Colossians 2:11-14 Spirituality That Profits Nothing

by | Mar 29, 2023 | Colossians, New Testament

I. How One Is Complete In Christ

A. Not Our Human Efforts, But His Finished Work V. 11

1. Most of the Colossian male believers were uncircumcised physically.

a. False teachers were telling them they needed this for a higher degree of spirituality.

b. That dietary restrictions, special days, circumcision, would give them higher spirituality

c. Paul explained that they had been sp. circumcised, which was all that was needed.

2. In the Old Testament, Jewish men were to be identified with God through the rite of circumcision. A cutting away of the foreskin, a marking in the body.

a. They were to obey God’s laws, & separate themselves from surrounding pagan nations.

b. The Jews took great pride in circumcision and other external religious practices. Instead of these practices being an outward sign that reflected of a love for God, these practices became a source of spiritual pride, & they felt justified because of their external actions.

c. God had called them to be “circumcised of heart”. Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4

d. The temptation to be extremely religious thru circumcision was being suggested to these Gentile Christians from some Jewish influence. It would appeal to the idea of religious accomplishment, but it was unneeded, and would be useless.

e. Thru faith in Christ, He had already made them a separated people.

3. “The circumcision of Christ” is Paul’s way of saying that they were joined to God by the fact that Jesus gave His body as opposed to them needing to cut their bodies.

4. “Circumcision w/o hands”– That inner work done by God, and not by man’s efforts.

5. Rather than being identified thru an external act, they were identified thru faith in Jesus, and His act of dying for our sins, which was a far greater act. They were complete in Christ

B. Newness Of Life V. 12

1. Paul likens baptism to burial. Burial takes place when a life has ended.

2. A person accepts Christ, & spiritually speaking, that person dies & is born again. It is as if that sinful person died, but was then raised to life, with a new life in Christ.

3. Baptism doesn’t give new life, it simply represents it, and is a testimony of the Believer.

4. This picture (baptism) shows that the work is of God. A dead person cannot raise himself to life. If we put our faith in Christ, then God does the work of making us born again.

C. Forgiveness Of Sins Vs. 13, 14

1. Prior to conversion, the unsaved person is dead in their trespasses. Out of relationship w/God. Trespasses– a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness, a sin, misdeed

2. The unsaved person is spiritually dead because they have sinned against God; they have not lived as they should have lived. They have broken God’s laws & commands.

a. The Bible doesn’t say we are sick, needing to regain spiritual health.

b. It says we are spiritually dead, and that we need spiritual life.

3. There is a list of requirements they have not kept, & are therefore guilty before God.

a. That list of requirements is a good list. Start with the 10 Commandments.

b. Romans 7:12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

c. There would be no need for law enforcement if people obeyed the 10 Commandments.

4. That list of commandments is contrary to the unsaved person. The list is good, but people fail to obey the list. The list of requirements is the Word of God. There is nothing wrong w/the list; but the list condemns us, because we have failed to obey God’s commands.

5. That list, which is good, becomes contrary to us, because we are guilty and condemned. Spiritually dead to God, condemned, and destined to eternity without God.

6. When we are born again, we are made alive to God.
Ezekiel 36:26, 27 26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

7. V. 14– When a person was crucified, they had to carry a plaque to the place of execution, which named their crimes. The condemned man would have that plaque paraded before him, as he was marched through the streets, on his way to die for his crimes.

8. Jesus took your list, and died in your place.

9. If you receive the pardon that Jesus offers, that list cannot be applied to you. It was nailed to the cross; those crimes being paid for by Jesus himself.

10. If you do not receive forgiveness for your sins, that list will be read by God himself when you are judged. That list is contrary to you, and will forever be contrary to you, unless you receive the pardon that comes through Jesus Christ.

11. NOTE– The handwriting was taken out of the way. Removed for the person that puts their faith in Jesus Christ.

12. If you have received forgiveness through Jesus Christ, leave that list nailed up on the cross, and don’t carry it around with you.

The Gnosticism of Colossae didn’t seem to insist that these things were needed for salvation.

They did suggest that these things were needed for a fuller, more complete Christian life.

What and how does this “seem” to make sense then, and why is it tempting?

1. Because though we have been forgiven of our sins, we still struggle with sin.

2. We become discouraged with our setbacks, our struggles, our lack of experiential godliness.

3. We want to stop sinning. We want a closer walk with God. We want to change.

4. We think that doing non-biblical, unneeded spiritual exercises will bring us closer to God.

5. Our efforts are applauded by others who tend to think that pure human effort can produce spirituality. That approval can give us self satisfaction, self righteous feelings.

6. We need to remember that we are completely saved and that our spirituality is found in Christ, and whatever he may direct us to do through His Word or by His Spirit.

7. The efforts of the flesh profit nothing, regardless of how spiritual they may appear.

Paul summarizes this section by saying that self-imposed religion is of no value.
This characterizes legalism, which is known more for what you cannot do than for what God has done for you.

The Colossians were adding to their Christianity. Efforts of the flesh to produce spiritual results.
We cannot add to what Jesus has done for us.
We are not more saved by obeying religious traditions, not made more holy.

Paul says that these things can make us look good on the outside.
We can appear to be very religious by doing these extra, but non-beneficial religious deeds.
These things distract, minimize Jesus, and put us into bondage, while they don’t deliver increased holiness.