Colossians 2B: My Chains Are Gone!
Beware- says the KJV in verse 8- a warning to be on guard. “See to it—NIV says,” that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of the world, rather than on Christ.” Did you notice how this philosophy was described? Deceptive- Hollow- Empty. Deceit is on the enemy’s most powerful weapons in leading us astray.
The false teachers known as Gnostics believed the angels and the heavenly bodies influenced our lives. Today we have those who chart their lives according to their horoscopes, the alignment of the planets. They dabble with the occult with Ouija boards and other practices.
Any Christian who engages in these practices is asking for trouble.
But the irony is why follow empty, hollow philosophies when we have the fullness of Christ. Why drink foul water from broken cisterns when you have fresh spring water flowing like a river within your own nature for we have been given the fullness of Christ. Jesus said He and the Father were one. Paul tells us the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.
What does Paul mean by bodily form? When Jesus was resurrected and when He ascended to heaven He was in a body. He was and is to this day, the God-Man. His body is a glorified body, but it is a visible body with a digestive system for he ate with the disciples.
And we through the indwelling Spirit have been given the fullness in Christ. When we got saved, we were born into the family of God. Just like you were born the first time physically, you grew into what you had been given. A baby cannot walk, talk, feed themselves, etc. They have within them all of those abilities which they will grow into. The blueprint of DNA which has been present from the time of conception has been developing everything in accordance with the blueprint’s specifications. It does it step by step in the womb of the mother, unseen until the miracle of ultrasounds enabled us to watch the seed grow over a nine month period being fed through the umbilical cord. Blood develops, the heart, the lungs, the brain, then nerves, trillions of cells, fingernails, toe nails, hair, ears, tongue, taste buds— it is a miracle taking place, which we have come to take for granted. So is it when we are born again of the Spirit we are babes in Christ. But we have everything within us to grow up. But both physical growth and spiritual growth require nutrition and time. Nothing needed to be added to Christ because He already is the very fullness of God. We just need to grow up.
BECOMING THE WHOLE PERSON GOD INTENDED US TO BE
Paul tells us we have been buried with Christ in baptism and raised with Him through faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead.
We not only have been conformed by the world and its value system; we have to some degree been conformed by the traditions our denominations’ practices which have nothing to do with salvation. For example the word baptism has two meanings: 1. To dip, to immerse. (This could describe not only being immersed in water; it could be cloth being immersed into dye.) 2. To be identified with- is its second meaning. (For example, the Jewish nation was ‘baptized unto Moses” when it went through the Red Sea. You realize there was not water involved, for the nation of Israel walked over on dry land.) This means the nation of Israel was identified with Moses. Being immersed in water, sprinkled with water, cannot in and of itself bury you with Christ or make you alive with Him. Water baptism or sprinkling is a picture of the spiritual experience of salvation. When a person is saved, they are immediately baptized (identified with) into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12:12-13) We are also immersed into His life and His life into ours.
God makes it quite clear in His Word the only answer He has to every human need- is found in His Son Jesus, in whom the fullness of God rests. He is our Redeemer and He is our resource for everything we will ever need.
Let’s start at the beginning- B.C. – before Christ came into our lives. We had a dual problem- sins and sin. Notice the text in verse 13: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature.” I had sins I had committed, as did you. I had too many to count. I sinned because I had a sin nature. My sins had to be dealt with; but also my sin nature had to be dealt with also. The sin nature was like the factory that was manufacturing and turning out sins day after day. We needed two things: 1. forgiveness of our sins (past, present and future). 2. The sin nature which was the nature which was manufacturing the sins had to be shut down. This factory manufactured the chains of sin.
God’s dual remedy was the: BLOOD AND THE CROSS. The blood covers the sins, what we have done. The cross deals with the sinful nature- who we are. The cross was where my old nature, the sin factory was shut down as it was crucified with Christ. Remember- the second meaning of baptism is to identify with. I was baptized into Him. Paul says is succinctly in Galatians 2:20. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Our old life was cut off at the cross. The life of Christ was engrafted into me at same time.
