Morning Bible Study
Paul has been warning the Colossians about the dangerous heretical ideas that were
beginning to enter their church. The beginning elements of what would be the
Gnostic heresy were beginning to take form. They were beginning to hear:
All matter is
evil and all spirit things are good.
There are many
gods. Yahweh is the least of them all.
Jesus was just
a ghost without a physical body.
Angelic are in
charge of everything around us.
knowledge will give you salvation.
stopped to watch a baseball game taking place at the local park. “Who’s
playing?” he asked another observer. “The Masons against the Knights of
Columbus,” he responded. “What’s the score?” “I don’t know. It’s a secret.”
and practices will save you.
Last week we ended with Paul talking about the reality of two religious
rituals: Circumcision and baptism.
The best circumcision is the work that Jesus does in helping our hearts not
to be fleshly. (Col. 2:11)
(Col. 2:12) 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.
The ritual of baptism is supposed to paint a picture of our death with
Christ (being put into the water), and our new life with Him (coming out of the
:13 And you,
being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
Paul reminds them of their life before Christ.
Our sins made
us spiritually dead, completely cut off from God.
Our hearts were consumed by our flesh, all we could think about was doing the wrong
:13 He has made
alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
forgiven – charizomai – to do
something pleasant or agreeable, to do a favor to; to grant forgiveness, to
This word is built on the word for “grace”, charis.
The root idea of charis is the idea
of a gift,
something that has been given to you.
What’s the gift involved in forgiveness?
If you have
done something to offend me, you now owe me something in order to make it
right. I now have something to hold over your head.
I say to you, “You
better give me something nice if you want to pay the debt you now owe
And if you don’t give me my payment, I might even tell
myself that I’m going to
do something to make you pay.
But if I “grace”
you, I don’t ask you to give me a payment. I give you the gift of erasing the
debt you owe me.
You don’t have to pay
me what you owe me. And I won’t hold it against you.
When God is involved in forgiveness, He is the one giving us a gift.
Jesus told a story about two people who owed a man a bunch of money …
7:42 NKJV) "And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.
Jesus said the man “graced” them. Charizomai.
We do not have the ability to pay for our sins. We can’t afford it. The
actual cost is a bit steep for us. The cost to pay our sins is hell. If that
sounds like God is charging too much for our sin, it’s only because you don’t
really understand how bad our sin is.
Yet God “graces” us. He gives us the gift of forgiveness.
We should have been the ones dying on the cross, but He dies in our place.
Hopefully we will learn this concept of “grace” so well that we will be
able to turn around and “grace” others as well. Paul uses the same word in:
4:32 NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
: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.
– cheirographon (“hand” + “writing”) –
used of a certificate of debt or bond, an “IOU”. When you sign your checks with your
signature, you are pledging to pay.
Paul uses the same idea when he writes to Philemon and promises to pay for
the debt that Onesimus owed:
1:19 NKJV) I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay.
– dogma – the rules and requirements of the law of Moses
The commandments of God are the things that as humans we’ve signed our
names to. They are the details of what we owe to God.
The Jews are obligated to the Law because that’s what Judaism is all about.
Gentiles are also obligated to the Law because we know in our hearts that
it is the standard of right and wrong (Rom. 2:14).
– hupenantios – opposed to, contrary
to, an adversary
The Law of Moses isn’t good to us. We don’t end up with a bonus from God
because of the Law. We end up owing God big time.
– exaleipho – to wipe off; to
obliterate, erase, blot out
In Paul’s day, writing materials were expensive. If you got a letter on a
nice piece of parchment made from an animal hide, you might take a knife and
scrape off the old letter and reuse the material for your own letter. A reused parchment was
called a palimpsest.
Jesus has taken all this list of obligations and scraped it clean. He’s wiped it out. He’s
obliterated it. You couldn’t read it anymore.
– airo – to raise up; carry
John the Baptist used this word to describe what Jesus would do:
1:29 NKJV) …"Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the
sin of the world!
The word is a “perfect tense”, meaning it has happened in the past and the
results continue on to the present. Jesus has taken the things that condemn us
out of the way. And they are still out of the way.
The list of debts against me has been nailed to the cross.
Your debts are not on a list in front of your face. They have been raised
up and nailed to the cross. And they remain there.
Jesus died to pay your debts.
He did a good job. When He died, He exclaimed, “It is finished”, a phrase that means “the
debt has been paid”.
I think that one of our greatest problems in our society is guilt.
We have lots of guilt.
We don’t know what to do with it.
We try to talk ourselves out of it – we tell ourselves that what we did
wasn’t all that bad.
And we still feel guilty.
Some people try to deal with their guilt by punishing themselves.
Some think that one of the causes for neurotic behavior
lies with guilt. We do bad stuff to ourselves to punish ourselves for our sins.
Do you want to live 10 years longer?
A few years back I came across an extensive global study
performed by epidemiologist Prof. Ronald Grossarth-Maticek, head of the
EU-funded Institute for Preventive Healthcare Research in Heidelberg.
He divided people into five groups of belief systems:
First severe chronic
2. Neurotic atheist
3. Churchgoers without relationship to God
4. Neurotic religious
5. Personal emotional relationship to God
Source: Dr. Eberhard Rieth in 'Der Ringbote' and 'Autonomietraining' by
Prof. Grossarth-Maticek (DeGruyter Verlag, 2002)
My point is not to say that if you come to know Christ that you’ll live
longer. My point is to say that forgiveness is good for you.
God’s way to handle guilt is forgiveness.
When we come to Christ, we are given complete forgiveness.
