Week 6: Colossians 2:16-23
Faith in Jesus Christ transforms us. God transforms us when we first believe the message of the gospel and He continues to change us as we walk in Christ each day. Jesus is like the head of a body from which all that we need for life and vitality flows. It is our connection to him that brings transformation and growth. Spiritual practices can help us grow in Christ. But they lose their benefit and can even become dangerous distracters if we are not connected to Jesus. Religious behaviors and rituals are only shadows, pointers, or tools – not the reality themselves. Christ is the reality and in him all of these things find their meaning and power. So don’t judge based on adherence to spiritual practices. Don’t judge yourself: “I’m doing great with God because I read my bible, pray, serve, give, etc.” And don’t judge others: “You can’t be right with God because you are not doing x, y, or z.” Stay connected to the head and let him continue the transformation process from the inside out.
Have you or someone you know ever been wrongly called for a penalty or foul by a referee? Did it affect the outcome of the game?
Getting into the Text:
1. (Colossians 2:4, 2:8, 2:16, 2:18) Paul gives four different warnings to the Colossians. What is he warning them about? What is this false teaching trying to get the Colossians to believe or to do? How might we today allow others to pass judgement on us according to a distorted set of criteria? Why is that dangerous?
2. (Colossians 1:18a, 2:19) The root of the problem with the false teachers is that they are disconnected from the head. What does this mean? Describe the contrast between someone who is connected to the head and someone who is not.
3. Good spiritual practices and habits can become dangerous substitutes for a living relationship with Christ if we are not remaining connected to Jesus. How do each of the following passages illustrate a good spiritual practice failing to be effective because the person is disconnected from the head?
a. (John 5:39-40) Studying scripture
b. (Matthew 6:5-8) Praying
c. (Matthew 7:22-23) Serving others in Jesus’ name
4. (John 15:4-6) How do Jesus’ words in this passage relate to Paul’s warnings to the Colossians?
1. Are the teachings that threatened the Colossians a danger for you? Do you let others judge you (or do you judge yourself) according to how you are doing in various religious practices like having a regular quiet time, reading your bible, attending the right church, praying, giving, etc.? Take time to remember the sufficiency of what Christ has done. Allow these good habits and practices to find their meaning and value in the way they help maintain your connection to Christ. He is the real target. He is the real source of acceptance, effectiveness, and growth, not the rituals. (Colossians 2:17, 19)
2. Do you judge others by their adherence to a list you have made of what it takes to be a member of God’s family in good standing? Recognize that Christ can make others stand with confidence on judgement day just as he can make you stand. (Romans 14:3-4) It is by grace, not works that we are saved. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Believe this about your own salvation. Believe it about others too.