Verse 1 – For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,
Laodicea was located a few miles northwest of Colosse. Like the church at Colosse, the Laodicea church was probably founded by one of Paul’s converts while Paul was staying in Ephesus. In the book of Revelation, Christ would criticize the believers of this church for being lukewarm.
Verse 2 – that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,
Verse 3 – in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Believers need solid, firm, relationships with other Christians. Sometimes that’s hard to find, because even within the church, we find people living any way they want and some of us do not want any part of that. In and through Christ, all wisdom and knowledge is found. In reference to this wisdom and knowledge, a great treasure is housed.
Verse 4 – Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.
Verse 5 – For though I am absent int he flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
The problem that Paul was combating in the Colossian church was similar to Gnosticism. This heresy undermined Christianity. It’s contrary to Bible doctrine. (1) It insisted that important secret knowledge was hidden from most believers. (2) It taught that the body was evil. (3) It contended that Christ seemed to be human, but was not. Paul taught that Christ was fully human and fully God.
People can be easily persuaded by false doctrine when they don’t know the truth. The only way to know heresy when yo hear it, is to know true Biblical doctrine.
Freedom From Vain Philosophy
Verse 8 – Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Christian’s obtain their doctrine from Scripture. The world has a way of sliding their traditions into the worship of Christ and into the modern church. This is a strong warning to all believers. When man-made laws, rules, and rituals become part of your religion, then that is heresy. We must know God’s word to avoid anything that is not associated with faith in Christ. (And yes, there are principles and standards we live by.)
Verse 9 – For in Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily;
Every system that denies this is in denial of the doctrine which Paul had taught. Almost all heresy began by some form of denial of the great central truth of the incarnation of the Son of God.
“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,” means that all of God was in Christ’s human body. When we have Christ we have everything we need for salvation and right living.
Verse 10 – and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
There is a completion in each believer, filling us up with: wisdom to guide us; the atonement to be made for sin; the merit by which a sinner can be justified, and the grace which is needed to sustain us in trials, and to aid us int he duties of life.
Freedom From Judgment of Men
Verse 11 – In Him you were also circumcised with circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
Verse 12 – buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
The circumcision of the Messiah was spiritual and associated with circumcision of the heart. Baptism relates to Christ’s death and burial. Believer’s baptism symbolizes union with Christ in death and complete separation from the former way of life. Believers are raised with Him through faith, according to God’s power.
Verse 13 – And you , being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
Before believing in Jesus, our nature was evil. We did not love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind. The resurrection of Christ was the means of imparting to us spiritual life. Now, the Christian has a new nature. That old rebellious nature is replaced with a loving nature. The penalty of sin died with Christ on the cross. God has declared us not guilty, and we need no longer live under sin’s power.
Verse 14 – having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
The written requirements that was wiped out were the legal demands of the Old Testament Laws. The law demanded payment for sin with a blood sacrifice. That blood sacrifice was paid in full on Calvary by Jesus Christ. Our sins were forgiven and forgotten by God, washed away, but only if you believe.
Verse 15 – Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
By Christ’s death, He subdued and defeated Satan and his fallen angels, and recaptured those who had been held in bondage by sin.
Verse 16 – Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths,
Verse 17 – which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Paul told the Colossian Christians not to worry about others criticizing them for not observing Jewish diets and religious ceremonies. This goes for today’s Christian also.
As Christians, we don’t live up to other people’s standards. We follow the Bible and our focus stays on Christ!
Freedom From Improper Worship
Verse 18 – Let no one defraud you of a reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, introducing into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
Verse 19 – and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body is nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase which is from God.
The false teachers were full of pride for their humility. They brought attention and praises to themselves, not God. They were puffed up! People do this today when they talk negatively about themselves, so others will think them more spiritual. False humility is self-centered.
Freedom From Doctrine of Men
Verse 20 – Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations –
Verse 21 – “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”
Verse 22 – which all concern things which perish with the using – according to the commandments and doctrines of men?
Verse 23 – These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Simply put – Our salvation does not depend on our own discipline and rule-keeping, but on the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Here’s some of the ways we can know we are following man-made laws: Ask yourself these questions: (1) Am I doing a man-made taboo rather than God’s grace? (2) Does what I am doing make me have a critical spirit towards others that don’t follow certain rules? (3) Do I stress more importance on visions and dreams, more than the word of God? (4) Do I elevate self-righteousness more than honoring Christ? (5) Do I think discipline of the body means spiritual growth?
Keep in mind: Following religious rules and laws that are man-made cannot change your heart. You may look super moral to others, but only the Holy Spirit can change the heart!