July 3, 2022
“If you died with Messiah to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations...”
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“If you died with Messiah to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations: “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”? All these things refer to what is destroyed by being used; they are human commands and doctrines. Although they have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value against fleshly indulgence.” Colossians 2:20-23
Paul begins (what we know as) this second chapter by encouraging the Colossians to pass on his letter to the Church at Laodicea. Interestingly, the congregation at Laodicea has become synonymous with “lukewarm-ness.”
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16
From Paul’s previous letters, we know that there were groups of false apostles whom Paul called “Judaizers.” At least one of these groups came from the heart of James’ Jerusalem congregation. The Judaizers were traveling about, telling Gentiles they had to convert to Judaism before they could accept Jesus. Some theologians speculate that the Judaizers were, themselves, Gentiles who had converted to Judaism. This made their testimony all the more powerful among other Gentiles and undoubtedly prompted Paul to underscore that he was “born a Jew” in Philippians 3.
By nature, most people would rather seek a compromise than take a stand. It is the underlying reason for the emergence of the “Tea Party” movement in American politics. Taking a stand means declaring absolutes and possibly polarizing people. Our “post-modern” culture rejects the notion of absolutes, so “not offending” has become the goal.
The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, was willing to go to the extreme for his convictions. His convictions went beyond some personal preference or natural bent towards extremism. Paul believed in God, and his foundation for belief was the Bible, matched with a personal saving relationship with Jesus.
The problem with the congregation at Laodicea was that they tried balancing Paul’s “extremism” with that of the Judaizers. Their compromise garnered them Jesus-themed paganism, which wasn’t true religion at all. It overlooked certain sins, which God would never allow, and emphasized disciplines God never commanded.
Any religion worth hanging your eternal “hat” on had better be true! And if it’s true, then it should be able to be defended. If it can be defended, it must come from a list of absolutes. And if those absolutes come from anywhere other than God’s Word, they may have a reputation of wisdom. Still, they deny the power of God’s Spirit, given to all true believers, to enable them to discern the Bible’s truth, resist temptation and build His Kingdom. That’s precisely why we read His Word every day. So we can know it, live it, and share it!