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5. Made Alive with Christ (Colossians 2:6-15)

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Day One Study

Read Colossians 2:1-23.

As you read, keep in mind what you have learned about the heresy affecting the Colossian church so you will recognize the instructions and solutions Paul gives to them.

  1. As you read Chapter 2, what especially interested you or brought questions to your mind?
  1. What seems to be the main idea stressed in Chapter 2?
  2. Focusing on vv. 6-15, what ideas from Colossians 1:1-2:5 are repeated or stressed in this passage (give verses)?
  3. Reread Colossians 2:6-7. In verse 6, what does Paul confirm to them first?

Focus on the Meaning: “Christ Jesus the Lord,” [v. 6] a phrase that Paul used nowhere else, counteracts three false conceptions of the Savior. These are His deity (“Christ”) that Judaism denied, His humanity (“Jesus”) that Docetists denied, and His sovereignty (“Lord”) that many varieties of false teaching denied. (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 36)

  1. As those who have received Christ Jesus as Lord, how are they to continue to live in Him by faith (verse 7)?
  2. Let’s look at these phrases more closely. See how this list matches the way Paul prayed for them to “live a life worthy of the Lord” in Colossians 1:10-12.
  • What would it mean to be rooted and built up in Christ?
  • What would it mean to be strengthened in the faith as you were taught?
  • What would it mean to be overflowing with thankfulness?
  1. Staying Healthy: Okay, now what does this really mean? Get specific. How have you been rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught? If not, keep relying on Jesus to teach you as you study Colossians. Your faith will be strengthened through Paul’s teaching.

Day Two Study

Read Colossians 2:6-15.

  1. Paul agonizes over the danger of believers being deluded or led away from God’s truth. He issues a “watch out” here so we will take notice. The danger is very real. According to verse 8, what could take the Colossians (and us) captive as conquered prey?
  2. Let’s examine this more closely. How would you recognize “hollow and deceptive philosophy?”
  3. What do you think Paul means by “human tradition?”
  4. The phrase “elemental spiritual forces of this world” is a curious one. Read the “Focus on the Meaning” below.

Focus on the Meaning: The “elemental spiritual forces of this world” are basic elements of religion undergirded by demonic forces and include anything that leads you to believe you can do without God. These spiritual strategies are the same used by Satan with Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3: “Did God really say…? (v. 1)”, “You will not surely die” (v. 4), and “You will be like God” (v. 5). This would also include bondage to “fate.” Before Christ, we are subject to those “elemental spiritual forces.” But through union with Christ, we die in relation to them and are no longer bound to obey them. (F. F. Bruce, “The Colossian Heresy, Part 3 of Colossian Problems,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 141, July-September 1984:196, 204-205).

Give some examples of philosophies and current trends of thought that are likely influenced by “elementary spiritual forces of this world.”

  1. Staying Healthy: Paul was extremely concerned about the heresy (anything that is not according to what the Word of God teaches) that was infiltrating the churches.
  • What kind of “hollow and deceptive” input into your thoughts are you receiving now or have received in the past that could still be affecting you? Ask yourself about any teaching or influence you have accepted: Where does Jesus fit into their thinking, their philosophy? Ask someone to pray specifically for you to be released from anything that is taking you “captive.”
  • How can gratefulness protect you from being deceived (1:11; 2:7)? How does ungratefulness make you vulnerable to deception?

Scriptural Insight: True Christian philosophy “take[s] captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Philosophy is the love of wisdom, but if one loves wisdom that is not Christ, he loves an empty idol. Such a one will be “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth (2 Tim. 3:7).” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 677)

  1. Focus on Colossians 2:9-15. Let’s get a grasp of the facts:
  • In whom does all the fullness of Deity dwell in bodily form?
  • What have you been given in Christ?
  • Who is the head over every power and authority?
  • Where else has Paul emphasized this in Colossians?
  • Why?
  1. Circumcision in the Old Testament referred to the physical cutting away of the flesh as a sign of being part of the Jew’s covenant with God, a symbol of faith. According to the following verses, what does circumcision mean in the New Testament?
  • Colossians 2:11 —
  • Romans 2:28-29 —
  • Philippians 3:2-3 —

Summary:

  1. What does Paul mean by being “buried with Him in baptism?” See also Romans 6:3-5.
  2. What parallels are there between circumcision and baptism?
  3. Name everything that God has done for us according to Colossians 2:13-15?
  4. Deeper Discoveries (optional): What does “dead in your sins” mean? See James 4:17 and Ephesians 2:1-10. Can we save ourselves? See James 2:10 and Galatians 3:10.
  5. Since Jesus’ death was in the past while we live subsequent to that event, how many of our sins were forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross (verse 13)?
  6. What was the “code” that was against us and has now been canceled? Look at other translations of this verse and cross references to derive your answer.
  7. Colossians 2:15 is a curious verse. Reflect on the following quotes then respond below.

