Colossians 2:16-23 Asceticism Doesn’t Produce Holiness

by | Mar 29, 2023 | 0 comments

I. Legalism Vs. 16, 17

A. Why They Didn’t Need Legalism

1. V. 16 is a summary verse that looks back to what has been said. “So….”

2. Vs. 6 & 7 – You started right with Jesus…don’t deviate but go deeper.

3. Vs. 9 & 10 – Jesus is God, over all, and you are complete in Him.

4. Vs. 11, 12 – You were joined to Jesus by faith, not by works.

5. Vs. 13, 14 – He made you spiritually alive by dying for your sins.

6. V. 15 –  He disarmed Satan’s dominion over our souls, & his formerly legitimate technique of accusing us. Satan can’t legitimately accuse a forgiven Christian.

B. Why Would The Colossians Be Tempted Towards Legalism?

1. They wanted to have victory over the sins of our flesh, which is good. V. 23

2. Because people can be compelling/persuasive in carnal arguments. Vs. 4, 8

a. Others may struggle with certain sins, and decide they need rules.

b. They then insist that you need the same rules to be “serious about Jesus”.

C. The Legalism Of Colossae

1. V. 16. Legalists judge you. Krino- to take you to task.

2. Food or drink, festival, new moon, Sabbaths– The things under consideration.

3. V. 17– Shadow versus substance (soma- body). What were the shadows?

a. Example- Deuteronomy 14

i. 14:2 Gives the principle behind the laws.

ii. V. 1– Superstition regarding the dead.

iii. Vs. 3-20 Dietary restrictions

iv. V. 21– Strange dietary laws, & the reason for them

b. What was the purpose of the Law- separation from worldliness to God

i. Vs. 2, 21e-Separation from worldliness, pagan lifestyle, separated unto God. (certainly, health benefits, but those were secondary)

ii. QUESTION– Could a Jew do all these things externally, but not be changed internally? Certainly. These laws didn’t change the heart.

4. The Law was a shadow of a greater and coming reality.

a. Ex.– Tom Hank’s photo of his engaged girlfriend in the movie Castaway.

b. When he returned home, he desired her, not her photo.

5. The Christian has freedom regarding dietary choices. Romans 14:1-4

6. Legalistic dietary restrictions for spirituality is demonic. 1 Timothy 4:1-5

a. Why? It exalts man’s efforts at spiritual transformation.

b. It diminishes Jesus as the One who transforms His people.

c. Satan wants to put people in spiritual bondage.

d. True spiritual separation is thru relationship w/Jesus.

7. The point is clear: days & foods, as observed under the Mosaic Law, are not binding upon New Covenant people. The shadow has passed, the reality has come. So for the Christian, all foods are pure, and all days belong to God.

8. Christians are therefore free to keep a kosher diet or to observe the sabbath if they please, but eating kosher or sabbath observance doesn’t make them any closer to God, and they cannot judge another brother or sister who does not observe such laws.

II. Non-Christian Mysticism Vs. 18, 19

A. What They Were Involved With

1. False Humility

a. When a person is involved in “spiritual self improvement”, and perceived improvement has to be traced back to them they are proud.

b. Unless the person is arrogantly proud, they will feign humility, but be thinking that they improved themselves.

c. 2 Timothy 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power.

d. “That is to say, the heretics probably insisted that their worship of angels rather than the supreme God was an expression of humility on their part.” (Vaughn)

2. Angel Worship

a. Gnosticism supposed that a long row of angels stood between the material universe and the immaterial God. The most powerful angels were the furthest from the material. Many worshiped and sought to contact these angels.

B. What It Resulted In

1. Cheated From Your Reward V. 18

a. Because the focus wasn’t on Jesus, there was loss of spiritual reward. (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

2. Pride- vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.

a. Feigning humility; internally proud b/c of supposed greater spirituality

3. Not Holding On To Jesus V. 19

a. Believing to be more in touch w/God, they were actually losing touch.

b. John 15:5 I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.

c. Not nourished, not knit together, no spiritual growth.

d. Guzik- From whom all the body: When these strange, mystical movements arise in the church, they don’t appeal to the whole body, but only to a few “elite” Christians. This is not the cause under the Head, Jesus – He wants all the body to grow together.

III. Asceticism Vs. 21-23

Asceticism is wrong: immunity is in Christ

A. What Asceticism Is

1. Pseudo-spiritual position that revels in rules of physical self-denial. Do not ____!

2. These prohibitions increase from not handling to not even touching.

3. Asceticism arises out of guilt over sin and a desire to change.

a. A man thinks if he can emasculate himself he won’t lust.

b. Monks retreated to caves & monasteries to avoid temptation.

c. None of that changes the heart. Only Jesus can transform mind & heart.

d. Gal. 3:3 Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

B. Why It Is Not Needed V. 20

1. The old you, who could only make fleshly efforts to improve, died with Jesus

2. The Christian is filled w/God’s Spirit, who leads & empowers us to holiness.

C. Examples Of Ascetism

1. Banning what they perceive to be inappropriate media. IE, music, television, movies, books, and other literature.

2. Banning alcohol, tobacco, and sometimes, food products.

3. Strict adherence to dress and personal appearance codes.

4. Placing the outside political motives in the worship service.

5. Long-winded, often politically motivated, pastoral prayers designed to push issues and agendas on the congregation.

6. Banning freedom of expression in art, music, and other forms of entertainment

7. Using the Bible as a weapon in order to intimidate and control the congregation.

8. Establishing themselves as the only right means to salvation and, opposing any ecumenical thought. (This is also a cult tactic)

9. Use of guilt, intimidation, mind control and coercion to keep the members in line. (Another cult tactic)

10. Shunning individuals that do not adhere to the man-made doctrine of the congregation. (Another cult tactic)

11. Guilt ridden sermons designed to make the congregation submit to the authority of the Pastor.

12. Use of the theory that people should spend long hours at the church and, do work in the church in order to gain rewards in heaven.

13. Establishing a bureaucracy within the church in order to limit change or dissention.

14. Emotional, spiritual and sometimes physical abuse.

15. Isolationism and secrecy. (Another cult tactic.)

16. Insisting on one version of the Bible, and even burning other versions.

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