2 … be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
13 And you, who were dead … God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses … nailing it to the cross
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.
18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,
19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body … grows with a growth that is from God.
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Paul recognizes people in this church are seeking after things that are very normal things to seek after:
“riches”, and “assurance”, and “understanding”, and “knowledge”, and “treasure”
Paul also lets the church know that there are only two ways to live:
- “Of the world” or 2) “in Christ”
So, Paul writes 2 very important words for the purpose of how he is going to describe these two ways of living:
Paul’s writing to “encourage” them to live “in Christ” and it’s striking the words he uses to distinguish the 2 ways of living.
Huge, all-consuming terms are used to describe living “in Christ”:
“all the riches”, “full assurance of understanding”, “all the treasures”, “all rule and authority”, “fullness of deity dwells in the body”!!!
Now consider the words Paul uses to describe living “of the world”:
“plausible arguments”, “captive”, “empty deceit”, “elemental”, “a shadow”, “puffed up without reason”, “an appearance of wisdom”, and ultimately, “of no value”
What do I want? … What do I really, really, really want?
Do I want “riches”, and “assurance”, and “understanding”, and “knowledge”, and “treasure” ?
Of course I do!! And here’s the best part about wanting those things … Paul does not have a problem with the church (or me) wanting those things!
He even specifically says, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism … and severity to the body …”
But Paul wants me to know I already have all things “in Christ”!!
Is it a mystery of how I can have those things? Perhaps, but it’s God’s mystery.
And “God’s mystery is Christ”!
Paul uses a rather disparaging phrase twice to describe these ways of the world … “elemental spirits of the world”.
I should keep this phrase in my mind … Do I want to live “elementally”? I sure hope not. I want to grow in maturity.
Then I should also keep in mind the phrase Paul uses to describe this maturity in Christ … “growth that is from God”!
Anything else has “no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”
Thank you, God, for Your Word
Help me know I have everything I could want or need in You
Help me show and share and live this way
Help me see how wonderful this is compared to “the indulgences of the flesh”
In Jesus name