Colossians 2:8-15, Matthew 15:1-9, Romans 7:4
Take a look at the New York Times Best Seller list. Read the headlines on the magazine covers at the grocery store. Even look at the book titles of many of today’s best-selling Christian personalities. What do you see? People offering the secrets to a better life. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). This desire in us to crack the code to a better life has been on our minds since the fall of man. We are drawn to the false promises like moths to a flame.
In Colossians 2, Paul writes to the church about some false teachers who have begun to deceive many new Christians through empty lies based on human traditions. The fact that Paul doesn’t give us more specifics about their teaching here is, I believe, part of the wisdom of God. We have to infer the false teaching based on the truth Paul offers as its substitute.
What does Paul tell us? He says we need not try to find life in empty things because we have already been given life in Christ, in whom all the fullness of God dwells (Colossians 1:19). What sort of life have we been given? It is the kind of life where we have been filled with the Spirit of God (Colossians 2:9-10). It is the kind of life where we are joined to Christ in a covenantal bond (Colossians 2:11). It is the kind of life where we have been buried with Him in baptism and have been raised to newness of life by the power of God who also raised Christ (Colossians 2:12).
It is the kind of life where, though we were once dead in our sins, we have now been made alive. It is the kind of life where we are forgiven of our sins, where the debt we owed because of our transgressions has been paid in full; the notice of the cancelled debt has been nailed to the cross and we bear it no more (Colossians 2:13-14). The cross of Christ marks a decisive triumph over the power of the devil, and what follows that victory is a triumphal parade celebrating the security we have in Christ forever (Colossians 2:15).
Read this summary of the riches we have in Christ from Colossians 2 and ask this question: what else does your heart pine for? And why? We are just as susceptible today as Paul’s original readers to chase after the hollow promises of a better life. What resides in us that would make us want to listen to empty philosophies?
May we use the Word of God to investigate the desires of our own hearts even as we consider the magnificence of the victory of Jesus, who has given us not only a guilt-free life, but also an eternal home in His presence forever.
written by Russ Ramsey