Scriptural Insight: The disarming of the angelic “rulers and authorities” probably refers to Christ’s defeat of Satan and his evil angelic (demonic) powers by His death and resurrection…The “public display” probably refers to Jesus’ disgracing of the powers of evil when He died on the cross, by bearing the sin that was their claim and hold on human beings. Christ “triumphed over” Satan’s hosts (“them”) at the cross (see 2 Cor. 2:14-16). (Constables Notes on Colossians, p. 43)

Jesus, in His own interest (and in the interest of His people) disarmed the principalities and powers, depriving them of their strength…Jesus, by the victory of the cross, turned the tables on His spiritual assailants; their powerlessness, not His, was publicly exposed…Christ has shown Himself to be their Master, and those who are united to Him by faith need have no fear of them. (F. F. Bruce, “Christ as Conqueror and Reconciler, Part 4 of Colossian Problems,” Bibliotheca Sacra 141, January-March 1984: 298-299)

Response:

  1. Staying Healthy: In Jesus, we have been made complete (Greek = pleroo which means “to fill” or “be made full”) through identification with Christ.
  • How have you been “brought to fullness” or made “full” in Him (Jesus)? Give verses from chapters 1 and 2.
  • Are you still searching for more? Why?

Day Three Study: TRUTH—the Prescription for Healthy Living

Dwell in Truth You Can Know

  1. Review the Colossians passage we studied in this lesson. List the truths about God and His relationship to us that we can KNOW.

Humbly Accept the “I Don’t Know or Understand”

  1. Make note of anything in the Colossians passage we studied in this lesson that you do not understand at this time.

Discern Teaching through the Complete Revelation of God’s Word

  1. Evaluate something you have read or heard in light of the TRUTH you are learning—books, social media, billboards—things that sound nice and comfy but may actually lead to or be based upon error in biblical thinking. Does anything come to mind that fits with today’s lesson? Discern truth from error using the following process.
  • Step #1: Define the terms and issues involved.
  • Step #2: Ask questions and support your answers with Scripture, looking for truth you can know and what you can’t know.
  • Step #3: Think of a graceful response to someone holding to that type of thinking.

Read “What Takes Women Captive?” after this lesson for additional insight and application. Reflect at the end on what you read.

What Takes Women “Captive?” (Message on Colossians 2:8)

It was July 1993. We were in Westcliffe, CO conducting summer camps for Wilderness Encounter Programs, our wilderness-based camp ministry. A group of ~30 was renting our facility the next week. It was a regional youth camp for a Colorado-based church. I was in charge of providing meals. Ron would be gone for the week.

So, the meals were planned and shopping was done. As Ron was about to leave, he commented, “By the way, we have just been informed that there are 6-10 vegetarians coming. Hope this doesn’t cause too much trouble.” (Great! Sloppy Joes were planned for the first meal.)

He also said this group is not your “typical church youth group.” (Great! Our senior staff members were on 21-day backpacking trips in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The only ones left on site were basically women & children!) A quick prayer went up, “Lord, please help us!”

Ron left. The group came. They looked like typical high school kids and adults but were very different from the usual youth groups that came to our camp. We smiled, welcomed them, and fed them. During that week, we watched as they tried to find God in inanimate things such as staring at a candle for an hour and chanting with Native American medicine men in order to get in tune with the Great Father and Mother Earth. We watched as they meditated upon the god being created in each of them and listened as they openly discussed their gender identities. We listened to the blasphemy that was being taught, and we prayed for spiritual protection and guidance.

