Have you read your Bible today? Hopefully we are all spending some time in Paul’s letter to the Colossian church. And as we do so, remember that it is just as much a letter to our congregation as it is to any other church of God’s people.
JOIN THE SING-ALONG AT THE END.
Have you ever wished you could have seen and heard Jesus in person? How about the Apostle Paul? Would our faith have been stronger? Would we have been less likely to ever fail?
Let’s explore that from the other side. If you had a grandchild that you’d not seen in person, would that be hard? Paul challenges us to see both of these lessons as he begins the second chapter.
Colossians 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,  that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.
 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.
Just as Jesus really cared about all of us who would come to believe in Him and follow Him without ever seeing Him in person (read John 17 and especially verses 20-23), so Paul struggled with the knowledge that countless of his readers would need extra encouragement in the faith for not having seen. Verses 1 and 2 of this chapter ought to always remind us of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, for that concern is the very exhibit of God’s care for us.
In the concern of both Jesus and Paul, never forget the vital lesson for us: Love like Jesus did! Jesus worded it like this: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34). And all the blessings, all the real understanding and knowledge of Christ is bound up in real love. If you would be really wise, smart and knowledgeable, love like Jesus did!
Colossians 2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
All the good and positive things are found in Jesus. All the good that we can ever be, is found in letting Him live in us. And those that really are in Christ will show it by their lives!
Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.  For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;  and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;  having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,  having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Verses 8 through 14 we need to examine very carefully, for in them are essential lessons. Never let a hollow, half-truth (or, more often a no-truth-at-all), teaching of human beings supplant the reality of all truth in Christ! There are NO latter-day prophets, no hidden truths that no one but you has ever understood, no other way of salvation than that in Jesus. Peter preached that same message in Acts 4:12. We must keep preaching it today!
Verse 9 tells us where to find God. Indeed, EVERYTHING of any value is IN Christ Jesus! Nearly 100 times the words are used in the New Testament. In Him is God. In Him are all good things and blessings. In Him are His people and their salvation.
Is it any wonder then, that IN Jesus we are made complete? He is ruler and authority over all. No man has the right to overrule Him. The only people that speak for Him are His saved ones as they speak His words.
In verse 11 Paul extends the comparison of this priority by comparing it to circumcision. Under the Law of Moses, males could physically show that they belonged to God. But in Christ, ALL (male, female, slave, free, this earthly nationality or that) are to exhibit by their lives that they belong to God.
In case you were wondering what we come to be IN Christ, this passage makes it clear. The old us dies and is buried. But in this case, we are buried with Jesus in baptism. And we are, just like Jesus, raised up through faith. People often mistake getting wet with being baptized. Unless it is for the right reason, done looking to our God and Savior, it doesn’t mean a thing.
The picture of our baptism is underscored several times (like here and in Romans 6) but always to those already IN Christ. The point is NEVER to go back and try being baptized again and again to fully appreciate and understand what’s happening. No, the point is always to point us back to that incredible moment when we submitted ourselves to something of incredible power and meaning with simple faith in God.
Baptism is never portrayed in the New Testament as something we know all about and appreciate when it happens. Otherwise, there would be far more explanation of baptism to those before they were baptized in Acts. Instead, all the incredible meaning of all the change is reserved for those who have now passed out of the death in the water into life in Christ.
Just like an infant failed to see the meaning and import of his circumcision until he matured, so we only begin to appreciate all the wonder of meaning of baptism as we mature in Christ. And the ultimate gift of life comes with the removal of our sins.
In verse 14 Paul turns to some unique legal technicalities to make his point. The crushing debt and burden of sin requires some great power to remove on God’s part and some extra effort on our part to appreciate.
The certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, may well suggest that, just as the Lamb’s Book of Life (Psalm 69:28; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27) keeps record of those that belong to God, so, too, does another book record the sins that are charged against us. So how to rid that “book” of those charges?
David appreciated this lesson, too, in Psalm 51:1-2 as he describes sin with three “dirty” words: transgression = crossing the boundary or getting on the wrong side; iniquity = distortion of the soul; and sin = missing the mark. Each required a unique method to cleanse or correct: blot out = as on clay tablets; wash = scrub, high detergent for deep dirt removal; and cleanse = ceremonial purification.
Paul joins in this extra work of forgiveness by combining terms of physical destruction (tearing up) of the legal document and nailing it to the cross. You may recall that the charges against Jesus were “nailed” on the cross with Him (John 19:19-22). In a sense, the very reason for Jesus’ death on that cross was our sins. He really did die for us!
Now that Paul has gone to such lengths to show the amazing forgiveness of our sins by Jesus, so He now uses a unique analogy to display both our Christ and His triumph.
Colossians 2:15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
To appreciate what Paul is picturing here requires us to travel back in time and see what the people of Paul’s day and time saw in these words. For this illustration, Paul shifts gears from the destructive power of the cross (to sin) and now portrays the great triumph.
In times past the tradition had been for a victorious Roman general to be awarded a triumphal procession. By the time of Paul, only the emperor could celebrate a triumph. So Paul’s first point is equating Jesus with the ultimate emperor.
To be honored with a triumph required an impressive victory against a major threatening enemy of Rome. Typically, the highest leaders of the enemy were defeated, disarmed and placed in cages like circus animals to be paraded through the streets of Rome itself. During the parade, Roman citizens both cheered their conquering, victorious, Caesar and booed, derided (and even threw things at, poked and prodded) and otherwise humiliated the defeated enemy as they followed the heroes in the parade. Finally, the procession ended at the Temple where the defeated enemy would be slaughtered as an offering to the gods.
This is the picture that Paul now paints for Christians. When Jesus won the victory over sin and death, He parades in triumph publicly. He makes a public display of them; literally a bold showing of disgrace of them as His triumph!
To the Christians reading this, they understand fully how it all ends. Satan and all his powers of sin and death are the ultimate losers. They deserve nothing more than for sport to be made of them as they are led to the presence of Almighty God, there to be sacrificed, put to death before Him!
It is important that we see what Paul is saying. Jesus the Christ, through His cross and sacrificial death has set everything in motion for victory!
NEVER let anyone or anything try to steal the reality of that victory from you! Don’t become the prize for some false doctrine loser. Our God holds the real power. His redemption of us and His choosing of us as His has placed us far above any one or anything that man or devil could ever offer.
Victory is in Jesus. Victory is Jesus. And we are called to be a part of His family and His eternal Kingdom. Don’t ever settle for anything less!
—Lester P. Bagley