What could you add to somehow complete salvation? Or, to ask it another way, what is missing from God’s work of salvation that we must contribute? Perhaps, this seems like a foolish question, at least initially, because there is nothing missing. God, the creator and sustainer of the universe has considered the work of salvation through Jesus Christ complete. On the cross, Jesus, knowing that all things were accomplished, declared with his dying breath, “It is finished” (John 19:28-30). For the repentant sinner, who has confessed with his mouth and believed in his heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, there is salvation (Romans 10:9). We bring nothing to the cross but still, Jesus graciously becomes the center of the believer’s life. We know this. And yet, isn’t it interesting how quickly human nature is enticed to grasp at new teachings that suggest otherwise? How tempting it is to think that we must somehow add something to salvation. How easily a person’s life can center on things that have the appearance of religion rather than the person of Jesus Christ.
This week we will continue our study of the book of Colossians. As you remember, the Apostle Paul likely penned this epistle from prison in the city of Ephesus. The letter is a response to a report that he had received from the faithful minister Epaphrus. It is likely that Paul had never met the believers as Colosse, yet just imagine his frustration as he was unable to personally address issues surfacing within the church. Of these issues, the most prominent seems to be the danger of false teaching. Many commentators conclude that this teaching was a strange concoction of Christianity, pagan practices and distorted Jewish thought. Through what Paul labels “empty deceit” (2:8) these young Christians were being “deluded” (v 2:4) to stray from the clear message of the Gospel and consider Old Testament legalism, pagan mystery-cults, angelic worship, and the practice of denying physical indulgence to somehow achieve greater spiritual enlightenment.
In response to this, Paul gives the church three important exhortations:
Don’t let anyone judge you with regards to the law (vv 2:16-17)
Don’t let anyone disqualify you on the basis of asceticism (vv 2:18-19)
Don’t submit to legalism (vv 2:20-23)
Today, we will examine each of these exhortations in turn. Yet, in order to do so we must consider Christ as the basis for our freedom.