Fighting What is False with What is True - Colossians 2:8-15
The best defense is a strong offense; it’s a well known adage that has its’ roots in military strategy. The idea is that if you are expecting an attack the best way to defend yourself is to go on offensive – take the fight to the enemy.
There’s a sense in which this old adage can be applied to our faith; as believers we are open to attack. We are always under the threat of attack from doubt, unbelief, complacency and the temptations of the flesh. Perhaps the best way to defend ourselves against these attacks is to go on the offensive – to engage in fighting against those things that threaten us.
A common refrain that I first heard from Jerry Bridges is that we need to “Preach the Gospel to Ourselves Everyday.” One of the best ways to ‘go on the offensive’ is to fight our temptations by knowing and reminding ourselves of the truths and implications of the Gospel.
Paul knows that the church at Colossae is starting to be led astray by false teaching and so he is writing this letter to remind them of what is true. They are being tempted to put their trust in things other than Jesus and so he’s urging them to stay true to Christ.
In this section Paul begins with a warning about the threat of false teaching, but he doesn’t stay there long. The majority of the passage is devoted to reminding the Colossians who they are in Christ and what He has accomplished on their behalf. In a sense Paul is equipping them to go on the offensive – to fight what is false with what is true.
The Admonition: Don’t Be Taken Captive By What is False (2:8)
- Taken Captive- Paul uses a word that was commonly used for being carried off or captured during battle. He gives this admonition or warning: Watch out, see to it that you aren’t taken captive!
- The Captor- The potential captor is described as philosophy and empty deceit. What Paul is concerned about is that the Colossians are allowing themselves to be taken in, to be captured by “wisdom” that isn’t founded on truth. Instead it’s founded on human tradition and demonic systems of belief.
The Battle Plan: Remember the Position You have In Christ and What He has Accomplished on Your Behalf
- We are Complete in Him (2:9-10)- As the Colossians are being tempted to look to false sources of wisdom and knowledge Paul urges them to reflect on what is true; Paul wants them to recognize that they are filled in Christ. In Him they lack nothing! Jesus is fully God and He completely fills those who are His (Ephesians 3:17–19).
Understanding our Fullness in Christ (2:11-15)
In Him we are Fully Saved– We are Free from the Power of Sin (2:11-12)– Paul uses two metaphors to remind us of the change that Christ has made in us. By our nature we have ‘uncircumcised hearts’ and we are dead in sin, but Christ changes both of these realities (Romans 6:3-7). We are now alive in Him and our hearts have been circumcised with the circumcision of Christ.
Douglas Moo – Paul’s logic runs like this: you have been spiritually ‘circumcised.’ This circumcision took place when you were buried with Christ and raised with Him. [This is pictured in baptism].
In Him we are Fully Forgiven - We are Free from the Price and Penalty of Sin(2:13-15)
- Through Christ we are released from the record of debt that we owed for our sin (vs. 13-14)
J.B. Philip’s Translation– He has forgiven you all your sins. Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross.
- Through Christ we are free from the spiritual powers that ruled over us (vs. 15)