by Pastor David Groendyk
The central verses to focus on in this chapter (and perhaps in the whole book) are the commands and exhortations from verses 6–7: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Believers must be rooted and built up in Christ. Growing in spiritual maturity is what Paul is aiming at with the Colossians, and growing in spiritual maturity is the goal for every single believer. First we receive Christ Jesus, then we live in a manner worthy of him, remaining firm in our faith and obedience, all the while relying on Christ himself for our growth and maturity.
One of the problems, however, is that there are so many competing philosophies and wisdoms and man-made religions vying for our allegiance. In order for us to be rooted and built up in Christ and not fall prey to the various distractions around us, we must be filled with Christ. Take a moment to reflect on verses 9–10. We are forever mysteriously united to Christ. That means that all of the benefits that Christ won through his life, death, and resurrection are yours! In his death, your insurmountable record of debt to God is canceled (v. 14), and sin’s power over you is broken (v. 11). In his resurrection, you have been spiritually raised to life and are filled with his divine power to live a holy life (vv. 12–13). Therefore, let us continue to fill ourselves with Christ (so to speak) by reading his Word, growing in our obedience to him, and building our relationship with him. If we remain rooted in him and built up by him, we will grow in our unity and love for one another, we will have full assurance of our salvation, and we will be filled with all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom to equip us when the competing philosophies tempt us away from Christ (vv. 2–4). What are you looking for in the Christian life? Do you need wisdom, joy, or sanctification? All of these things are part of our growth in maturity as Christians, and all of them are found in Christ alone. How do we often try to find these things in places outside of Christ?
An illustration I’ve heard used often by preachers is that the best experts in identifying counterfeit money do their job by getting to know the authentic currency as well as possible. So the analogy goes that if you want to identify a counterfeit religion, you must get to know Christ as well as you can! If you know the true thing well enough, then it will be easy to detect the fake. At various points in this chapter, Paul references false philosophies (v. 8), false worship and religions (v. 18), and false wisdoms (v. 23). The dangerous and destructive teaching creeping into the church at Colossae is some sort of bizarre mix of Greek philosophy, Jewish traditions, angel worship, and man-made asceticism. Even the scholars are puzzled. Feel free to consult the commentaries or study Bibles if you want to get into the weeds. But it will suffice to say that some people in the church claimed to have some sort of superior knowledge (even claiming to have seen visions that God had given them) that went beyond the simple gospel of Jesus Christ (v. 18). And these false teachers with superior knowledge were then trying to disqualify the genuine believers in the church for not going along with them. Hence, Paul’s urgent exhortation is to be rooted, built up, and filled with Christ at all times! We as the church must be careful to know the true gospel of Jesus Christ so well that we might not be deceived into falsely insisting upon 1) any sort of false teaching or 2) any teaching that is not central to the gospel. In what ways do you see believers falsely discrediting the faith of other believers today? How can we be sure that we are believing and holding fast to the true gospel?