I. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE THINGS THAT WERE SHADOWS (vv. 16-17).
II. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE WHO HAVE PUFFY MINDS (v. 18).
III. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE TO GROW IN FAITH (v. 19).
IV. JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THE LEGALISTS, THE MYSTICS, AND THE ASCETICS WHO PROJECT THEMSELVES AS BEING CLOSER TO GOD (vv. 20-23).
It seems as we get deeper into the teachings of the apostle Paul to the Church at Colossae that we find how relevant the teaching is for Christians and local churches in our day.
People can get hung up on “Days”, “Moons”, and “Sabbaths”, as though that were the thing to gain one’s favor with God. There can also be a problem with legalism among Christians of our day. There is a growing problem of the “Mysticism” within many of our modern churches which call themselves Christians, who put as great an emphasis; or greater; on their experience as upon the Scriptures. When will Christians learn that Jesus is enough? He is all we need. There is enough of Him to go around, and at the cross where He died the ground is level.
Then, there are those who want to “Do without” to appear holy. They will fast, and let everyone know they are doing so. They will speak lowly of themselves before other people, but yet are very full of themselves; priding themselves in their “Humility”. These have not come to the place of humbling themselves before the God of Heaven and earth. They have not met this personal, merciful, loving God. When one meets God you fall on your face before Him and you are humbled by His presence and glory.
In the church at Colossae, these who were “Holy” and above others, by their own behavior; were even worshipping angels. It was the apostle John who fell down on his face before an angel, and the angel demanded that John arise, “See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” Rev. 22:9. They were or soon would be leading the church at Colossae, and Laodicea astray from the worship of God. Don’t you suppose that the reason Paul wrote to the Galations, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9) was partly for this reason.
JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE THINGS THAT WERE SHADOWS (vv. 16-17). Jesus – the One who casts the shadows. This ought to be particularly meaningful for the time of year we are in. Our annual celebration of the Nativity – the Birth of Jesus Christ – or Christmas as we have all become accustomed to calling it.
It is almost a sin in some people’s eyes if you do not send out cards. It is a sin to not buy anyone Christmas gifts. God forbid if you do not spend enough on . Whose Birthday are we celebrating?, and who gets gifts at their birthday? It is Jesus’s Birthday, and He is the one who should get the gifts. Right or wrong?
In my thinking Easter is the most meaningful, because He died and rose again, and that is how we readily remember Him. Of course, some will say, “Well He had to be born, before He could die for our sins”, and I would agree with that. Why was He born? He was born to die. Die for the sins of mankind.
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with remembering the birth of our Savior. We do need to remember, that, we do not really know what day He was born, but it is my belief that it would have been Spring or Summer, maybe closer to the day of “Passover”. My reason for believing that is that the shepherds were in the fields watching their sheep. It is not likely that they would have been out on a Winter’s evening. It makes little to no difference as long as we give Him the worship and glory in this day; that we should every other day.
Paul tells the people, “Be satisfied in Jesus – He is your sufficiency”, and “Do not let these others judge you”. The days, the feast, the moons Paul speaks of were shadows of Christ Jesus. We do not need shadows any longer. We have the very substance.
JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THOSE WHO HAVE PUFFY MINDS (v. 18). “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind…” We can see by this verse that the Gnostics who were the mystics, the “Righteous”, and “Closest to God” were really not righteous at all, were teaching lies to lead Christians away from true doctrine; especially the doctrine of Christ as God in flesh.
These “Know-It-Alls” prided themselves in their “Humility”. They made little of themselves; may have said things like, “O I am nothing”, yet exhibited great pride over their humility. It is surely a good saying, “Humility is a funny thing, when you think you have it; you don’t”. I do not remember where I first heard that, but it is true. We are not to make little of ourselves. We are to make much of our God and Savior. Look what Jesus has done for us. Think of the cross. Think of His burial. Think of His resurrection. Think of Him as who He is – our Creator. Before Him we all pail in comparison. We have no need of tearing ourselves down, but we do have need of building Him up.
I have heard Christians, both preachers and others who are speaking publicly say, “I am nothing. I do not deserve to be here”. My thoughts when I here that is, ‘No! You don’t, and I don’t either, but get on to the One you are here to talk about. He is worthy”. For some reason we spend too much time belittling ourselves, and not enough time lifting Him up. Could it be that in our ‘False humility’ we are seeking the approval of others? That was the goal of the Gnostic – mystics, and such.
Jesus is our sufficiency over puffed up minds.
JESUS IS SUFFICIENT FOR THOSE WHO DESIRE TO GROW IN FAITH (v. 19). “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God”. There is a right way to grow in faith of the Lord Jesus. It is not through mystic experiences, public self humiliation, or in ‘legalism’ which is basically the use of the law to gain salvation, or for the keeping of one’s salvation.
It is God’s calling that every Christian grow in faith, and knowledge of Him in the right way. John MacArthur writes, “We, like the Colossians, must not be intimidated by those who would make something other than knowing Christ through His Word a requirement for spiritual maturity. Christ is all sufficient, ‘seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence’ (2 Peter 1:3)”. From The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Colossians pg. 122.
JESUS IS SUFFICIENT OVER THE LEGALISTS, THE MYSTICS, AND THE ASCETICS WHO PROJECT THEMSELVES AS BEING CLOSER TO GOD (vv. 20-23). “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh”. The life of the Christian is free from the ordinances, and manmade rules that so quickly bind, and enslave those who practice them.
By the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross, all the things that were shadows of Jesus became meaningless. Jesus was/is the real thing. He is the reality of the photograph. Anyone who would honor the ordinances, laws, days, and Sabbaths over the fulfillment is floating in the wrong boat, without motor or paddle, headed over a waterfall to destruction. Those who are trusting their own experience over the truth of God’s Word is deceived, deceptive, and living toward destruction. Those who are dependent upon their own “Humility”, their asceticism, are beating themselves to death for no reason.
Jesus is sufficient – He fulfilled the Law. Jesus is sufficient – the Word of God tells us about Him, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10b). How can there be any more? Jesus is sufficient – There is no need of false piety, false humility, and depriving one’s self to gain the honor of men. Jesus is the One who deserves all the honor, glory and praise.
Just as the Gnostics tried to lord over the churches by trying to appear more ‘spiritual’ so there are those in churches today who say they have ‘spiritual’ experiences which draw many people’s attention. Who is getting the attention? He or she is usually oooohed and aaaaahed and counted as being really spiritual. Who is getting the glory?
JESUS CHRIST IS OUR SUFFICIENCY. In Him we must glory. We must count our life’s gain but loss. We count Christ everything. Quoting the nineteenth century Scottish preacher Alexander McClaren, John MacArthur writes, “Any asceticism is a great deal more to men’s taste than abandoning self. They will rather stick hooks in their backs and do the ‘swinging poojah’ than give up their sins and yield up their wills. There is only one thing that will put the collar on the neck of the animal within us and that is the power of the indwelling Christ. Ascetic religion is godless, for its practitioners essentially worship themselves. As such, we are not to be intimidated by it.” IBID.
These things, are perversions of the truth. They replace Christ with self. JESUS CHRIST – OUR SUFFICIENCY.