This week we will study Colossians 2. There are five errors that endanger the Colossian church. The five errors are enticing words (4-7), philosophy (8-13), legality (14-17), mysticism (18-19), and asceticism (20-23). Today we will look at mysticism and asceticism. This concludes our study of Colossians 2.
5. Mysticism (18-19)
18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 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.
Verse 18: Beguile means to rob you of your prize. The heretics, if their doctrine were accepted, would rob the Colossians of their spiritual blessings. These false teachers displayed false humility and advocated a gospel of worshiping angels that is paying homage to angelic beings. They also claimed to have witnessed numerous revelations and visions.
Verse 19: “Not holding the head” reveals that the local heretics possessed no relationship with Christ: they were therefore not Christians. From Christ (the Head), then, the church (body) derives spiritual growth as it is supported and united by the various ministering believers (joints, bands) in the assembly.
6. Asceticism (20-23)
20 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, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
Verse 20: Asceticism is the religious doctrine that one can reach a higher spiritual state by rigorous self-discipline and self denial. Paul’s expression “to die” figuratively means to be free from something. That from which the Colossians had been freed is the rudiments of the world, that is, from the elementary religious teachings espousing salvation by merit and good works. Since the gospel has freed the believer from attempting to gain heaven by self-effort, he should never subject himself to such legalistic ordinances.
Verse 21: These three prohibitions are examples of the heretical teachings to which the Colossians were about to submit. They were to abstain from certain food and drinks.
Verse 22: Inasmuch as all these foods are to perish with the using, it is foolish to base one’s eternal salvation on abstinence from temporary things like food.
Verse 23: Will-worship means self imposed religion. The apostle concedes that legalism is outwardly impressive, but he denies asceticism’s ability to harness the sensual appetite of man’s sinful nature (flesh).
- IN CHRIST IS ALL WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE
- BELIEVERS WALK IN CHRIST
- BELIEVERS ARE COMPLETE IN CHRIST
- BELIEVERS SINS ARE ALL FORGIVEN
- BELIEVERS SINS WERE NAILED TO HIS CROSS
- BELIEVERS WORSHIP JESUS AND ONLY JESUS
- BELIEVERS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO MAN-MADE ORDINANCES
Paul’s message to the Colossians must be seen in today’s present context. Each of these five errors are playing out in churches all across the United States. We must confront these errors, as Paul did, through a thorough knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, what He did for us, and his triumph over Satan.
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 907 715-4001