WHAT IT MEANS TO BE:
a Study in Colossians
|All that goes before Christ points to Christ and
His fulfillment. Jesus Christ has fulfilled all the prophecies, as well as the types and shadows
which include the priestly and prophetic offices, sacrifices, rituals, holy days and feasts of the
Old Testament. We are complete in Him.
In Hebrews 10, we are told:
1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
The Old Testament sacrifices fell far short of righteousness and making one perfect in God's sight because they had to be repeated often, and because they pointed to something greater. They were only types and shadows of That which was to come!
As soon as an offering was made, it became obsolete. An offering was made for a particular sin or to atone for all sin for a certain period of time. As soon as it was offered, the offerer went back out and sinned again. If he did not sin in action, he sinned in thought and purposes of the heart. For God looks on the heart. Man is a sinner in his heart. His sinful heart conjures up sin, and then he carries it out in his physical body. Or he may not carry it out at all; nevertheless, if it is in his heart, it is sin, and separates him from a Holy God.
The animal sacrifies brought again to remembrance the sins that had been committed. (Heb. 10:3). The conscience thus remained defiled. God not only wants sin to cease; He wants the remembrance of it banished, and He wants hearts and minds pure before Him!
But now is come Christ Jesus, the Perfect Sacrifice! In Him is embodied ALL of the sacrifices of the Old Testament. He died once and for all, was raised from the dead and must never die again. It is finished; it is complete; and ye are complete in Him! What glorious words are those!
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Complete in Christ
Let us analyze the "Complete in Christ" passage, Colossians 2:6 - 3:4:
2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him;
This may be correlated to Gal. 5:16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. As new creations in Christ, we have the Spirit of Christ in us. Paul tells us to live our lives as in Christ and walk after His Spirit.
2:7 Rooted and built up in hm, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Jesus Christ is the foundation and the fulfillment of our faith. We are to live in Him and thank God always for what He has done and is doing for us in Christ.
2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.
We must account that we will allow no man or institution to deceive us and pull us back into walking after the flesh and the rudiments (philosophies, traditions and practices) of the world, and not after Christ. God's way is not in accordance with the ways of the world, or with sin-ridden natural man and his thinking. There are men who would seek to manipulate and control you, and mislead you so that they may have power and status. However, it is Christ Who is our Life. We are not to yield or surrender ourselves to false teaching, or to false teachers' manipulation and control. We are to yield oursleves to God in Christ Jesus.
9. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
Jesus Christ came as the Perfect, Unspotted Son of God. He is God, and in Him rests the fullness of God. We are "in Him," by virtue of our being made sons of God and placed in Him, in His substitutionary death, burial and resurrection on our behalf. Therefore, since in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, then we who are "in Him" have as our possession and our right all of this fullness. We are "complete in Him." We have here a picture of the unity for which Christ prayed in John 17:20-23: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: That they all may be one as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us... And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." Christ is one with God the Father. We are in Christ; He has made us one in Him.
11. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.
This verse speaks of Old Testament circumcision and its meaning in Christ. The circumcision of the Old Testament was a physical act performed on all males of Israel. it was a sign designating the person as a child of God, by virtue of being part of the nation Israel, God's chosen people. The sign of the New Covenant making us children of God is "spiritual circumcision," which many call conversion, or being "born again." We are in Christ by virtue of the fact that we have had this spiritual circumcision performed on us by God. Having received it, we have faith, understanding of spiritual things, fellowship and communion with God and His people. We also have forgiveness of sins, without which we would not be able to experience any of the other blessings of God; for we could not stand before Him. In Christ, we stand spotless before God, because Christ is Spotless before God.
12. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
Baptism typifies and signifies our death in the substitutionary death of Christ, and also our rising with Him to new life. Water baptism is a beautiful picture of immersion into the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, but it does not effect salvation. The "operation of God" here signifies a supernatural, spiritual procedure, not made with human hands, wherein we are "in Christ."
13. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.
The trespass offering of the Old Covenant was for individual sins. The Perfect Sacrifice of Christ was given to cover and take away all trespasses. In Christ, we are forgiven of all trespasses. "You, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh..." speaks of Gentile believers who did not even have the benefit of the Old Testament law and ordinances to begin with. Even though we are physically uncircumcised, we are circumcised with the operation of God, joined to Christ and, so, complete in Him. A circumcised Jew, by virtue of that physical operation, is no longer the one who is joined with God. He may receive the circumcision not made with hands, and become a child of God, along with Gentile believers, As Paul says in Romans, "But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Rom. 2:29)
14. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.
