2 I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.
Freedom from Rules and New Life in Christ
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature.[c] 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. 18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels,[e] saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.
20 You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.
I can’t help but chuckle a bit at verse 1, where Paul says “…who have never met me personally.” It almost comes off as a very arrogant statement. But the heart behind what Paul means is very sound. He had a very intimate and personal encounter with Christ, and his mission and message is very clear. He is 100% sold out for Christ and in his heart probably would love it if he could tell every person personally the message he was given to share.
As we have seen in many of his writings, Paul is warning again of watching out for teaching that is contrary to Christ and his grace. His theme in this chapter seems to center on being careful we don’t get caught up in legalism to prove our faith is genuine. Although the bible is full of commands and guidelines by which to live our life, these are meant to be a by-product of our faith. In other words, we need to grasp the grace and freedom Christ has given us, and these other “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch! vs 21 will just be something we want to do. It’s the same as saying “read your bible, say your prayers, go to church Sunday, love others” these things don’t make you a Christian, but they should be a by-product of God’s grace to us.
Today, reflect on God’s grace. Let’s ask ourselves why we do read our bibles, say our prayers, go to church, love others. Are we doing this because it’s part of our Christian duty or are we doing it because we want to?
Ask the Lord to place fresh understanding of His grace today, and pray for a renewed passion for all good things that are by-products of this grace.