Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 November 4, 2018
“Let No One…”
We continue, in our series through Colossians, with Paul’s Spirit-led refutation of the Colossian heresy. Its elements are well-stated in verse eighteen, as we shall note again later. This heresy threatens even a reasonably healthy Colossian church, and its elements would threaten us this very day. Therefore, just as we are told in Colossians 2:8, “Let no one take you captive,” so also let no one inflict the harms mentioned in today’s text upon us. May the Lord enable us to hear well this portion of His Word read and proclaimed in this place today.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Paul, led the by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the living God, opens today’s preaching portion with a command, “Let no one pass judgment on you.” Paul forbids us to let others pass judgment upon us in things dietary, such as food and drink, and in things ceremonial—including the festivals and observances here listed in the text. These things are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance is Christ. Indeed, Christ, Who is the fulfillment of the Law, abrogates these observances. There are no longer needed, for the One has come to Whom these observances and rules testify—and, since He has come, the shadows flee before Him Who is the Light of the World (John 8:12). Let no one pass judgment on you in these things.
Moreover, let no one disqualify you. The Greek word here rendered disqualify (katabrabeuo [katabrabeuw]) evokes a referee who decrees that a competitor is not worthy to receive the winner’s prize. Those who would disqualify us insist on certain additions to faith in Christ alone. The first addition is asceticism, or severe self-treatment (or self-control) of the body—for example, by subjecting it to extreme deprivations or to extreme environmental condition. The second addition is the worship of angels. Angels—being created, non-corporeal living entities—are for this reason not the proper objects of worship. Yet, apparently some at Colosse thought, erroneously, that angel worship formed an essential part of orthodox Christian worship. Paul here refutes that notion. The third addition is ecstatic visions—the seeing of things from on high, and the estimation of seeing them as normative for salvation. In other words, faith in Jesus, again, is not enough; miraculous visions must be present as well. The fourth addition is thinking according to the flesh—and pride therein. This, once again, is human reasoning divorced from the Word of God illumined and quickened to our souls. This verse is an excellent summary of the Colossian heresy—and the wise in Christ among us immediately see the danger these errors pose to our souls.
Hence, let no one detract you from holding fast to the Head—that is, Christ Himself. Jesus is our Head in two senses. First, He is our positional Head. He is our Leader and our Commander—and we are His glad subordinates. Second, He is our vital Head. We, the members (or parts) of His Body draw our life from Him—and, apart from Him, we ultimately do not have life. Because Jesus is our vital Head, His Body, the Church, holds together in Him. Moreover, the Body of Christ, rightly united to Him, grows a God-given growth according to His perfect decree.
Our final, “Let no one…,” of the day now comes: Let no one of you submit to man-made regulations. Let us not submit ourselves to non-Biblical rules concerning things edible and potable: for they perish with use, as we see in our text. Though the things inveighed against here and above appear wise—wise in promoting self-made religion, asceticism, and severity to the body—they have no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Many a moral young man, tempted to sexual immorality, has tried to flee the same by exhausting work or athletic endeavor, followed by a cold shower. This severity to the body does not curb the inclination to sin; our tempted young man needs the work of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace (Scripture, prayer, et al.) to resist the latest temptation. So also do we, whatever our temptations are. These things the Colossian heretics offer are of no value to curb the desires of our sinful natures.
Moreover, it is possible that some souls—well-meaning or otherwise—will aim to inflict the harms mentioned in today’s text upon us. They may say that, contra last week, Jesus is not enough. They may say that Jesus is not enough, for you also must display your ardor for him by inordinate mistreatment of yourself—physically or otherwise. Alternatively, they may say that Jesus is not enough, for you also must possess inordinate regard for His angelic hosts. Yet some may say still that Jesus is not enough, for you also must see and relate unusual visions from on high—and these as prima facie evidence that you are born again. Finally, others may insist that Jesus is not enough, for you also must add merely human cogitations to divinely revealed truth. If pressed some of these may say they dare not imply that Jesus is not enough. Yet at times we may infer that, from their insistence upon these other things, they believe Jesus is not enough even though they deny with their lips.
Beloved ones, let no one inflict these harms upon your souls. Jesus, once again, is enough. Let no one move you from this unshakable truth.