Symbolically, the ordinances are to be viewed as nailed to his cross so that they are put to death with Him. His death is on our behalf, and our faith in his death causes us to die with Him, and with us the law. The law, that is the handwritten law, on tablets of stone, is God's Holy standard. Its purpose is not to make us holy, but to bring us to Christ. Adherence to the law must be perfect in order to justify man before God. No one outside of Jesus has ever kept the law perfectly, and so everyone stands condemned under the law. The law written in tables of stone is rigid, cannot be broken. To break the law is to die spiritually. It condemns, and makes sin manifest. The law makes us realize we are vile sinners, separated from God. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were constantly brought to atone for the breaking of this law. But they were imperfect, and could not take away sin. Christ "nailed" these ordinances to his cross, so that His death and resurrection could open up a better way: the Law of Love, the Law of Grace, the Law of being led of the Spirit. In this, we are complete in Him.
15. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
In verse 1:16 we are told that by Christ all things were created, including all principalities and powers. Nothing that is created can forever stand in rebellion againsts its Creator. Christ openly defeated Satan and his horde of demons at the cross. In Him, they have no control over us. That is our triumph.
16, 17. Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days, Which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.
All of the ceremonial law has been fulfilled in Christ. Old Testament worship consisted of times and seasons, physical acts and rituals. Man had to perform by rigid law which set forth the time and order in which all religious acts had to be carried out. All these things were a shadow of the New Covenant to be fulfilled in Christ. In the New Covenant we have entered a time when worship towards God does not depend on times, seasons, rituals, religious acts. It does not even consist of "going to church" on a certain day. For we are the church; we do not go to church! Hebrews tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and that is what we call "church" today. Christians usually assemble on the first day of the week, the day that commemorates Christ's being raised from the dead; but there is no ordinance that we must do so! Today we worship God in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) True worship is an act of God on our behalf; He gives us the power to worship Him in spirit and in truth. We worship Him in His Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let no man convince you that you must observe rituals, holydays, etc. in order to be right with God. You are right with God in and through Christ.
18. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility, and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.
This speaks of falling prey to false teaching which offers some other way to God than by faith in Christ, and being complete in Christ. In the day in which Paul spoke, there were teachers who wanted their followers to pray to angels and others, and to practice certain rites that may bring into submission the flesh, but that have no spiritual reward. Today, there are also such false teachers who would have their followers punish themselves, pray to saints and others instead of directly to God, and practice certain rituals and acts in order to attempt to be perfect. Such acts have no benefit in the spiritual life. In fact, in leading away from the truth in Christ Jesus, they do great harm! You are complete in Him, and are to stay away from such perversion of the truth.
19. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment administered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
The Head is Jesus Christ. Those who are false teachers, attempting to bring in Old Testament law, or new methods of uniting with God, are "not holding to the Head," which is Christ. He is the Head of the Church, the body, of which we are a part if we are "in Him." It is God Who holds it all together, and it is God who nourishes, administers, and knits it together. It is God Who gives the increase. It is He who has saved us and placed us in Christ. (Col. 1:13) It is God Who will give the increase until we all come into a unity of the faith, and grow up in Him.
20 - 23
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not, taste not, handle not,) Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
You are dead to the world through the Cross, so you have been freed from the rudiments of the world. You are dead in Christ, so Christ has freed you. Why, then, would we return to ordinances that tell us we must do a certain thing on a certain day, not eat this, not drink that, instead of resting in the fact that Christ has died for us and been raised for us, so that we are "new creations" and complete in Him? Rigid discipline in obeying rules and regulations demonstrates strong self will, but it is just that: it is centered in "self." It is, "What I do to please God." Jesus Christ has pleased God, and you are "in Him." Be complete in that. People practice asceticism, the denial of the flesh, in an effort to please God. Outwardly, it appears very holy. But it cannot harness the sensual appetites of man's sinful nature (the flesh.) Circumcision of the heart, the operation of God, is necessary. Christ provides that; and you are complete in Him.
3:1 - 4
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
This verse correlates with Romans 6:4-11. Romans 6:11 says, "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." We are risen with Christ, since He is our life. Therefore, we are to seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Because He sits on the right hand of God, we are there, too, because we are "in Christ." We are to "sit" and "set." Sit in Heavenly Places with Him and set our affection in the heavenly realms, where Christ is seated with God. As we do that, His Spirit indwells us, directing us how we are to live out our lives daily. We are dead in the crucified Christ; we are alive in the resurrected Christ, and are hid with Him in God. Our blessed hope and promise is that we will always be in Him, and wherever He is, there we are. When He comes again in power and glory, we shall also be with Him.
Our being in Christ, by the virtue of His being the spotless Son of God offered up for us in fulfillment of everything promised in the Old Testament, is eternal. Just as He died, rose again and is eternally with God, so are we, because we are eternally "complete in Him."
"IT IS FINISHED!"
Wherever He is, we are; and we are Complete in Him. Rest in that.