One other thing we must notice- the blood cleanses us of our sins. The blood does not cleanse our hearts. If God is to indwell our hearts, then He must give us a new heart. “A new heart also will give you, and new Spirit I will put within you. “ (Ezk. 36:26) Remember, flesh and blood will not inherit heaven.
The ‘yet not I, but Christ,’ is the part we have trouble dealing with. It is not based on a feeling, but a fact. Our faith in this fact. God’s Word says this happened. We believe the Word of God. So therefore we can conclude based on these facts- whatever happened to Jesus at the Cross- happened to us when we believed. When He was buried, we were buried with Him. When He arose, we arose with Him; leaving behind our grave clothes and our old nature.
The power of God changed us- not the baptismal waters or the Lord’s Supper.
What we have in Colossians 2: 13-15 is the Good News of what has taken place in your life if you have been born again.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”
There are two great and wonderful things God has done for us: (1.) the removal of death within us; (2.) the removal of the written code (ordinances) which was against us.
This was done for each of us individually. He removed our inward spiritual death. We were spiritually dead in our sins and trespasses. It was not physical death. We lived and moved and exercised our wills and did as we pleased. We were not mentally dead- although some of us were killing our brain cells daily with alcohol and drugs and I believe pornography can destroy one mentally. Our consciences can become seared. The Holy Spirit was sent to convict us of sin and righteousness.
In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus told him: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in him stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3) We were all dead to spiritual truths which cannot be understood by the natural man. Only the spiritual man knows what spiritual things are, for they are spiritually discerned. Natural man has the spirit of the world, but we have been given the Spirit of God that we might understand what God has freely given us. (I Cor.2)
Notice the verdict: Light has come into the world. Each person receives light. They have the light of creation, Paul speaks of in Romans 1. “…since that which may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so man is without excuse.” The problem is not enough knowledge, proof or evidence- the problem is the suppression of truth by their wickedness. Creation declares the glory of God, night after night, day after day its speech goes forth, and they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where the voice is not heard. (Psalm 19) ‘Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God. (Romans 10) God has spoken through his creation.
The second witness mankind has is his conscience. “Indeed when Gentiles who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they have a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law since they show the requirements of the law are written on their hearts their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Romans 2) When one responds to the light, they will be given more light.
Now a man who is physically dead cannot will himself to be alive again. Neither does the spiritually dead man come to Christ, till the Spirit of God gives him the will. It can be accepted or rejected. Jesus said to the Jews- ‘you will not come to me for life.’ He said upon entering Jerusalem for the last time – how he had longed to gather them like a mother hen does her chicks- but you would not. Notice he said would not- not could not. Man is responsible for how he responds.
Before we were born again, our wills were in chains to our sinful nature. The chains were the sins which were produced by our sinful nature. We were powerless over our sins. We could not understand spiritual truths. We could come to the house of God and listen to preaching and it was boring to us in our unregenerate nature. We could read the Bible but it was nothing more than an ancient book with stilted language which could not hold our interest. We were dead in our sins.
What happened? What did God do? “God made you alive with Christ.” How, you may ask, did God do this? First of all- nothing is impossible for God. He is the creator of all life. Paul explained in the first chapter of this letter to the church at Colossae” “For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…’ As Watchman Nee writes: “ If a man can graft a branch of one tree into another,(and it lives and produces fruit) cannot God take of the life of His Son and so to speak, engraft it into us?” (The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee, pg. 97) If a skilled heart surgeon can remove the diseased heart of one person and transplant a new heart from a person who is dying and bring life through this new transplanted heart, cannot God, Creator of all things, put a new heart in us and a new spirit in us so we may obey Him out of love for what He has done? Of course He can.
God made us alive. We were born again of the Spirit. I do not fully understand why some would reject this gift. (Even though I rejected it until I was 31 years old) Jesus said it was because they loved their sins more. I do know we are responsible for our actions. I do know God is not willing that any should perish but all would come to repentance. The plan of salvation is exclusive- in that Jesus said no man comes to the Father except by me. But the plan of salvation is also all inclusive. For God so loved the world, He gave us His only Son. And He is an atonement not just for my sins, but for the sins of the world. He paid the sin debt in full. He convicts us. He offers the gift of faith. He has revealed Himself to all mankind through creation and the law written on their conscience. But we must accept His gracious offer of grace.