That week, we served “prisoners,” people who had been taken captive. They were taken captive by the philosophy that God is an impersonal energy field, an “IT”—something that binds the universe together. They were taken captive by the concept that good and bad are relative. Since each person is part of the god-force of the universe, each one determines what is good or bad. The message portrayed was this: salvation comes through uniting one’s personal spiritual energy with the other-god-energy of the universe.

Sadly, most of them were females—either as teenage girls or as adult counselors. The main leader was a woman, hardened by her interaction with the world. Most had experienced some contact with legalistic Christianity in their lives, found it to be wanting, and rejected it as being insufficient to meet their needs. How did they get in such sad shape?

What opens us up to such captivity? Are women particularly susceptible? If so, why? What takes us captive as women?

The church leaders at Colosse were dealing with this same issue. Some members of their congregation were being taken captive by false teaching. Paul responded with the strongest statement of the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ found in the entire New Testament.

Let Christ Alone Take You Captive

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

Let’s unpack this verse.

  • Taken captive = as a slave, conquered prey, no longer free.
  • Hollow = empty, like a hollow chocolate rabbit that crumbles easily.
  • Deceptive = cannot deliver what it promises, trickery, fraud.
  • Philosophy = the love and pursuit of wisdom. This is not condemning knowledge and wisdom, but the foolish stuff.
  • Based upon human tradition = Traditions may be good or bad. The phrase is used here to mean harmful, worthless traditions. What is the qualifying test? Anything that dethrones Christ and puts us into bondage again.
  • Basic principles of this world = elemental, ABCs of the world system and philosophies under the influence of Satan and his demons. This would include anything that leads you to believe you can do without God. Before Christ, we are subject to those “elemental forces,” but through union with Christ, we die in relation to them and are no longer bound to obey them. But in Ephesians 6:11-12, Paul warns us that our struggle is against demonic forces which cause us to focus on the material and the external rather than on Christ. Examples: astrology, psychic hotline, superstitions and fear, and an obsession with angels or supernatural experiences.
  • Rather than on Christ = principles embodied and taught by Christ. Christ is the yardstick by which to measure philosophy and all phases of human knowledge. Ask: Where does Jesus fit into their thinking, their philosophy?

Are women particularly susceptible to being taken captive? Remember who was deceived first in the Garden of Eden? Eve. Yet she was deceived for the same reasons all of us are, both men and women—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. I don’t believe women have the corner on the market for being deceived, but I do believe we are particularly susceptible to deception because of our emotional makeup.

Why Are Women Easily Taken Captive?

What makes us easy prey for being taken captive? The Bible addresses this for us as well:

“But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

That list describing people with a lot of influence is scary, isn’t it? Let’s look more closely at them and their way of gaining influence over women.

  • False teachers having a form of godliness but denying its power. Making a pretense of being religious (looking good on the outside) but denying the source of true spiritual “power” (God’s Word and reliance on God’s Spirit), even claiming to be Christians. These deceivers…
  • Worm their way into homes. Another translation says, “Creep into,” like slimy, creepy-crawly creatures. Stealthy. What or who leaves the door open?
  • Gain control. That phrase literally means, “take captive.” How does that happen?
  • Over gullible women. That’s an interesting phrase. A lot of us are pretty strong-willed. Just ask my husband. The Greek word Paul used here means, “little women.” This word is used only here in the New Testament, and it is not a flattering word. One commentary suggests it refers to society ladies who are restless for something new. Never satisfied. Being dissatisfied makes women vulnerable and gullible.

The idea here is that of undisciplined, unsatisfied, and therefore unstable women who are:

  1. Loaded down with sins. “Guilt-ridden.”
  2. Swayed by all kinds of evil desires. "Fed by various lusts."
  3. Always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. “Constantly searching.”

Out of a so-called “openness to learn,” they evidently embraced as a fad whatever new heresy came along. Their problem was that they could not recognize the truth when they saw it. This is a sad picture painted here of hypnotized women powerless to cut through the fog of words and, though always learning scraps of things, never coming into “the full knowledge of the truth of Christ.” The result is that these women become victims of false teachers. Historically, many cults have led women into licentiousness under the guise of religion or liberty; cult leaders often have their own “harems.”

Many present-day cults were started by women. The New Age movement is saturated with prominent women as is goddess worship and modern mysticism.

What Takes Us Captive?

