HOLLOW OR FULL?
Dear Father, as I meditate today on the words of joy and truth in the gospel, let them change me in ways that are according to your will.
Read COLOSSIANS 2:6-15
Spiritual Fullness in Christ
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh[b] was put off when you were circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[e]
- Colossians 2:8 Or the basic principles; also in verse 20
- Colossians 2:11 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit; also in verse 13.
- Colossians 2:11 Or put off in the circumcision of
- Colossians 2:13 Some manuscripts us
- Colossians 2:15 Or them in him
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Fill thou my life, O Lord my God, / in every part with praise, / that my whole being may proclaim / thy being and thy ways.’1
The warning at the center of the passage contrasts hollow and deceptive philosophies with the fullness of Christ (v 8). Much is at stake It’s like being in a doctor’s waiting room, hoping that the doctor will diagnose and treat you, only to learn from others in the waiting room that there is no doctor – but they are willing to help with their own diagnoses. Clearly, in this church, some think they need to undergo external practices such as circumcision and obey other regulations (vs 11,13,14) and have views about the role of other cosmic powers (v 15). Human beings seem naturally predisposed to see religion as obeying rules to appease God. From our own experience we may know how easily such extras can creep in, like legalism about certain kinds of behavior and dress, but to hold such human philosophies about religion leaves you in that waiting room with no possibility of true diagnosis and liberating treatment.
That is why the fullness of Christ’s work is so strongly stressed here. Jesus is God incarnate – not some religious option open to debate alongside other possibilities (v 9). He is the sole power and authority in the cosmos and by his death he diagnoses our sin and gloriously forgives to make us new. Circumcision done by human hands is redundant, for baptism now identifies physically with Christ’s saving work at its most powerful in his burial and rising (vs 11,12). Speculations about other powers at work are laid hollow by Christ’s triumph on the cross.
Hollow philosophies can sadly take hold in a group, such as legalism placing extra human demands upon believers. Being made alive in Jesus is God’s awesome work that fills everything with meaning – you have been given fullness in Christ (v 10).
Repeat verses 6 and 7 as a prayer for today, with special emphasis on ‘overflowing with thankfulness’ for who Jesus is.
Lord Jesus, you are the way to God, the truth about God, and the life in God. You are all I need. I praise you for my new life in you.
1 Horatius Bonar, 1808–89
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