Now the text also tells us what else occurred at Calvary at the cross. “He cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (NIV) The KJV tells us he blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that were against us. The Ten Commandments could be called to testify against us and each one of them could say- He/she has broken me. Our consciences bear witness to us- ‘you have sinned.’ Sometimes, like David, our sins were before us night and day.
Notice first Jesus blotted out all the sins I had ever committed or would commit. He blotted them out with His blood. He paid all of my sin debts. All punishment required by the law were fulfilled. He not only cancelled the debt and paid for it in full; He took the document away. He took it as far as the east is from the west. He buried it in the deepest part of the sea where he placed a sign- “No Fishing Allowed!” He nailed it to the cross along with my old sinful nature.
God placed my old sin nature in Christ at the cross. I was crucified with Him. Buried with Him. And raised me from death with Him. He is my life.
Paul tells us what happened as a result of this miracle of God’s grace: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life has set me free from the law of sin and death.”
“My chains are gone, I have been set free, My God and Savior has ransomed me!”
Our accuser, that ancient serpent, called the devil or Satan (which means adversary) will continue to accuse us day and night. But we will overcome him with blood of the Lamb and our testimony. (Revelation 12)
Thus we read- ‘having disarmed the powers and authorities, he (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them (the devil and his demons) triumphing over them by the cross.’
Like a conquering Roman general leading his captives through the streets to show all the citizen his complete victory in a triumphant procession, Jesus did the same. When he ascended to heaven, the enemy and his army who had been the prince of the air and authority in high places were forced to see their conqueror, for the demons shudder in fear at his presence.
They were stripped of their powers, disarmed, subdued. Death had been conquered. Sins were paid in full. Sinful natures were crucified and what natural man had not been able to do- which was overcome the power of the law of sin and death had been abolished. The Law of the Spirit of Life had set us free. And if the Son sets you free- you are free indeed.
IT’S STILL THE CROSS.
“It’s still the cross, it’s still the blood of Calvary; That cleanses sins and sets the captives free. It’s still the name, the name of Jesus that has the power to save the lost; it’s still the cross. We can alter our convictions to adapt to social whims; But we cannot change the Gospel or the truth contained within. Though some say its man’s religion or ancient history; the cross of Jesus still remains the price for sin that sets us free.” (It’s Still the Cross, the Imperials)
The blood washed away my sins. The blood cannot wash away my old nature. My old nature needs to Cross to crucify it. Blood deals with the sins. The Cross deals with the sinner.
Paul describes what has transpired. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code with its regulation that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
I HAVE CHOSEN AN UNUSUAL ATTRIBUTE OF GOD FOR THIS LESSON: GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF ALL LIFE.
Genesis tells us this and Paul simply repeats it for emphasis in Colossians 1.
He is also referred to as the ‘author and perfector of our faith.’ So the meaning of life comes from the author of life. The Bible is the script of God’s story. From the very beginning of life as soon as God had completed his creative work and given Adam- Eve with plans on how to multiply and fill the earth. Satan entered the story and wanted to alter the tale. He question who was the ‘author’? Has God really spoken? This is the main target of his deceitful philosophy.
The Bible tells the story. And in understanding and believing the story, we understand our lives have a role and a part in the larger plot.
When one comes to understand the story of God’s plan and purpose born out of his Holy and Pure Character; out of His infinite wisdom and power- we realize without God – there is not story and life makes no sense. Then man determines what is right and what is wrong because they doubt God has spoken. The centerpiece of God’s story is love.
Because the world will not believe God has spoken through the Holy Bible and His Son Jesus- they refuse the one commandment, the one law which has plunged us into all of the trouble. Look at all the laws we have and keep adding and keep changing in order to please natural man.
God, by contrast, reduced it to one law with two parts: Love the Lord Thy God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.”
By questioning that God has spoken- we have thrown out the one law which if obeyed would have brought lasting peace to the world. Instead, man continues to write laws which replace other laws as we alter our convictions to adapt to social whims.