Monday, August 4, 2008

Colossians 2:8-12

Day 10

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Paul makes a stark contrast in how we must walk by comparing captivity to freedom in Christ. The mind is the battleground where the world and its tainted influence face off against the new creation we are in Christ. What does the world have to offer? According to Paul, it offers philosophy and empty deception, according to its elementary principles and the tradition of men.

Unfortunately, the elementary principles of the world, the assumptions the world has and works from, are faulty at best. A living God is explained away and denied. Or even if God is somehow recognized, He is portrayed as either an inept fool or indifferent to people. Any idea that starts with one of these premises will not end well.

So Paul urges his readers to live according to the freedom Christ has given us instead. Look at the first three words of today’s passage. See to it. This is a command and acknowledges that it will take effort on our part to keep from becoming captive. We are not helpless-- Paul is asking that we be proactive!

What freedoms can we walk by-- in contrast to the captivity the world offers?

1. We have freedom from inadequacy. You have been made complete in Him. The world tells you that you are not smart enough, good looking enough, or talented enough. God says we are complete in Him. He has put resurrection power at our disposal. We have everything we need to walk worthy of the Lord: “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

2. We have freedom from the flesh. Romans 6 delves into this idea. We were once slaves to sin. We walked around in the darkness and had no power over the sin which ruled us. “Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). Circumcision was an outward sign in the Old Testament to identify oneself with the God of Israel. Yet God wanted more from His people. He wanted them to circumcise their hearts (Deuteronomy 10:16). It wasn’t about outward standards. It was about a heart change.

Jesus provided this with His crucifixion. Paul told the Galatians: “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” (Galatians 2:20) Jesus “circumcised” or marked us as His.

3. We have freedom from condemnation. You were also raised up with Him. Once damned to the consequences of our human condition and our own deadly choices, we now live in the light, the land of the living. Rather than face punishment, we have been made heirs with Christ and look forward to a share of His inheritance.

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So how do we avoid the captivity the world is pushing on us with its empty philosophies and faulty assumptions? We identify with Christ, who has already saved us. We may have to live in the world, as lights reflecting the presence of God within us, but we should never identify with what it has to offer. Our identity is in Christ alone.

The world is insidious in its philosophies and assumptions. Where has it influenced you most? What steps can you take to change its influence?

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