When my wife Sandy was a teenager, she was bushwalking in the Hawkesbury with her family. As she was looking at the view with her binoculars, a big King brown snake leaned up to her waist level, swaying and getting ready to attack. Her Father whispered “Sandy don’t move, stay right where you are.” She did and is alive to tell the story.
The big idea of Colossians is that: MBM Don’t move-stay right where you are in Christ. But now that you are a Christian isn’t there a next step? Yes, there is a next step - God expects us to make progress. ‘I want to be more like Christ tomorrow than today’ Yet in another way, there is no next step.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him(NIV)
The message here is simple. The way you began the Christian life is the way you continue, walking with Christ as your Lord. It’s not like you shake hands with Jesus say ‘thank you for saving me.’ Then put the gift of eternal life in your wallet or purse and then move on to bigger and better things. The Jesus who is Lord of all is the Jesus you continue to bow the knee and bend your will to.
So what does growth look like? Colossians 2:7
rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (NIV)
Like a tree, the Christian life is about growing roots deep into Christ and like a building it's about being built up. The thing about trees is they are not supposed to move, trees grow roots and bear fruit but they don’t move or they will die.
We know when buildings move by earthquakes that it’s a disaster. I was in Christchurch New Zealand when I felt 2 aftershocks hit the house I was in. Firstly I fell out of bed and then I fell off the toilet.
Paul is saying: "stay with the Jesus you were taught" and not reluctantly but thankfully, grasping more and more of who our awesome Lord Jesus is. The false teachers were offering a different spirituality where you move on from Jesus.
See to it that no one takes you captive(NIV)
Its strong language:
Don’t let anyone take you prisoner
Don’t allow yourself to be spiritually kidnapped
I remember watching a Current affair show and with the parents permission the team wanted to see how easily children would follow a stranger into a car. They got a man in his 50s to tell the kids at the school gate that their mum asked him to pick them up. The parents were then shown the footage and they couldn’t believe how easy it was and these parent had taught their kids ‘Don’t go in cars with strangers’ the key reason was that the children had not been walked through the experience.
That is what Paul is doing that for us. How does Paul stop these Colossians and us from getting in the car with false teachers? He gives the negative answers and then the positive.
Step 1 - Shout out the warning
Just like a child is to shout aloud when a stranger is abducting them. Paul is warning, don’t be deceived by clever words. To tell Christians to not name false teachers is like telling a life guard to not scare the swimmers when there is a shark in the water.
Step 2 - Name it for what it is - Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (NIV)
Paul calls a spade a spade, if Christ is the fullness of God then the false teaching is hollow and empty. If Christ holds the full treasure of wisdom then these false teachings offer nothing but lies
Step 3 - Name the source of the teaching
Like all ideas, it comes from somewhere. The question is from where and from whom? The Colossians know where the message of Jesus comes from, Epaphras got it from Paul who got it from the Risen Christ who got it from his Father.The alternative is human ideas from the mouth of Satan. Paul makes the choice simple, you either listen to the Father of lies or you listen to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You either listen to the word of God or the words of men.
When you hear someone trying to persuade you; Offering you a higher life, a deeper spirituality, or give you the silver bullet. Don’t be gullible
Here are some questions to ask yourself?
I had a young women in a bible study and she met a man at Central station, he was a cult leader who had a commune in a country town. The day she met him was the day she followed him and is still there. She left Jesus for a man with a goatee.
Now 4 positive answers to stay with Jesus.
Answer #1 Know who is Jesus?
False teachers always like to make Christians feel like their missing out or afraid.
Colossians 2:9-10 provides the response.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. (NIV)
If the Christ who is in you rules over every power and authority - You won’t be intimidated
If you know Christ you know God and you have the fullness of God - You won’t feel inadequate
Because once you’re in Christ, you are in God - you’re complete. You will never have that fear of missing out.
Answer #2 Focus on the Cross - Colossians 2:11
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self, ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, (NIV)
Christ at the cross has circumcised your soul. Every Jewish male had his foreskin cut off on the 8th day, it was something done by human hands and it marked you out as part of God’s people. There is another circumcision given to men and women and done by Christ at the cross with no scalpel. We are in Christ because Christ was cut off at the cross, we were included because Christ had his flesh stripped off him.
