Complete (p5) – A series in Colossians

Colossians 2:16-23

  1. Substance over shadows
  • v16-17
  • Shadows lead to a person but the shadow itself is an empty thing. In the Old Testament the rules were there to point people to God and because Christ has now come these things are no longer needed.
  • What does this look like for us today? It’s easy for us to get caught up in Christian virtue signalling, we can follow along and try to show how good we are without there being anything behind our actions.
  • What might be shadows in our life? They might be good, helpful things but have become an empty shadow.
  • An alternative solution is to focus on substance rather than shadows, focus on Jesus, the real thing casting the shadow.
  • Amos 5:21
  • God doesn’t accept these empty shadows, the empty gestures. He wants us to live lives that point people to him.
  1. Don’t look for super spirituality
  • v18-19
  • Some people in the Colossae church wanted super spiritual experiences and Paul isn’t condemning spiritual experiences, but rather how they do it.
  • Today there’s still a temptation to have mediators between us and God e.g. Mary, priests, angels and we often want a quick fix.
  • What’s the solution? Go to the source, no mediators, no trick or quick fix, when we pray we go directly to Jesus and if we’re ever not sure if something is right then we have the bible to check things against.
  • John 14:6
  1. Don’t step back into slavery
  • v20-23
  • Some in the Colossae church believed that the body is the cause of their sinful temptations, so they punished their bodies and had strict rules.
  • Can be tempting to go back to these self-imposed restrictions, because having rules and clear boundaries can feel easier than having faith and wrestling with things.
  • Instead we can choose spirit over slavery, for the role of the Holy Spirit is to help us live as a followers of Christ.
  • John 14:15 and John 14:26
  • Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as someone that dwells with us all the time and the Holy Spirit will set us free, not the self-imposed rules that are supposed to deal with temptations.

Don’t choose shadows, choose substance over shadows.

Don’t seek out super spirituality, rather go to the source.

Don’t be enslaved again, choose the spirit over slavery.

All of these things that Paul warns them about have something in common, they’re each sending the message that we’re not complete without them, you need these rituals, you need these super spiritual experiences and the extra rules to control yourself. But the truth is in Christ we are complete, Christ is enough and sufficient for all our spiritual needs.

What empty shadows might we be chasing?

What unhealthy spiritual practices should we steer clear of?

What self-imposed rules and strongholds have we created?