mediator between God and man!

            • And angels should not be worshiped. They are creatures rather than the Creator.

            • Paul said that

              • Galatians 1:8 even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

          • This religion is clearly beyond Jewish ceremonies used rightly or wrongly. This religion is further from the true OT religion than the errors mentioned in v. 16.

        1. Visions and Pride in Folly

          • The reason it is further from the truth is that it is solidly based on baseless human speculation. It is based on supposedly authoritative visions, and is characterized by pride in what amounts to folly.

          • 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind

          • The charismatics claim to have seen visions, to have personally received special revelations that give promises or laws that are other or more detailed than those God gives us in scripture. Paul warns you here that if they do not speak according to the word of God in scripture, they have not received their word from the Lord, but have come up with it from their own imagination.

          • It’s so easy for us to turn our own imagined speculations into the “gospel truth.” To take what we’ve pulled out of thin air, believe that we’re right, and then tell everyone how smart we are.

      1. We’ve spent about half this sermon now talking about the errors from which Christ frees us. But Paul doesn’t want us to spend all our time on those errors. He wants us to turn from them to Christ.

    1. A Mind Freed by Christ is a mind devoted to Christ

      1. Devoted not to ceremonies & self-righteousness, but to a spiritual relationship with Christ 17

        1. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

        2. Truth: ceremonies taught us about Christ & His work

          • Blood & sacrifice - atonement

          • washing - forgiveness

          • circumcision - putting off of flesh

        3. Error: cling to the sign and not to the thing signified – to Christ!

      2. Devoted not to speculation & lies, but to Christ and His wisdom 19

        1. 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

        2. Who does your thinking for you?

          • You say, “I do my thinking for me!” But not all of it.

          • The people you listen to do much of your thinking for you.

            • Newspaper, radio, talk shows, TV dramas, your favorite music lyrics.

            • You adopt what they say. You take it with a grain of salt, but accept much of what they say as the truth. I do it too.

          • But as you evaluate those talking heads, and follow them, do you hold fast to the Head? To Jesus Christ? How much do you listen to Him?

        3. Let me blow your mind.

          • You probably thought that asceticism in v. 18 was all bad. Nothing good about asceticism, right? Then where does Christian fasting fit into Paul’s picture here? Isn’t fasting all about denying our body of needed and pleasurable food, in order to come closer to God? It is.

          • So pagan asceticism has a Christian counterpart in fasting! And this is the case for each of the errors Paul condemns in these verses. Each error is truly wrong, but has a Christian counterpart which is the right way to live. We need to take every thought captive, whether it is Jewish, Pagan, or seemingly Christian, we need to take every thought captive to obey Jesus Christ. So, for example, when we Christians fast, we are not practicing pagan asceticism, though we achieve the ascetic’s goal even better than he does, because Christ teaches us that:

            • The body is good, and all foods are good

            • Truth is plainly revealed for all in Scripture

            • And fasting is no reason to be proud, or to condemn other people who don’t fast like you do. Listen to what Christ says about fasting.

              • Matthew 6:16-18 16 "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

          • When it comes to evaluating OT or NT ceremonies, or pagan religious ideas, we need to hold fast to our Head, Jesus Christ, and listen to Him. In the most biblical of ways, He will free your mind.

    2. A Mind Freed by Christ is a mind growing in Christ’s wisdom

      1. If you hold fast to Christ as your Head, you will grow in Christ’s wisdom. You see, when you are devoted to Him, He fills you with His life, and you come alive on the inside, and you grow. Jewish legalism will try to intimidate you into chasing shadows rather than following Christ. Pagan religion will try to disqualify you and take away your prize of the upward call of God in Christ. But when you are devoted to Christ, you will grow in Christ’s wisdom.

      2. Paul tells you 3 ways you will grow in Christ’s wisdom. Write these down! Consider them this week.

      3. Place: Growing in His body

        1. 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body

        2. The place where you experience this growth is in the body of Christ, the church.

        3. Outside of Christ’s body you have no hope of growing in Christ

          • Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

        4. The corporate church is in view - “the whole body

        5. The invisible or spiritual church is in view – this is the body that grows.

        6. Are you part of the church in a spiritual way? Do you abide in Christ by faith, have Him abide in you, and thereby bear fruit in your life? Is anything keeping you from taking part in the body of Christ?

        7. Is anything keeping you from taking part in the corporate church?

        8. Let nothing disqualify you for the prize of growing in Christ!

      4. Means: Growing in His nourishment & fellowship

        1. The means by which you experience this growth is His nourishment and fellowship.

        2. 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments

        3. nourished” - through the “means of grace”

          • Food & drink

            • Christ Himself is our food & drink

              • John 6:53-56 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

            • We feed on Christ through the “means of grace” - the word, prayer, and the sacraments

              • The word of Christ

                • Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

              • Prayer – devoted to a spiritual relationship with Christ! He calls you to...

                • Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

              • Sacraments

                • We still have food & drink! And a right use of them. We may even call Communion a New Testament “feast!” In fact, scripture calls it such in Jude 12 – a “love feast.

                • Christ calls you to “take,” and “eat,” remember and believe the body of the Lord, broken for you.

            • Question: What is keeping you from this nourishment?

            • Offerings – we still have food and drink in the NT. We also still have offerings. Is anything keeping you from offering your resources to Christ? Does He not feed you?

        4. knit” - social interaction in the church

          • You need the other members of Christ’s body. You need the joints, and ligaments. The other people in Christ’s church. You may think the other guy is an elbow, but if you’re an awkward thumb, you need him! As you spend time knowing, and loving, and serving another member of Christ’s body, Christ will knit you together with His people, and fill you with His life.

          • Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

          • Have you made a friendship in the church this year?

          • Have you deepened a friendship in the church this year?

          • Have you reached out to the sick, the hurting, the lonely in this congregation this year?

          • Or are you running away from the people in Christ’s church? And from Christ, in the process?

          • If so, you need to know that you’re also running away from Godliness.

      5. Nature: Growing in His Godliness

        1. The nature of this growth you experience is that it is a growth in Godliness.

        2. 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

        3. God is this growth’s source, and because of that, this growth bears His character. What is going on in you shows forth the nature of God, and shows the life of God at work in you.

          • God takes away the old man, and enables you to put on the new man.

            • Colossians 3:5 sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

            • Colossians 3:8 anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

            • Colossians 3:12-15 12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

          • What things are keeping you from growing in Godliness? Are you committed to an idea, or a practice, that follows the lead of the world rather than of Christ?

          • In which of these sins are you not yet holding fast to Christ and letting go of looking good on the outside? Are you caught up in a mere formalism or externalism?

          • In which of these virtues do you need to hold fast to Christ more firmly?

  1. Conclusion

    1. A Mind Freed by Christ is a mind...

      1. freed from error: Jewish Legalism & Pagan Religion

      2. devoted to Christ

      3. growing in Christ’s wisdom

    2. Christ’s promise:

      1. John 8:31-32 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

1Here it seems the Sabbaths in v. 38 are the weekly Sabbaths. The weekly Sabbaths are grouped with gifts, vow offerings, and freewill offerings—all things that are not so much symbolic and thereby ceremonial, but are more matters of worship from the heart. This seems to indicate that just as much as freewill offerings continue to be our privilege and duty today, so also is the weekly Sabbath. This is supported by the fact that the weekly Sabbath is introduced in v. 3 as foundational to the feasts, but is not grouped with them, and in fact is separated from them in v. 38 by the word “besides.” The feasts and their offerings are “besides the LORD’s Sabbaths.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 17:23