It’s NOT the most user-friendly way to describe what Christ has done and I wouldn’t suggest starting a Jesus conversation with “Have you come to the point in your spiritual life where you know you are circumcised in Christ. No - where do I sign.”
The point is clear - If you’re in Christ - you’re in, male and female, Jew or non-Jew.
Counterfeit spirituality tells people to do things - You’re only in if you “Don’t touch this” or “don’t eat that,” or “cut this off.”
If we did a better job spreading the good news of Christ in the last 2000 years then how many women could have escaped female circumcision or genital mutilation? At present:
They are all trying to belong to their community and be accepted by their God. But Christ has circumcised your soul at the cross. He has done and you belong. Be thankful we have come out from the Old Testament shadow and into the light of Christ.
Answer # 3 - Union with Christ.
Our life is bound up with the life of Christ. Look at Colossians 2:12-13
having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. (NIV)
We normally think of our death as being in front of us but for Christians, our death is in our rearview mirror. It has already happened, having died with Christ we are forgiven, having been buried with Christ, so judgment has already fallen, having been raised in him we are already in heaven.
Peter Lewis said “Jesus did not so much see himself as having a destiny in the world as the world having a destiny in him.” Our destiny is bound up with Christ, where he was we were too, where he is we are too.
As a Christian your funeral was on that first Good Friday, your resurrection was on Easter Sunday. Understand that you won’t be wondering if you’re going to heaven because you are already there, you won’t find ways to come into the presence of God because you are in Christ’s presence.
Answer #4 The Cross cancels our debt - Colossians 2:14
He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. (NIV)
The written code is like a certificate showing the spiritual debts you owe God. Like a mortgage is a certificate of debt. It’s an IOU to God that stands against us, we all owe God a debt we could never pay. When the Lord Jesus went to the cross, He took that IOU and nailed it to the cross, then it was torn up and it was cancelled. The paper work to get you to heaven is done, in Christ you’re forgiven.
Imagine if on Monday your bank manager phones up and your $450,000 house mortgage has been torn up or your $30,000 Car loan is cancelled. How much better to have Jesus say ‘No more IOU’ That my friends is forgiveness, with it - Satan is gutted.
Answer #5 The cross disarmed the Devil - Colossians 2:15
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (NIV)
Once your penalty is paid and debt is covered Satan can’t use your sins against you.
If a King Brown Snake has no venom then my wife, Sandy, did not need to be intimidated by it. At the cross, the venom of Satan was removed. Unable to accuse you and condemn you.
One of my favourite Hymns is Before the Throne of God. Here are the lyrics from my favourite verse:
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
Last week I was answering MBM kids questions and one 10 year old asked: “Did Satan know that when he entered Judas to betray Jesus to be crucified at the cross, that it would be Satan’s undoing?” WOW - I said either Satan did know but couldn’t help himself or he didn’t know and he was caught in his own evil.
Ever since Adam’s first sin, Satan has been rubbing our guilt in our face, shaming us, holding the threat of hell over each of us, and he could do it. But not any more! Christ paid that ransom and set us free and stripped Satan of his right to condemn you. But what’s a victory if you can’t rub your enemies nose in it. Christ may look like he was stripped naked and shamed at the cross, but it is Satan who was stripped of his weapons and left as the laughing stock before the universe. Like Romans Armies would humiliate their enemies and drag them around Rome, so now Satan is left to watch more and more people taken from his kingdom of darkness, powerless as yet another person enters the kingdom of the Son. Maybe today you will make Satan wince as you surrender to Christ.
That is why each gathering of Christians is a declaration that Satan has lost and the Lord Jesus is truly the ruler of the universe.
“So Don’t Move. Stay right where you are in Christ Jesus.”
Luther had a dream of Satan at the foot of his bed, reading out a list of sins in his own hand writing, as Luther sank in guilt he remembered the gospel, the blood of Jesus washes away my sins.
“Don’t Move. Stay right where you are in Christ Jesus.”
But if you’re not in Christ then don’t stay where you are, for you are spiritually dead, an enemy of God and in the kingdom of darkness. Come to Christ, the one who made you and who you were made for. Christ, who alone is able to forgive your sin.