Lesson 6: Unhealthy Living (Colossians 2:16-23)
“Having revealed what believers have in Christ, Paul next pointed out the errors of the false teachers more specifically to help his readers identify and reject their instruction ‘Sad to say, there are many Christians who actually believe that some person, religious system, or discipline can add something to their spiritual experience. But they already have everything they ever will need in the person and work of Jesus Christ.’” (Constable’s Notes on Colossians, p. 33)
Day One Study
1. Read all of Colossians 2 to get the whole train of thought.
2. Now look specifically at verses 16-23. What is Paul’s tone in this passage? What do you observe could be happening within the church to cause Paul to write this passage?
3. What ideas are repeated here that you observed before in the previous portions of this letter?
4. Paul uses the word “therefore” to begin this passage. (So what is the “therefore” there for?) Summarize in your own words Paul’s main message to the Colossians (and to us) from the beginning of the letter to this point so you can understand his emphasis in vv. 16-23.
5. List the ways false teaching has begun to infiltrate the church of Colossae.
Scriptural Insight: Connecting verse 15 with vv. 16-17—Believers are delivered from the evil powers which inspire legalistic rules about foods and festivals. Christians are free from the Law’s legalistic requirements. The teaching that forbids this [eating of certain foods], Paul wrote, is “taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1) whom Christ has disarmed (Colossians 2:15). This liberation of believers pertains also to Sabbath observance. These former things were a “shadow” (an image cast by an object which represents its form). Once one finds Christ (who fulfilled what the Old Testament foreshadowed), that person no longer needs to follow the old shadow since he now has Christ. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 678)
6. Let’s examine this more closely.
· Define “fraud”—
· Explain how these false teachings are a “fraud” to the full, complete, and pure gospel message (TRUTH v. ERROR) as first taught to the Colossians.
Think About It: “Although the enemy cannot separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, once you are saved he delights in deceiving you so you don’t appropriate what is yours. His strategy is to convince you that whatever you need from God you don’t deserve. He wants to convince you that you shouldn’t ask Him for it or expect Him to give it to you.” (Kay Arthur, Lord, Is It Warfare?)
7. The temptation of mysticism (reliant on visions/supernatural sightings/prophecies) is affecting the Colossians. Read Galatians 1:6-9 and 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. According to these verses, is it possible for visions or angelic sightings/prophecies to be from a source other than God? Explain your answer and the importance of this distinction.
8. Discuss why Paul would say those seeking “visions” would have an unspiritual/fleshly mind and be puffed up with idle/empty notions.
9. Where should one’s spiritual growth be centered?
10. Staying Healthy: If you or someone you hear about sees a vision or an angel,
· What could be the only message proclaimed in order for it to be a true message from God? Explain your answer.
· How is this as true today as it was at the time Paul wrote to the Colossians? Examples?
Day Two Study
11. Read Colossians 2:16-23. Of what “prize” do all these false teachings deprive you? (Look carefully for your answer within all of Chapter 2.)
10. Never underestimate the impressiveness (or “oppressiveness”) of legalism (the elementary principles of the world mentioned in v. 8 and 20). Read Hebrews 10:1-8 and Romans 8:1-8. Why shouldn’t we revert back to following the religious Law to please God?
11. Explain once more and remember why no one except God/Jesus is to act as our judge.
12. Back to Colossians 2:23: what does Paul say these things (legalism, mysticism) can NEVER accomplish? Why? Now explain that in your own words.
Think About It: The emphases of these false teachers are still with us today. The first is “higher” knowledge (Gnosticism). The second is the observance of laws to win God’s love (legalism). The third is the belief that beings other than Christ must mediate between people and God (mysticism). The fourth is the practice of abstaining from things to earn merit with God (asceticism). (Constable’s Notes on Colossians, p. 36)
13. Staying Healthy: Genuine Christians can be deceived by false teaching, even teaching concerning Christ. Is there some concept that you have about God, Christ, salvation, the church or the Christian life that is not based on Scripture, but on man-made tradition or philosophy? Write it (them) down. Will you give it up and accept the truth of God’s Word alone? Ask someone to hold you accountable concerning this during this next week.
Think About It: “When we make Jesus Christ and the Christian revelation only part of a total religious system or philosophy, we cease to give Him the preeminence. When we strive for ‘spiritual perfection’ or ‘spiritual fullness’ by means of formulas, disciplines, or rituals, we go backward instead of forward. Christian believers must beware of mixing their Christian faith with such alluring things as yoga, transcendental meditation, Oriental mysticism, and the like. We must also beware of ‘deeper life’ teachers who offer a system for victory and fullness that bypasses devotion to Jesus Christ. In all things, He must have the preeminence!” (Constable’s Notes on Colossians, p. 36)
14. Deeper Discoveries (optional): Read Romans 14:1-15:7. Who is the weaker brother? Who is the stronger brother? How is each to be considered? What is the difference between ABSOLUTES (that which is stated explicitly in the Bible) and CONVICTIONS and PREFERENCES? When do you make a stand?
Jesus Christ is above all powers and authorities, in all believers, and is all we need for earth and heaven!!