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CONTINUE TO LIVE IN HIM, ROOTED AND BUILT UP IN HIM

Colossians 2:6-2:23
Key Verse: 2:6-7

In the previous lesson we learned that Christ living in me is the mystery. He is the mystery of God and in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Then our life purpose in Christ is to know him with the full assurance of complete understanding and make him known to the people our time through our preaching and life of service. Today’s passage is about how to live a Christian life. Christian life is Christ living in me and I living in him. It is a mutual relationship. This life is not a theory or an idea but a spiritual reality of those who accepted Christ as Lord. In this passage Apostle Paul says, “So then, just as you receive Christ as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him…” May we deeply learn how to live a Christian life.

First, continue to live in him (6-8). In verse 6, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him…” As we studied, Christ is the mystery of God. How amazing it is to contain the mystery of God, Christ personally. How could this happen to the Colossians? It was not through their great effort. Such a great thing happened to them when they heard the word of truth, the gospel and accepted the word by faith. In this way they received Christ Jesus as Lord, as God and King in their lives. Paul said in Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” He also said in 1 Corinthians 1:21, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through it wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” And he said in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “…as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight.” (the world constantly demands of us to live by sight.) As you have learned, Christian life is by faith from first to last (Ro 1:17). Even such a great man of God as Paul, his last word of personal confession is this, “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).

Here in Colossians Paul said “So then, just as you received Christ as Lord, continue to live in him…” For continuous Christian living, continuous faith in the word of God’s truth is vital. We remember that Jesus prayed for his disciples, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (Jn 17:17). Apostle Peter also said to those persecuted and scattered Christians in 1 Peter, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (1:23-25). And then he continued, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (2:2-3).

For our lives in this world, we live daily. Daily living is important in life. Also for our spiritual life, daily living is significant. God gave daily bread discipline to the Israelites in the desert, causing them to hunger and then feeding them with manna, for forty years. It was to teach them that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD (Dt 8:3). Through this training God wanted them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for the whole world. To continue to live in him, spiritual daily bread is critical on top of weekly bread through Sunday worship service. Jesus said in John 6:63, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” Through eating daily the bread of God’s word, we can live/walk by the Spirit daily and so continue live in him.

Paul said, “…continue to live him, rooted and built up in him.” This shows to what degree we should struggle with the words of God. After speaking to the people the parable of sower, Jesus explained about the rocky soul: In Matthew (13:21) and Mark (4:17), “But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.” In Luke (8:13), “…but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” Jesus once said to the believing Jews, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31-32). To be rooted and built up in him, we need to be rooted and built up in the words of God by holding on to them, particularly one word of God. It also means to put God’s word into practice. Jesus said in Luke 6:47, “I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” You and I need sincere and wholehearted struggle with the words of God in deep and constant meditation on God’s word so that we can live by them in repentance and obedience, so be rooted and built up in the word of God. Our thoughts and life should be rooted and built up in God’s word.

And then, “…strengthened in the faith as you were taught.” From the beginning of our life in Christ, we were taught the importance of faith. In our continuous Christian life we can be strengthened in the faith. When we lose our faith, we cannot have any strength. At each time we need the strength of faith. Whenever Abraham was discouraged, the way God helped him was to help his faith. When his disciples felt that they were powerless, Jesus said, “Have faith in God” (Mk 11:12). Here “strengthened in the faith as you were taught” is in other translations (ESV, NRSV) “…established in the faith just as you were taught.” Those who started Christian life by faith are to be established in the faith, not in achievements or in the things of the world.

Then, “and overflowing with thankfulness.” Thankfulness is essential in our Christian life. In Genesis when Eve lost thankful heart for God and his abundant blessing, she became vulnerable to Satan and finally was tempted and miserably fell. Also, the failure of the Israelites was to lose thankfulness for God’s rich blessings and then become full of complaints and bitter toward God. God’s grace in Christ Jesus is overflowing on us, as he reconciled us by his Son Christ Jesus’ blood shed on the cross and made us his enemies into his holy and dearly loved children qualified to live in the kingdom of the Son he loves. Thankfulness in all circumstances is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus (1 Thes. 5:18). As we continue to live in him, we may be moulded into thankful people.

Second, you have been given fullness in Christ (8-23). Then Paul says in verse 8, “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.” Being taken captive is the contrast to being rooted and built up in him, and hollow and deceptive philosophy, to the word of God. The world is a battle between truth and lie. This is so from the Garden of Eden. In the Garden God said to Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die” (Ge 2:16-17). But Satan who appeared in the garden personified in the form of a serpent said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Ge 3:4-5). Since then the battle between God’s truth and Satan’s lie began. Jesus said of Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lives, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jn 8:44-45). When Jesus rose again from the dead, the chief priests and the elders fabricated a lie that his disciples came during the night and stole him away, while the Roman soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb were sleeping, and let the lie be spread (Mt 28:13-14). Indeed human history has been the history of the battle between the truth and the lie, more than physical battle. In Colossians Paul clearly wrote, “the word of truth, the gospel” (1:5) and “deceptive philosophy” (2:8) The Colossians could receive Christ Jesus through the word of the truth, the gospel, and were made alive. Paul wanted the Colossians to be full of life in Christ by continually living in him rooted and built up in him. At the same time he warned them not to be captivated by deceptive and deceitful philosophy, which would make them hollow and empty and lifeless and deadened again. And Paul clearly said that the hollow and deceptive depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

After saying of the empty and deceitful philosophy, now Paul talks about fullness in Christ. In verses 9 and 10, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” In 1:19 Paul wrote, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,” and in 2:2-3, “…they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” And here 2:9, Paul said, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Paul used the (broader) expression, “all the fullness of the Deity” so that even pagans might grasp who Jesus is. He is fully God and fully divine. In Greek philosophical thought, matter was evil; spirit was good. Thus, it was unthinkable that God would ever take on a human body. Paul refutes that false teaching by emphasizing the reality of Christ’s incarnation. Jesus is not only fully God, but fully human. While on earth living in the body, he was full of love, power, righteousness, holiness, peace, joy, compassion, gentleness and humbleness, wisdom and knowledge, etc. In short he was full of grace and truth.

