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Life in Christ

April 24, 2022 | In Christ Alone | Life in Christ| Colossians 2:6-12;16-23

John Cutler

Senior Pastor

wk 5- Alive in Christ

The next two weeks we will deal with the meat of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church.

Today, I’m going to give you a sentence to write down and then we are going to work through it using it as a guide to dig into this text.


This sentence summarizes what Paul says in this section to this church that he lovingly cares for, that he labors in prayer for, that he desires would recognize and reject false teachings and teachers so that they would experience the fullness of Christ that is theirs as believers.


Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV) 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Therefore in verse 6 refers us back, since these things are true, here is what it means for you.

Let’s summarize what he has said so far.

Since, you are in saints in Christ, since God has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light and delivered you from the domain of darkness and transferred you to the kingdom of his beloved Son, since in Christ you have been redeemed, forgiven of your sins, since the fullness of God dwells in him, since you have been reconciled in Christ to God, since all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ, and since all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ…

Therefore, as you received Christ, so walk in him.

The word received is not simply a mental assent to the truth of Christ, it means literally to join one’s self to something or someone. Since you have become ‘in Christ’, walk in him. Whenever you see the word walk used in the New Testament like this, it means to live your life in a particular way. It is a way to describe how you conduct yourself.

How did we receive Christ? By fully surrendering in faith, to his substitutionary atonement for our sins and his Lordship. By acknowledging that we were hopelessly and helplessly lost apart from him and that what we desperately needed more than anything else was for him to reconcile us to God through his actions on the cross.

It is singular, it is focused, it is complete. No one receives Christ any other way. Christ is not merely a part of salvation, it’s not Christ and… good works, religious obedience, or upbringing. There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. It is a gift from God, secured by faith. Your life in Chris begins when you accept the provision God made through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and it continues by depending upon that same work of grace.

Paul essentially says, since that is true, live your life in the same way. How? He summarizes the way a Christian should live by using four Greek participles.

Rooted- here is in the perfect passive tense. Perfect, in that it describes an action that has been completed in the past and does not need to be repeated. Passive, in the sense that it was done to you, or you are the recipient of the action. ‘Having been rooted’ expresses the initial experience of being connected to Christ as well as the continued result of that union.

Built up- here he uses the present passive tense, which describes an action currently taking place. ‘Being built up’. Paul switches from an agricultural metaphor to a construction one. God is not done with you. Amen. God is actively working on you, bringing you towards completion in Christ.

Established- here again is the present passive tense, expressing the goal of God’s work in building you up, to make you stable, firm in the faith. Just as you were taught- What were they taught? The gospel.

Abounding- The final word here is in the present active tense. This is your action. Literally, overflowing with thankfulness. If God has rooted me in Christ, if he is actively building me up, so that I will be established in the faith, what is left but to be overflowing with gratitude. Everything we do ought to be permeated with gratitude.

Walking in faith is trusting that I am eternally connected to Christ, that God is actively working in my life to grow me, that his purposes are that I will grow more and more in my faith, and my overall response to this truth is overwhelming gratitude.

Walking in faith is trusting that I am eternally connected to Christ, that God is actively working in my life to grow me, that his purposes are that I will grow more and more in my faith, and my overall response to this truth is overwhelming gratitude.

Paul’s concern for the Colossian believers is that they would not be deceived, and making Christ the center of their Christian life is the preventative from drifting into false teachings, which is where Paul now turns his attention.

On Guard Against Deceit

Colossians 2:8 (ESV) 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Captive- literally, the idea is to carry you away as treasure, to enslave you


By Philosophy- Used once in the NT of the theology of certain Jewish Christian ascetics, which busied itself with refined and speculative enquiries into the nature and classes of angels, into the ritual of the Mosaic law and the regulations of Jewish tradition respecting practical life.

and Empty deceit-deceit that brings nothing

Where do these things come from? Paul gives two approaches the false teachers use.

According to Human tradition- traditional laws (especially Jewish)

According to Elemental Spirits- most likely referring to angels or other spiritual beings

These things are not according to Christ- not from or a part of Christ.

These things seek to come in and move you from the foundation of Christ and into either trusting in your religious works or in trusting in your super secret spiritual knowledge.

We are going to make a small jump to verse 16 and then work back because that is where Paul digs into these two areas a little deeper. The first is human tradition.

Colossians 2:16 (ESV) 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Let no one judge- pronounce judgment over you, to separate you (the tense here is ‘stop letting anyone judge you’. That is, stop letting these false teachers convince you that you are not complete in Christ. That you need to submit to Jewish law and traditions in order to be right with God.

Food and drink- dietary restrictions

Festival- holy day, feast

New moon- festival of the new moon, a monthly observance where you were not allowed to fast or mourn.

Sabbath- festival of the sabbath, the observance of sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

This topic comes up many times in the New Testament, whether gentiles needed to first become Jewish converts before they could be right with God. Ultimately the church declared that they did not need to submit to these things, that they did not affect their standing in Christ.

Paul goes on to explain why these things are not necessary. They were the shadows of things to come.

These things that God had previously given pointed to Christ and could be discarded in light of the real thing they now possessed. This is the main thrust of the book of Hebrews, that Christ is the better version of the shadows and types of the Old Covenant. Why settle for lesser things when you have the real thing in front of you?

