By Mike Dawson
Pastor Emeritus, First Baptist Church, Columbia
Focal Passage: Colossians 2:4-15
The prisoners often talked with me personally about their main focus: “getting out.” Almost every one of them wanted to see if I could (or knew someone who could) write letters in their behalf to hopefully speed up their “getting out” process.
We are now studying letters written by a prisoner. Isn’t it interesting that the prisoner himself never wrote about getting out? He always focused on getting out the Gospel! Today’s letter shows the Apostle Paul writing from a prison in Rome to his friends in Colossae about getting out the Gospel … of forgiveness.
This week’s text is Colossians 2:4-15. Paul begins by warning his friends in Colossae to beware of persuasive deception (verse 4). Some in our family recently had a personal experience with persuasive deception, or as Paul later says in verse 8, “cheating … through empty deceit.”
None of us had ever heard of rogue movers before; but we certainly know about them now.
The movers’ website was filled with totally deceptive words, and a 45-day moving nightmare proved just how deceptive it was.
Of course, horror stories like ours — and worse — abound, in a variety of situations; deceptive words seem to be the native tongue of today’s culture! But when words of empty deceit are spoken freely in our churches, it’s really, really in a mess.
Paul describes such a situation in verses 4-8, telling the Colossians that the answer to such deception is consistency: living a life of good order, faithful steadfastness, daily walking with the Lord, with deep roots and solid faith, and overflowing with thanksgiving. Beware of false teachings designed to deceive.
Verses 9-10 deal with the false teaching that nothing physical (of the flesh) is real or good, only things that are spiritual. Yet Jesus Christ lived in a physical body, Paul explained, and at the same time was fully God. He came in human flesh, yet was above “all principality and power” (verse 10). Remember that in Genesis God pronounced all His creation “good;” but after He created man and woman, in the flesh, He pronounced His works very good!
Like me, you may look at yourself in the mirror and think about all the flaws; but in Christ, each of us is complete: we’re “flawless,” and “whole.”
Paul deals with circumcision in verses 11-14. He isn’t referring to the surgical rite that was performed on all Jewish males, marking them as Israelites indeed. Instead he is speaking of the new birth, the spiritual “rite” of removing our sins through the power of Christ’s cross, marking all of us as His people.
Baptism portrays this “rite,” demonstrating our burial with Christ and rising to new life.
The final sentence in today’s study is verse 15, Paul pictures our crucified, risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, like a bloody conqueror, marching in victory over his foes. Who are those foes?
Sin and Satan, death and hell. And we, forgiven and complete in Him, are more than conquerors over those things, too! B&R — Dawson is pastor emeritus at First Baptist Church, Columbia, and also serves as transitional interim around the state.