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                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS"

                       Believer, Beware! (2:9-23)

INTRODUCTION

1. It was Paul's desire that his brethren be "perfect (complete) in
   Christ" - Col 1:28; 2:1-3

2. But there were influences at Colosse which endangered their 
   salvation, against which Paul warns in Col 2:8-23

3. As we consider what those threats were, we see similar threats today
   as well!

4. In other words, subtle (and some not so subtle) influences which may
   promise us much, but can easily lead us away from Christ!

[For example, we notice from verses 8-10 that at Colosse there was the
danger of...]

I. PHILOSOPHIES AND TRADITIONS OF MEN (8-10)

   A. THE DANGER OF MAN-MADE PHILOSOPHY AND TRADITION...
      1. They "cheat" you
         a. They don't deliver what they may promise
         b. They can even cheat you of your salvation!
            1) By rendering our worship and service to God as "vain"
            2) As Jesus warned in Mt 15:9
      2. This they do through "empty deceit"
         a. It is not evident (otherwise, none would accept it)
         b. But like many of the workings of Satan, it is through
            "deception"

   B. WE ARE FACED WITH SIMILAR INFLUENCES TODAY...
      1. The "philosophies" of:
         a. Atheism
         b. Evolution
         c. Humanism
      2. The "traditions of men," found rampant in:
         a. Protestant denominations
         b. Catholicism (both "Roman" and "Orthodox")
         c. Various cults
      3. Though these "philosophies" and "traditions of men" may possess
         a lot of truth, it is the error in them that can lead one away
         from the pure and simple doctrine of Jesus Christ!

   C. WE NEED TO KEEP IN MIND...
      1. In "Jesus Christ" are found ALL the treasures of wisdom and
         knowledge - Col 2:3
      2. In "Jesus Christ" is to be found the FULLNESS of the Godhead
         bodily - Col 2:9
      3. In "Jesus Christ" we are COMPLETE - Col 2:10
      4. As Peter wrote in his second epistle:  "Grace and peace be
         multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our
         Lord, as His divine power has given to us ALL things that
         pertain to life and godliness , through the knowledge of Him
         who called us by glory and virtue," - 2Pe 1:2-3

[So "Believer, Beware!" when anyone suggests that we need the
philosophies or traditions of men in addition to or instead of Jesus
Christ!

In verses 11-17, Paul deals with what was a real problem in the first
century church...]

II. JUDAISTIC CEREMONIALISM (11-17)

   A. THE PROBLEM IN THE FIRST CENTURY CHURCH...
      1. Many Jewish Christians felt it necessary for Gentile Christians
         to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in ADDITION to
         following Christ - cf. Ac 15:1-5
      2. The early church had to constantly deal with this problem
         a. Which they did at Jerusalem (where the problem originated) 
            - Ac 15:6-27
         b. Which Paul did in writing Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and
            Colossians
      3. Here in Col 2:11-17, Paul deals with the problem by pointing
         out:
         a. Through baptism into Christ, we experience the "true
            circumcision", which is a cutting away of the sins of the
            flesh - Col 2:11-13
         b. By His death on the cross, Jesus has taken the Old Law out
            of the way - Col 2:14-15 (cf. Ep 2:14-16)
         c. Therefore, we are to let no one try to judge (condemn) us
            in matters of the Old Law - Col 2:16-17

   B. TODAY, THERE ARE MANY WHO STILL TRY TO BIND THE OLD LAW UPON 
       CHRISTIANS...
      1. Various denominations with their Sabbaths and food regulations
      2. Other religions with their separate priesthood and many other
         practices, based upon the Old Testament, and not the New!

   C. AS THOSE IN CHRIST...
      1. We have died to the Law and Jewish ceremonialism (this 
         especially pertains to Jewish Christians) - Ro 7:1-6
      2. We have been set free, and need to beware of becoming 
         "entangled again with a yoke of bondage." - Ga 5:1
      3. If we seek justification by our observance of things found in
         the Old Law, we are fallen from grace! - Ga 5:2-4

[So "Believer, Beware!" when people try to impose things upon you which
are based upon the Law of Moses.  Remember, "you are complete in HIM."

In verses 18-19, we see there was still another danger at Colosse...]

III. THE WORSHIP OF ANGELS (18-19)

   A. WHY WOULD PEOPLE WORSHIP ANGELS?
      1. Perhaps because they felt angels were needed as "intercessors"
      2. Perhaps with "a sense of humility", they felt they could not go
         to God (or even Jesus) directly

   B. THE PROBLEM WITH ANGEL WORSHIP...
      1. It is actually the result of a "false humility" and based upon
         one's "vain imagination"   - Col 2:18 (cf. He 4:14-16, where
         we learn we can "come boldly to the throne of grace")
      2. It actually diverts one away from Christ, the rightful "Head of
         the body" - Col 2:19
         a. For this reason, angels refused any semblance of worship -
            Re 22:8-9
         b. And so did the apostle Peter - Ac 10:25-26

   C. TODAY, SOME RELIGIONS HAVE DEVELOPED A COUNTERPART TO THE WORSHIP
      OF ANGELS...
      1. E.g., Catholicism with its veneration of Mary and the "saints"
      2. The reasoning is similar:  "humility" ("We need them to 
         intercede for us")
      3. Though an attempt is made to distinguish between "veneration"
         and "worship", in practice the distinction is lost among the
         average person
      4. And the result is still the same:  "not holding fast to the
         Head," venerating other beings rather than Christ!

[Finally, from verses 20-23 we can glean that there was the problem
of...]

IV. ASCETICISM (20-23)

   A. ASCETICISM HAS OFTEN BEEN OFFERED AS A KEY TO "SELF-CONTROL"
      1. Such as fasting and other forms of abstinence
      2. Or self-flagellation (beating one's self with whips)

   B. BUT ASCETICISM IS OF NO REAL VALUE AGAINST THE "INDULGENCE OF THE
      FLESH"
      1. As Paul points out in Col 2:23
      2. Indeed, transformation comes through "renewing the MIND", not
         afflicting the BODY
         a. As Paul wrote in Ro 12:1-2
         b. Yes, those who "set their minds on the things of the Spirit"
            are the ones "who live according to the Spirit" - Ro 8:5
            1) They are the ones who by the Spirit will be able to "put
               to death the deeds of the body" - Ro 8:13
            2) For the "fruit of the Spirit" includes self-control - Ga
               5:22-23

   C. TODAY, WE MUST BEWARE OF THE FALSE CLAIMS OF ASCETICISM!
      1. Fasting may have a place in the lives of Christians - cf. Ac
         13:2-3; 14:23; 1Co 7:5; 2Co 11:27
         a. But not for the purpose of developing self-control!
         b. Rather as a means of humbling oneself before God as we pray,
            that God might hear our prayer - cf. Ezr 8:21; Mt 6:17-18
      2. Those religions that would teach various forms of "asceticism"
         as a means of developing spiritual maturity would have us
         believe that "the secret" is in such "neglect of the body" 
      3. But Christ is "the secret", and by holding fast to Him we find
         the ability to "crucify the flesh with its passions and 
         desires." - Ga 5:24

CONCLUSION

1. As we live the Christian life, attempting to mature spiritually,
   beware of any doctrine or teaching of man that suggests we need more
   than Jesus Christ!

2. Remember, He is "THE" way (not "A" way) - Jn 14:6

3. And we are COMPLETE in Him!

Are you IN Him?  - cf. Ga 3:26-27...
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