Being weighed down with guilt feeds our vulnerability

Why are we so easily weighed down with guilt? Perhaps it stems from not being able to measure up to other’s expectations of us or our own expectations of ourselves. We feel insufficient in many areas of our lives—beauty, family expectations, societal expectations, and others.

Beauty is defined by the movie and television industry as well as the published media. Only those who measure 38-26-36 with little or no cellulite on the upper thighs can qualify. But, it’s a fact of life that aging brings on wrinkles and gray hair and rearranged centers of gravity. The culture gets us confused about what true beauty is. We see on the screen what the men are swooning over, and then look in the mirror and see that we don’t measure up.

Sometimes within our families, parents will hold up role models to emulate by what they do, not by who/what they are. Character is more important than achievements or career. But, it is not communicated that way. So, we feel we can never measure up to “that person” being touted by a parent.

The same thing happens with the subject of education and career. The cultural message sometimes seems to be that only by having a college degree and resultant career can you have value. Or, you must contribute financially to the household to be of value. Or, the opposite view that a woman must stay at home to be of value. Either way, we may feel guilt-ridden for not being the perfect woman, wife or mom.

We can also carry guilt for past mistakes done by us or for harbored anger and resentment against those who have injured us. Unresolved anger turns into self-pity then depression and despair. Not good for us! The resulting attitudes can be, “I can’t measure up, therefore I am not worthy. My life is meaningless. I should end it. Everyone would be much happier.” You have just been captured as a prisoner of guilt.

Feasting on various lusts increases our discontentment.

Allowing ourselves to feast on our lusts only increases our discontentment. Women have a desire to be loved and give love. In order to meet that need, the lure of sexual immorality may be strong. Give in, and you’ll be guilt-ridden unless you deal with it biblically.

Then, there is the whole desire to be married and have children. What if that right man has not come along? What if your body doesn’t cooperate to give you children? You may feel trapped because you feel you have been dealt some bad cards.

What if you have this drive to have it all, the Superwoman philosophy—husband, children, prominent career, and a home cooked meal on the table every night at 7:00? The house is always clean. Everything matches. Perfectionism. A drive to have absolute control over your environment usually makes everyone around you unhappy. You never allow yourself to feel contentment.

Paul addresses contentment in his first letter to Timothy.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge the men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs…Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is uncertain but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (selected from 1 Tim 6:1-19)

Touching but never grasping the full truth

You may be exposed to truth, but you are not taking what you learn and applying it to your life. But being exposed to truth is only half the issue. You have to hold vigorously to it so you won’t be taken captive.

The best approach is to discern what you read and hear by comparing it with the complete revelation of God’s Word (the whole Bible). You can’t extract pieces of it (that is, a verse or group of verses) and build your foundation on that. Nor should you build your faith on experiences and feelings. There’s junk out there about God and “what He thinks” so it’s important to really get to know the God of the Bible and how to live your life in Christ truthfully. The Holy Spirit uses the Scripture you read and study to teach you about your God so you can know truth and dwell in that truth. Dangerous teaching comes from picking and choosing what you consider to be “truth.” All false teachers through the centuries have taken advantage of people who were not dwelling in the truth portrayed in the whole Bible.

Practice Taking Every Thought Captive to Christ

Here’s a process to help you take captive any error in thinking and replace it with truth that is obedient to Christ. Practice these:

  1. Pass everything you believe through the grid of God’s Word. Does it line up with Scriptural truth?
  2. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to discern God-pleasing thoughts from thoughts that grieve His heart. Practice taking the wrong thoughts captive and replace them with truth from the Bible.
  3. Question your emotions to see if they are based on truth or lies. As you practice taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ, then your emotions will be based on truth.
  4. Recognize that error in thinking affects your behavior & relationships. As you practice taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ, you will be transformed by the Spirit into a godly woman reflecting Christ well.

Let Christ Alone Take You Captive

Hang onto this: your faith is based upon fact rather than feeling. Cling to the facts. Jesus said that we would know the truth and that the TRUTH sets us free. You will discern truth from error. You will not be in bondage. You will not be taken captive.

“Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

The answer is this: recognize who you would be without Christ, who you are now and what you have in Christ. Then, be grateful for His love and acceptance of you just as you are. Today. And, His plan for your future. It’s good!

“Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Reflect on what you just read

© Copyright, 2018.

Related Topics: Curriculum, Women