Then Paul wrote, “you have been given fullness in Christ...” When the Colossians received Christ Jesus as Lord, they had been given fullness in Christ. This is the meaning of receiving Christ Jesus as Lord. There is not such a thing as receiving Christ 50% of 70%, for Christ is the person. So all those who receive Christ Jesus as Lord have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. What an amazing blessing given to us! In Christ God has given us full blessing, not partial blessing. No one or no power can take away this blessing from us, unless we ourselves neglect and abandon the blessing. Because we have been given fullness in Christ, God wants us to treasure him and continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him so that we may have the full life of Christ. How great one who is rooted and built up in him will be! Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Then in verses 11-15, Paul explains how we have been given fullness in Christ. It is through the circumcision done by Christ in his death, burial and resurrection, God’s forgiveness of all our sins through the cross, and Christ’s victory over Satan by the cross. Let’s think over them one by one.

In verses 11-12, “In him you were also circumcised, in the putting of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” The idea of circumcision in the Old Testament is developed into baptism in the New Testament. Being baptized in Christ means being baptized into his death through being buried with Christ in our sinful nature and raised with him for a new life (Rom 6:3-4). So the baptism is being circumcised in the putting off the sinful nature. It is through our faith, as Paul wrote, “…having been buried with him in baptism, and raised with him through your faith in the power/working of God, who raised him from the dead.” In Colossians the word “faith” is written very meaningfully: in 1:5, “we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus,” in 1:23, “if you continue in your faith”, 2:5, “how firm your faith in Christ is”, 2:7, “strengthened/established in the faith”, and here in 2:12, “your faith in the power/working of God.” It is our belief that we were circumcised in the putting off our sinful nature when Christ Jesus was crucified into death for our sins and buried and was raised from the dead. So Paul said in Galatians 5:24, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” And Romans 6:11 says, “Count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God.” In this way we can fight against our sinful nature which is a great hindrance to continuous living and root-taking in Christ.

And in verses 13-14, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” When God made us alive, he forgave us all our sins. Here “the written code” is “the certificate of debt” in NASB or “the record of debt” in ESV. He cancelled it; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. “Nailing it to the cross” is another metaphor for forgiveness. The list of the crimes of a crucified criminal was nailed to the cross with that criminal to declare the violations he was being punished for. As for Jesus, the written notice of the charge against him fastened to the cross above his head was “THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Mt 27:37; Mk 15:26; Lk 23:38; Jn 19:19). That written charge was the replacement of the charge of all our sins, so nailing it to the cross was thus the cancellation of our sin record. In other words, through Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross, God has totally erased our certificate of indebtedness and made our forgiveness complete. For he paid it all. We need to firmly believe the complete forgiveness of our sins through the cross and live a life of repentance by faith.

And in verse 15, “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” “The powers and authorities” is “the spiritual rulers and authorities” (in NLT), or “all the spiritual tyrants in the universe” (in MSG). And “a public spectacle is “open shame” (in ESV). This is the description of Christ’s triumph over Satan through the cross. The picture is that of a victorious Roman general parading his defeated enemies through the streets of Rome. When Christ Jesus was crucified unto death, God’s plan for the salvation of mankind seemed to be frustrated in Satan’s victory. But in truth, conversely God’s redemptive plan was completed. So Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.” Satan was totally powerless and helpless being disarmed by the cross of Christ, thus Christ won the victory over Satan.

In Colossians the word “cross” is written three times meaningfully: in 1:20, “…by making peace through his blood shed on the cross”, and in 2:14, “he took it away, nailing it to the cross,” and in 2:15, “triumphing over them by the cross.” In short Christ won the victory over sin and Satan through the cross where his blood was shed. And this victory is ours in Christ Jesus.

In verses 16-23, Paul wrote concerning Jewish legalism (ceremonialism), false humility and angel worship and asceticism (stoicism) and make it a contrast to the fullness in Christ. In verse 16 and 17, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ Jesus.” When the reality comes, the shadow is not needed any longer. Christ met all the requirements of the law through his perfect life and his substitute death. Thus he fulfilled the law and so Christ is the end of the law (Ro 10:4). So we are to live by faith in him not being bound by any legalism.

In verses 18-19, “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” Those who delighted in the worship of angels thought that it was impossible for mortal human beings to approach God. To them it would be enough to see and worship angels. They seemed to be humble, but in fact they denied Jesus, who is the mediator between God and man. They were proud of what they had seen making idle notions only with no practical life. In such a life the lost connection with the Head. As for us, what is important is to keep connection with the Head and grow in the whole body and live by faith with humbleness, not by sight in unspiritual mind and false humility.

In verses 20-23, “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship (self-made/imposed religion), their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” We need to live by faith knowing that we died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, not being deceived by self-imposed worship/religion, false humility or misuse or mistreatment of our body.

Thank and praise God that we have been given fullness in Christ through Christ’s victory over sin and Satan by the cross. In his abundant grace may we keep Christ as Lord in our hearts and continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as we were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

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