There are many “religious” acts, that are done in the name of God. This “religion” is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as any kind of “A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith” and Paul describes these as “human commandments and teachings in Colossians 2:22 that have an “appearance of wisdom” but they in Colossians 2:23 “do not have any value against the indulgence of the flesh”. These things Paul says in Colossians 2:17 “are a shadow of what is to come, but the reality is Christ” so Paul goes on to say, in Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God”. There is a world that needs to know the love of God and we that know “the reality is Christ” are to “speak the mystery of Christ” in Colossians 4:3 and in Colossians 4:5–6 “Live with wisdom toward those outside, making the most of the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how it is necessary for you to answer each one”.
In Him All the Fullness of Deity Dwells Bodily
An Appearance of Wisdom in Self-Made Religion
What does it mean to be religious? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is:
- The service and worship of God or the supernatural
- Commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
- A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
- A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
It is only the first of these that even mentions God and as it does, it includes God as if He were the same as anything else supernatural we might think about.
It is this kind of association of “the service and worship of God” with a cause, a commitment, attitudes, and beliefs which can all represent any kind of thinking or behavior that is the heart of the word “religion”. Paul list some of these “religious” ideas, these man-made rules about what to eat or how to eat it or what to drink or not to drink or a feast or other special days that are somehow more holy than others in
Colossians 2:16 (LEB) “Therefore do not let anyone judge you with reference to eating or drinking or participation in a feast or a new moon or a Sabbath”
Of these things Paul says, they are a shadow in
Colossians 2:17 (LEB) “which are a shadow of what is to come, but the reality is Christ”
If those religious behaviors and acts are only a shadow and “the reality is Christ”, then what does true religion, “the reality”, “Christ” look like? It is none of these things and Paul cautions saying in
Colossians 2:18 (LEB) “Let no one condemn you, taking pleasure in humility and the worship of angels, going into detail about the things which he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind”
These “human commandments and teachings in Colossians 2:22 seem like wisdom, but have no value, no ability to help us with the real problem in life, our flesh as Paul says in
Colossians 2:23 (LEB) “which things although they have, to be sure, an appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and humility and unsparing treatment of the body, do not have any value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Christ is Seated at the Right Hand of God
Christ is Seated at the Right Hand of God
Put On the New Man
Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly
How is it that we become the people that God desires us to be? Do we know what those people look like? Jesus made it clear that it wasn’t the wealth of the world when he answered the rich young ruler in
Matthew 19:21 (LEB) ‘Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the proceeds to the poor—and you will have treasure in heaven—and come, follow me.” ’
but it also wasn’t that we were to vow poverty and have nothing we need for life because he commended the Samaritan who cared and paid the bill for a stranger in
Luke 10:35 (LEB) ‘And on the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him, and whatever you spend in addition, I will repay to you when I return” ’
So what is it that makes us the people God wants us to be? It isn’t just one thing and try as they might, the Jews could not fulfill the law and here Paul give us a good starting point in
Colossians 3:16 (LEB) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God”
It is good for us to read what Jesus said and live by His words which have the power to change us. Paul doesn’t stop with us reading and pondering the words of Christ, he also says that we are to “put on” these behaviors which are very much the fruit of the Holy Spirit who is our teacher and comforter and advocate in
Colossians 3:12 (LEB) “Therefore, as the chosen of God, holy and dearly loved, put on affection, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience”
We might convince ourselves that we have these attributes operating in us in abundance but then Paul says in
Colossians 3:13 (LEB) “putting up with one another and forgiving one another. If anyone should have a complaint against anyone, just as also the Lord forgave you, thus also you do the same”
This is the true test of our Christianity, can we “put up with”, can we “forgive” and still move forward with the plan and purpose God has for us and for our congregation? There is a bond that is necessary to hold us together and that is love, not the Hallmark pretty words kind, but the God kind that proves itself with thankless action that doesn’t grumble but remains thankful to the Lord in
Colossians 3:14–15 (LEB) “And to all these things add love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And the peace of Christ must rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful”
From the Lord You Will Receive the Reward
Speak the Mystery of Christ
We that believe the gospel of Jesus Christ have a great gift, our eternal salvation, our future home and place with Him in heaven. There is a world of people around us that don’t yet know the love of God so Paul encourages them in
Colossians 4:5–6 (LEB) “Live with wisdom toward those outside, making the most of the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how it is necessary for you to answer each one”.
It is right for us to consider our ways, our thoughts, and learn as we can, how best to approach those around us. It is also right though, that we don’t know who is ready and when they will receive so Paul also encourages them in
Colossians 4:2–4 (LEB) Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving, 3 praying at the same time for us also, that God may open for us a door of the message, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which also I am a prisoner, 4 so that I may reveal it, as it is necessary for me to speak”.
There are those that will listen to us and there are those that will hear through another, it is for us to pray always for laborers in God’s harvest field for our generation and “that God may open for us a door”.
- Colossians 2:16–23 An Appearance of Wisdom in Self-Made Religion
- Colossians 3:12–17 Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly
- Colossians 4:2–6 Speak the Mystery of Christ
- Colossians 2:6-23
- Colossians 3:1-18
- Colossians 4:1-6