Next, Paul turns to the false teachings that were beginning to infect the church at Colosse (322). He was concerned with religious rituals, or what we might call today denominational distinctives. These may sound good at first, but if we cannot trace them back to the ministry & teachings of Jesus, then they’re only going to divide the body of Christ & lead us astray.
Paul first addresses the Judaizers – the folks who taught that a Gentile had to become a good Jew before he could become a good Christian, specifically by being physically circumcised. In Paul’s view, this was Jewish rule-bondage at its worst. We have a better, spiritual circumcision in Jesus; Jesus is all we need.
Then Paul addresses the pre-Gnostics — people who insisted on compliance with various religious rituals which had never been taught by Jesus. Essentially, the pre-Gnostics claimed that Jesus had given them private revelations about the necessity of certain rituals — revelations that normal everyday Christians were too immature to receive.
Paul replied that such rules & rituals may seem godly, especially when they require strong commitment. But Paul insisted that they offer no help in overcoming sin; nothing that we can do ourselves will overcome our sin. For that, Jesus is all we need.
As in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul emphasizes that we must submit to the rule of our spirit rather than the rule of our flesh. This is the key to our life in Christ. This is how the new self overcomes the old self. This is how we are able to live as models of compassion, humility, kindness, forgiveness & love.
If Christ is our life, as Paul claims, how is that supposed to look in everyday life? As in the letter to the Ephesians, Paul briefly tells the Colossians of the differences that Jesus wants to make in marriage, in parenting, and in the workplace.
Then Paul concludes by encouraging the Colossian believers to rely on God in every aspect of their lives, especially in their jobs for Jesus. Pray about everything, Paul counsels; be guided by the Holy Spirit in everything. After all, that’s what Jesus did.
(322) Colossians 2:16-4:18