Even So, Walk in Him
"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude." (Colossians 2:6, 7)
Have you ever gone through a time when your faith was almost non-existent? Did you ever go through the motions and feel like your Christian experience was cold and impersonal? Victory can seem meaningless because there is so little to be had, at times, if we would be honest about our spiritual condition.
When writing to the Church at Colosse, Paul began with great expectation for the Church to which he was writing. He made statements like, "...since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints..." (1:4), "...he also informed us of your love in the Spirit..." (1:8). He does not stop there but went on to write, "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you..." (1:9)
Paul understood where there are great faith and love; there will also be significant opposition. In the first chapter, Paul continues with an account of the pre-eminent Christ, exalting Him above all flesh, so that His hearers could fix Him in their mind as the only source of their salvation. In this context, he makes a critical statement, which we must not be miss. "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities..." (1:16).
Of whom does the Apostle write? The answer is straightforward and carries the idea of two worlds. One world is seen, the other is not, one is on earth, the other is not, and both have God's designated authority. When Paul admonishes his readers, including you and me, and makes Christ the centerpiece of victory, including rulers, he says it this way. "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority..." (2:9, 10). His reference to rulers that continues throughout his letter points to both visible and invisible ones.
Paul had hope for the Colossians, but that hope did not stop him from making this statement also, "For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf...". Paul was a man of extraordinary faith, but his faith did not prevent him from living in reality. The reality is, every Christian faces a great struggle to live a godly life. All Christians begin as babies on a battlefield.
The source of that struggle includes rulers that exalt themselves above God and seek to influence all people but especially the godly to evil. Invisible rulers control visible rulers to accomplish their evil purposes against the One true God they believe exists and hate. "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder" (James 2:19). Do we?
Paul preached the Gospel with insight previously unseen in the Old Testament even though it was written therein. He calls such truths mysteries. "Of this Church, I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me ...the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages..." (2:25, 26). These mysteries included God's intention to save people from all nations, which meant both Jew and Gentile were made one.
In the mind and heart of God, prejudice ended in Christ and at the cross. The only complete and perfect victory over sin is at the cross. Men of this world can squabble over what's important and how to accomplish it, but Christ is the only answer to every problem. Do you find such a statement troubling? Consider what Paul wrote in (2:8).
"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." Many are the philosophies that can take us captive. They are in the teachings of Darwin and Freud and every field of learning. The most dangerous are in religious teachings that have no God but false gods as their rulers.
Yes, there are philosophies, traditions, and elementary principles in the Church of the living God. Why are there so many Churches with so many varied ideas? Division marks the current Church that has continued to divide for five centuries. Traditions, as an example, include Christmas.
Please don't jump on me too quickly. It is possible to include fun in ways that can capture your heart and ruin the truth that resides within you if not identified as worldly. Then conscience goes to work. In my case, Santa has no part in my celebration, but that is according to my conscience, and I would not place that reality upon you. Unless, of course, you have a conscience like mine. All I am saying is Santa was not present at the manger. If you want to have fun with Santa and your conscience does not bother, good. It is okay if Santa doesn't tarnish your understanding of the singular importance of the birth of Christ.
Paul also writes of elementary principles. Such principles include, what I will call, Divine power and earthly means. Paul, preaching in ancient Greece, said, "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your poets have said..." (Acts 17:28). Divine power controls all things, but we also understand that if we don't get out of bed, we will remain there.
Much emphasis is placed upon what men refer to as a means of grace. The phrase itself confuses the issue. If it is of grace, it is no longer of works. Be careful. It is vital not to confuse grace and works. To pray, read God's word, fast, fellowship, to name a few, are crucial to spiritual maturity and life. However, turn your attention away from Christ for a minute, and you will find yourself so far from shore, you will not be able to find your way back. God uses means to accomplish His will.
Therefore, how does Colossians 2:8-10 conclude? After mentioning the things that distract us and keep us from transfixing our attention upon Jesus. He says, "...rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority..." It is not our carrying out some "means of grace' that is the solution to living an overcoming life. It is our focus upon Christ as the only means to our victory. When Christ is your focus, you will want to be near Him, love Him, and please Him. As a result of love, you will read, pray, and fellowship; only then will it be with the right motivation.
Truths to Consider:
Do not overestimate your spiritual condition, whether you are young and on fire or old and seasoned.
We wrestle against earthly foes that are evil enough and invisible authorities that we cannot beat apart from Christ.
We face a struggle as babies on a battlefield; therefore, let us grow up by transfixing our eyes upon the only one who can mature us by His grace.
Maturity is observed in part by unity in the faith. Divisiveness is the behavior of carnal babies at best. (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
Please make no mistake, worldly "...philosophy, and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ..." bring men into captivity. Beware!
When broken down to their lowest common denominator, the world's elementary principles are, in our current culture, known as "self-help."
If you are not seeing Christ as pre-eminent over all things and by whom all things are possible and apart from whom nothing good is possible - in life you're missing the point.
To walk in Christ as we have received Him is to walk in the same manner of humility it took to bow the knee as a dirty, wretched sinner deserving of nothing but eternal hell before the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, He alone can save us by a work accomplished two-thousand years ago. Walking any other way than what it means in truth to receive Him is to circumvent Christ and manifest pride.
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