Monday after the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Colossians 2:1-23 (NKJV)
1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
St. Paul gives thanks for the faith and love of the saints at Colossae (see 1:4), and mentions that they “are not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (see 1:23). Nevertheless, he warns them to “beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit.” It would seem that false teachers were insinuating that the Colossians needed some additional regulations in order to become better Christians.
There are many teachers and church groups who will give lip service to the Gospel as being good and necessary, but then they lead you to something else. Some point to charismatic gifts, and others to holy living. Some speak of additional regulations—tithing, abstinence, small groups, ancient rites, etc. Their questions raise doubts in the minds of believers.
St. Paul assures us that we have everything we need in the faith-filled reception of the Gospel of Christ. When the false teachers pointed to circumcision, St. Paul assures us saying, “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,” which is Holy Baptism! Having cut off not just some flesh, but the body of the sins of the flesh in your baptism, “you are complete in Him”! You do not lack anything at all. United with Christ in Holy Baptism, you have the “full assurance of understanding.” In Christ you have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
They did not need additional human regulations, they needed to continue in the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Dear Lord, lead me to confess my sin and trust in Your forgiveness, that I might grow with the increase that is from You. Amen.