“ So if, through your faith in Christ, you are dead to the principles of this world’s life, why, as if you were still part and parcel of this world-wide system, do you take the slightest notice of these purely human prohibitions—“Don’t touch this,” “Don’t taste that” and “Don’t handle the other”… Colossians 2
This is not about keeping rules
Song People rest in their faith in Christ. We rest in the fact that our sin nature has been completely killed off by Christ’s work on the cross (Romans 6-8). So much of Paul’s ministry while he was writing the letters was arguing against the religious rhetoric of his time–rhetoric, I might add, that is still vibrant in much of the church today.
The religious leaders in Colossae were working their best to get people to keep all kinds of religious practices and to abstain from all kinds of natural activities in order to please God and ensure their salvation.
This is where these verses come from in Colossians. Paul is encouraging believers to focus solely on Jesus as the sustainer of their faith, not looking to the law or other outside realities. Before these verses Paul writes, “In view of these tremendous facts, don’t let anyone worry you by criticizing what you eat or drink, or what holy days you ought to observe, or bothering you over new moons or sabbaths.”
Paul is speaking against what the religious leaders were trying to lay on the people. They were teaching that people had to abstain from certain foods and celebrate certain festivals in order to make God happy.
There is actually a few sentences after that scripture about not touching and tasting and handling which sums up what Paul is talking about nicely. Here they are: “This”, “that” and “the other” will all pass away after use! I know that these regulations look wise with their self-inspired efforts at worship, their policy of self-humbling, and their studied neglect of the body. But in actual practice they do honour, not to God, but to man’s own pride.
Being told by the religious crowd to do this and not to do that only honors pride…not God.
There is nothing anyone needs to do in order to keep God madly in love with them. If what scripture says doesn’t prove it, simple logic will. Love, as we know it, does not keep a record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). You don’t make your spouse leap certain hurdles in order for you to keep loving them. We are the bride of Christ (Song of Songs 4). God, likewise, does not require us to leap hurdles and keep religious duties in order for him to keep loving us or for us to stay in the safety of his salvation. Do you have a greater grasp of God’s love and protection than God does? Are you able to love better than him? I have my doubts about that.
Paul, earlier in Colossians 2, writes the following delicious sentences: “He has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross. And then having drawn the sting of all the powers ranged against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act!”
The work Jesus did on the cross was enough to forgive ALL your sins past, present, and future. You are fully redeemed and fully sanctified and fully alive with Jesus. You are seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) with Jesus. You have been co-crucified, co-resurrected, and you are a co-heir with him. There is nothing you did and nothing you need to do in order for his honey-like salvation bliss to keep you and love you. You are complete in him. Your salvation is complete in him. You are saved.
His “final glorious triumphant act” was death and resurrection–what we all the finished work of the cross!
Act like a Christian
Romans 6 states it clearly: “so what do we do, then? Do we persist in sin so that God’s kindness and grace will increase? What a terrible thought!” God’s Word translation says it well, too: “Should we continue to sin so that God’s kindness[a] will increase? That’s unthinkable!”
There are some who have taken this message of free grace to a point of silliness by spreading the rumor that since we are under grace we can live like hell and it doesn’t matter. Anyone who preaches such a thing has completely missed the point and has lost connection with the head–Jesus!
Your sin nature has been killed. You’ve died with Christ (Romans 6) and sin doesn’t make its home in you anymore. In fact, you are no longer you! You have been redesigned and you have been possessed by Jesus himself! You have been clearly recrafted into a new creation (Colossians 3:11). The JB Phillips says it well, “In this new man of God’s design there is no distinction between Greek and Hebrew, Jew or Gentile, foreigner or savage, slave or free man. Christ is all that matters for Christ lives in them all.”
The Bible is clear on the topic of sin: you are no longer a sinner becuase Jesus took away the nature of sin on the cross and you have to act like you’re saved.
You’re not going to pretend like you are the old man any longer. You’re not going to lie to your friends, or curse people, or take part in drunken orgies and playing sport with porn at 3 AM in your office with the door closed. You were bought at a price, paid for completely, proposed to (and you said YES…Song of Songs 4), and possessed by Jesus himself. You’re new and clean and holy.
Just because your sin nature is dead doesn’t mean that you still won’t sin. But when you do sin, you’re not going to hang around long! Dust yourself off and move on. You don’t have to struggle with a particular sin. Just choose not to struggle! You belong to Jesus! You are brand new! You aren’t your own anymore! The dead man didn’t come back to life, Jesus did!
Some have gotten confused between not working to please God and acting like a Christian. You please God by being you! He’s madly in love with you. And since that’s the case, stop sinning! In fact, you shouldn’t even want to since you’ve been killed off and brought back to life!
You aren’t proving anything to God by choosing not to cheat on your taxes or sleep around with your co-workers except that you love him and are grateful for his gift of grace and love and sanctification! By not doing those things you aren’t getting more spiritual. By not sinning you are just acting like you’ve come to the revelation of your salvation bliss in Jesus! Yay God!
I hope you have a wonderful weekend and be sure to check us out on YouTube on Saturday where I’ll recap all of this and maybe offer a few more insights.
If you haven’t already, grab a copy of my Mix Tape Bible Romans 6 for your reading pleasure.