SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul begins this chapter by reminding the reader that the purpose of his letter is to encourage and unite the church.
- He continues his warnings from the previous chapter. He encourages the recipient to not be deceived by intellectual-sounding arguments and philosophies that don’t depend on Jesus. He explains that philosophies based on human tradition and thinking are opposed to God's way of thinking.
- Paul compares physical circumcision to spiritual circumcision. If you recall from previous discussions, circumcision was a requirement for all Jewish men as a sign of a relationship with God. However, Paul explains that this is no longer necessary because Jesus' death and resurrection was the final circumcision, so to speak. Jesus "cuts away" our sin and makes us spiritually alive. He cancelled the law when he triumphed on the cross. We are buried with Jesus when we are baptized.
- In verse nine Paul says that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lived in bodily form.” This means exactly what it sounds like: Jesus was fully God. But, while on earth, He was also fully human. Only God could live a perfect life, and only the sacrifice of a perfect human life can take away our sin. Jesus was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us.
- Paul then asks the Colossians why they are following the rules and laws of the world. When we give our sin to Jesus, we die with him and also to the rules of this world. He is concerned that the Colossians are getting caught up in Jewish laws and bizarre cults, such as worshipping angels instead of Jesus.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- The world teaches a philosophy that says, "whatever works for me is okay." However, the Bible says we must live our lives according to Jesus and what He taught, rather than what feels right to us, or what we've been taught, or what most people believe. People will try to tell you that Bible is an archaic book, that it's not relevant for today. These are hollow arguments. Don't give in.
- Paul writes that harsh self-discipline based on human teaching is powerless to control our behavior. Why? Well, though they seem honorable, the focus is on self and not on God, and so neglects the condition of our heart. Christianity is not about rules and self-help, but rather an intimate relationship with an eternal God who desires to give you a new heart. That love will, in turn, lead to new behavior.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What philosophies do you live by? How can you expose what principles they are based on? Paul said that he takes every thought captive and makes it obedient to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). It is vitally important that each and every Christ-follower scrutinize the philosophies they live by to make sure they are built on Jesus. An honest pursuit of Jesus and the Truth will make us wiser and more like that which we pursue.
- Is your strategy for improvement based on a self-imposed self-disciplined form of self-help? Or do you realize that you can't really help yourself, and so instead you need to turn to and rely moment-by-moment on God? Talk to God about your approach and see if maybe there's a better way.