Paul didn’t plant the church in Colossae, and didn’t know the believers personally, but he says he struggles for them, as we might struggle in prayer over those we love. Such was his concern for the early church that personal connection didn’t matter; all he was bothered about was the spiritual health of these early Christians, that they be rooted in truth.
Paul understood that, once the initial excitement of finding Christ begins to wane, there are real dangers to avoid. It’s not the blatant lies from Bible teachers we need worry about: these show up pretty easily for what they are. (Pay me £500 and I’ll make sure your prayer is answered…) Rather, it’s the subtle variations from true teaching we should watch out for, the slight twists and deviations that might deceive us.
Ultimately, Satan attacks us through our thinking and it’s our minds we must guard fiercely. We need to be absolutely sure what God has said on a subject through his word, and then reject anything and everything that doesn’t hold up to this standard. The famous Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, said on these verses, “Satan couldn’t ruin us if he did not cheat us; and he could not cheat us but by our own fault and folly.” We mustn’t fool ourselves and believe it wouldn’t happen to us, but must admit that our thinking can be ‘off’ and we can be misled. To be on guard is a wise position.
Verses 13 – 15 are some of the most important verses in the New Testament. Here we read a brilliant summary of the Gospel in its few words, but there is added emphasis. Jesus not only did away with the whole law, rendering it unnecessary, but pinned it to the cross as a defiant humiliating statement to our enemy. Triumph indeed! Perhaps we, too, should pin them somewhere as a reminder?
But, since this is so, why would anyone return to the old ways, relying on rituals and procedures for salvation? Paul admits (v.23) that these regulations have an appearance of wisdom – that deceitful twist again – but the humility they produce is not true, and they are not grounded in real repentance and reliance on Jesus. We may not argue about the same things as the church in Colossae, but we must still be careful we don’t depend on externals such as worship styles to secure our salvation.
Jesus, thank you for your complete victory on the cross. Show me if I am believing something which isn’t your truth. I only want to live for you. Amen.