Why accept these lesser attachments to God when he has provided himself in Christ?

Second Paul turns to the elemental spirits.

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,

Let no one disqualify you- to decide as umpire against someone. The idea here is, quit letting people rob you of your prize. By submitting to this deception, the Colossian believers were in danger of missing out on the very thing they wanted. The progress they sought was found in Christ and every minute they wasted submitted to these other things was time not spent growing in Christ.

Insisting on asceticism- false humility

Worship of angels- religious worship of angels

When we take these two together, false humility and the worship of angels, we get how many people would rather approach the Lord. I am too sinful and unworthy to approach the Lord, so I need an intermediary being. This may sound very pious and may seem at first to be humility, but in reality it is a prideful refusal to submit to the Lord who says there is one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus.

Visions- detailed visions

Puffed up- inflated for no reason

Sensuous mind- fleshly mind, carnal mind

Paul says, they love to go into great detail about their religious experiences, but in reality they are puffing themselves up through their flesh. There is no real growth, just an increase in pride at their religious knowledge. This is a horrible combination at work here, Jewish legalism and Gnosticism, that says that the only way to experience God is to know the right methods, the right words, and the right pathways.

Furthermore, they are useless in helping you grow.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Lest we think that this is a 1st century problem, we only have to look at our own recent history to see these same principles at work. If you want to be a good baptist, don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t dance. Right?

We love to make lists, don’t we? The problem is when those lists become the standard of salvation.

Just so we are clear, it is not that those things are good and we should participate in them, it’s that refraining from doesn’t bring us any closer to God, no more than a Colossian believer could get closer to God by refraining from eating pork and not working on the Sabbath.

…refraining from (certain things) doesn’t bring us any closer to God, no more than a Colossian believer could get closer to God by refraining from eating pork and not working on the Sabbath.

So how do we stay on guard against letting lists become either our assurance or our means of experiencing the fullness of salvation?

We hold fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

This brings us to our third part of our sentence and our final observation this morning.

Holding Fast to Christ Alone

Let’s go back and pick up in verse 9.

9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

There is a lot to unpack here. Essentially, there are three truths for us to hold in order to hold fast to Christ alone. You are complete in Christ, you are accepted in Christ, and you are alive in Christ.

One- You are complete in Christ

Fullness of deity dwells bodily- all of the deity inhabits bodily

You have been filled- to cram (a net), level up (a hollow),

There is nothing of God that is separate from Christ, nothing you need apart from him and furthermore, as believers, you have been filled to the brim in Christ. You neither need anything nor lack anything to grow and mature in your relationship with God as one of his children. Christ is it.

The head of all- anything supreme, chief, prominent, master, Lord

Rule- origin and Authority- the power or rule of government

Not, you are finished, not you have arrived, but you are complete in Christ.

Listen, in the same way a seed possesses in itself everything it needs to grow into the tree it will become in the right environment, you possess, in Christ, everything you need to reach maturity if you will hold fast to Christ and him alone.

in the same way a seed possesses in itself everything it needs to grow into the tree it will become in the right environment, you possess, in Christ, everything you need to reach maturity

Two- You are accepted in Christ

This is huge. Paul brings up circumcision here which may seem a little strange at first, but remember what these false teachers were trying to teach. That you couldn’t be right with God unless you embraced Judaism. The outward sign of that profession was circumcision. This was the outward symbol that you were God’s people.

Prior to Christ tearing down the wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles, a person would have to convert to Judaism in order to be accepted to God. Now, Paul says, what the physical symbol represents is accomplished spiritually in Christ.

By the way, this idea wasn’t new with Paul, God, through the prophet Jeremiah said this.

(ESV) 4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD;remove the foreskin of your hearts,

And before then Moses said this to the people

Deuteronomy 10:16 (ESV) 6 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn

And again in Jeremiah

Jeremiah 9:25-26 (ESV) 25 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh— 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”

Paul says this in his letter to the Roman church.

Romans 2:28-29 (ESV) 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

The thing that makes you acceptable to God is not an outward act, but an inward spiritual reality. Something not possible by man, which is why Paul says it was a circumcision made without hands, putting off the body of the flesh- Paul ties this spiritual circumcision to the putting off of the sinful nature of Adam. God has accepted you to himself by Christ. There is nothing you need to do, in order to be accepted beyond accept Christ in faith by grace.

Three- You are alive in Christ

Paul then turns his attention to another outward ceremonial picture. Baptism was a ceremonial washing that indicated one was converting to Judaism, or as in the baptism of John, a picture of repenting of your sins.

Here Paul says that water baptism is an outward symbol of spiritual death, burial, and resurrection. The water is a symbol of the grave, the immersion of the believer a representation of burial, and coming out of the water, representing your ‘resurrection’ to the new life.

True baptism is a work of the Holy Spirit at regeneration, and the outward display is a profession that you are now dead to the old life and alive to God in Christ. It is a declaration that you are alive in Christ.

That is why we say, you do not have to be baptized to be saved, but it is something that saved people do.

It is the symbol Christ gave us to publicly proclaim our life in him.

If you hold fast to these three truths, you will hold fast to Christ, from whom all growth and maturity comes.


I pray that this sentence describes your life, and if it doesn’t that God wil use what you just read to move you closer towards the truth.

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