Colossians Devotional | Don’t Get Bullied
Colossians: Christ Above and Before All
The Glory of God Revealed in Jesus
Don’t Get Bullied
“16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” - (Colossians 2:16-17)
When Paul says “let no one pass judgment on you,” he’s really getting at “don’t let people intimidate you away from worshipping and following Jesus under the gospel...and the gospel alone.
Let’s remember that a bunch of liars were trying to intimidate the Colossian church into adding older, traditional Jewish customs to the gospel. If you don’t observe the Sabbath like the Pharisees, then you’re in sin and God’s mad at you. If you don’t celebrate the day of Pentecost (and the feasts that go with it), then you’re in trouble. If you don’t say these traditional prayers in a ritual way, Jesus’ salvation doesn’t apply to you.
It was a special form of legalism that tried to dismantle the authoritative, final power of God’s grace to justify human beings. The power of legalism gets transferred to us: we have to obey the laws, we have to engage in the customs, we have to enact the rituals...all so that our justification before God is put in our hands. We have to earn God’s approval and satisfaction, and we do it by being religiously and morally pure. It’s the only way that God will be pleased with us.
Paul says, spit that out of your mouth! You’re drinking poison. He doesn’t want religious or spiritual leaders to use their office or influence to intimidate us into adding things to the gospel. He doesn’t want us to believe that the power of salvation and justification is in our hands at all. The power isn’t in the religious act or the moral obedience--even if Jesus does command it. These things, even if they’re good, are just a shadow. The substance--the meaning and power--they belong to Jesus.
It’s Christ alone who obeys perfectly and it’s Christ alone who is religiously holy. We can’t attain that perfection at all, but his perfection is applied to us. In this way, whether we do well or not in religious and moral activity, we have God’s approval no matter what. We don’t have to live in fear that our mistakes or failures--or even our ignorance--can separate us from God. Christ keeps us connected to and approved of by God.
What modern day religious activities seem to be added to the gospel by religious people? If you don’t do such-and-such, then you’re not really a Christian. What are the “such-and-such’s” of today’s religiosity?
There are commands to be moral and engage in worship to the Lord--things we ought to and God expects us to do. If we disobey, we are in sin. With Paul’s gospel, what’s our new motivation to obey the Lord? We ought to try hard, but Christ’s motivating power doesn’t lie in intimidation. Where does your daily effort to walk in holiness come from now?