Some of us as Christians need to get back to experiencing the forgiveness
(1 John 1:9
NKJV) If we confess
our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from
A cloud of doubt hangs over home run king Barry Bonds. On August 7, 2007, Bonds hit number 756, the home run that
broke Hank Aaron’s record. Most of the talk about the new record, though, is
whether it really should count, because Bonds is alleged to have used steroids. Sports buffs
say if his name goes in the record book it should be accompanied by an asterisk. The asterisk,
of course, means that the record is a sort-of record, a footnoted record. The
asterisk means the record is tainted.
The asterisk idea didn’t go away. Mark Ecko, the man who bought the ball that Bonds
hit to set the record, asked baseball fans in an Internet poll what he should
do with it. The fans voted for him to brand the baseball with an asterisk and
donate it to the baseball Hall of Fame. In the summer of 2008 that’s what Ecko did.
Having an asterisk by your name is actually something we all should be able
to identify with. Scripture talks about the Book of Life, in which the names of each believer is
recorded. With all the sins we have committed in this life, you would expect
that each of us would have an asterisk by our name in this all-important Book. Tainted. Don’t
But so great is our justification in Christ, so perfect is his work on the
cross, so just is God in justifying you, that in the Book of Life there will be
no asterisk by your
name. Because of Christ’s atoning work on the cross for you, you truly belong
in the kingdom of God.
Larson, editor of PreachingToday.com; source: "Bonds' 756th HR ball lands
in Hall," USA Today (7-2-08), 1C
What do you do with all those asterisks?
You take it all to
Jesus. He’s paid for your sins. He scrapes off the asterisk. He takes the page and
nails it to the cross. And that’s where it remains.
:15 Having disarmed
principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over
them in it.
– arche – remember the “archons” of
Gnostic theology? They were angels that rule the world.
– thriambeuo – to celebrate a “triumph”
The picture is that of a Roman general who has been off fighting on foreign
soil for Rome. The General has won a great victory, taken many of the enemy
captive, and brought back much wealth for Rome. The General was honored by an official parade
known as “the Roman triumph”. The captives and all the loot would be paraded
through the streets.
Even thought the circumstance is a little different, you get a picture of
this in the old 1963 Elizabeth Taylor movie, “Cleopatra”, when Cleopatra makes her grand
entrance in Rome.
While the Gnostics taught people to worship and fear these angelic powers
that supposedly controlled the world, Paul says that Jesus has won the victory
over these powers. Jesus won the battle with Satan at the cross.
:16 So let no
one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or
There is a practical side to understanding the victory that Jesus won on
The issue is this – just what makes you acceptable to God?
For the Gnostics, they had a whole lineup of things you needed to do in
order to make it to heaven.
food or drink
- To the Gnostics, they considered starving yourself or depriving yourself necessary to becoming
freed from this evil, material existence.
Mosaic Law lists several times a year that the Jews were to appear before the
Lord and celebrate the various feasts like Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
of the Jewish laws speaks about a burnt offering that was to be made on the first of every month.
sixth commandment for the Jew
was to honor God on the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11).
:17 which are a
shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
These things like the festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths were only the shadows. There was a
person casting the shadow, the real thing, and that’s Jesus.
Real righteousness is not going to come from the shadows, but from the real
Help is not going to come from the shadows, but from the real thing.
Suppose I stand in front of the projector and cast a shadow on the screen.
If one of my sons wanted to ask me for something, wouldn’t it be a little weird if they went
up to the screen and talked to the shadow?
It is one thing if you were living in the Old Testament times and all you
had was a shadow.
But we have the real thing. Why would we be so concerned about shadows when
we have the real thing?
: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,
The word used for “cheat” pirates”.
verse 8 seemed to paint the picture of “
cheat – katabrabeuo – to decide as umpire against someone;
to cheat someone of their rightful prize or victory
umpire video. Paul
is warning the Colossians that when they get seduced into some of these
heresies, that they’re going to end up having the Umpire call them “out” and
they’ll lose the game.
humility – The word “false” isn’t
in the Greek text. It’s just the word “humility”. But you get the idea. Some
people make a big show of just how humble they are. And it’s fake. If humility
is real, nobody has to talk you in to how humble they are.
angels – this was a part of Gnosticism. If the angels are the real ones
controlling things, they thought they ought to be worshipped.
Don’t get cheated
There is one thing that will bring forgiveness.
Jesus. His death on the cross for you is all you need.
You don’t need Jesus and 25 Hail Mary’s.
You don’t need Jesus and a contribution to the church.
You just need Jesus.
I think sometimes we must not be
thinking. We make life a little too
difficult. All we need is Jesus. In Him is the fullness of God. We are complete in Him.
: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.
Would you say that it’s important to the health of a body to stay connected
to the head?
What would you
call a body that isn’t connected to the head? Dead. Wouldn’t you rather see the head in the right place?
The Colossians are running the risk of becoming disconnected to their Head.
But when a body is connected to the Head, then the rest can function. The
joints and ligaments can do their thing.
that is from God – Could it be possible that there is a “growth” or
“increase” that is not from God? Could there be a growth that’s not
healthy? We call that cancer.
Unhealthy growth comes when we do things that are not based upon our
holding fast to the Head.
Sometimes we can stray into thinking that we need gimmicks to get the
church to grow.
Sometimes we might be deceived that there are others ways to grow as a
person apart from holding on to Jesus.
Stay close to Jesus
There are always new things coming along that claim to make a person more
There are always new gimmicks being marketed to the churches on how to grow
I think that Paul would probably just point to Jesus and the work He did on
the cross and say, “There. That’s what you need to focus on”.
We want God’s work in our lives, not some gimmick.
We want God’s kind of growth in the church.
(Acts 2:47 NKJV) …And the Lord added to the church daily those who
were being saved.