Stand Firm

Our Exalted Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:10
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Those in Christ cannot be blaclisted, banned or bound by the expectations of others.

There is a story that has been used throughout many years in numerous sermons to describe when traditions become useless. It is the story of a teen who asks why the ends of the ham are trimmed before going into the over. She searches back 3 generations until she finds the first person to do this simply had a ham that was too big for the pan.
Sometimes a behavior becomes a best practice and sometimes it becomes an unnecessary hurdle toward acceptance.
One behavior that became a cultural expectation was that of Footbinding. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a 2011 historical drama based on the novel of the same name written by Lisa See. This short clip demonstrates footbinding as it was practiced in Japanese culture that valued small feet.
Show clip -
Just as this practice was imposed upon many young girls who did not want it, in today’s text Paul will address those who are being compelled to follow other traditions.
The reality of coercion is one that many of us wrestle with today. When do we allow others to force us into their mold, and when does our obedience to Christ compel us to resist?
The ability to disagree with civility is a skill that many in today’s society have discarded.
One example that is getting a lot of attention on my social media this last week has been the daily wearing of cloth masks. One doesn’t have to read long to find examples on both sides who write with absolute incredulity about those who disagree with their position. People on either side jettison all civility when questioning the intelligence or attacking the character of those who disagree.
Transition: Having just detailed 3 blessings that belong to those who are in Christ, Paul now encourages those who feel intimidated by others to stand up to the pressure.

Let No One Blacklist You (Col 2:16-17)

Colossians 2:16–17 ESV:2016
16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

No Kosher Requirement (v.16)

1. The Jerusalem Counsel had already decided in Acts 15 that a person does not need to become Jewish in order to be a Christ follower.
2. Yet some pressured others to act Jewish even if they didn’t become Jewish.
3. The Jewish diet and the Jewish holy days are what is being described in this verse.
Any of us who were following Christ in the 1970’s eventually encountered a movement called the Jesus People. Those from the Woodstock generation who placed their trust in Christ often continued to wear the hair and clothing styles of their unsaved friends. This created quite a challenge for “respectable” Christians, who often took great pride in short hair and wide neckties. The patent leather pumps and heels were a noticeable contrast to the sandals and bare feet of this new movement.

Kosher was a Shadow, Christ was the Substance (v.17)

1. The reason God instituted circumcision and later gave the Mosaic restrictions was simply to remind that God calls a people to be unique and distinct unto Him.
Exodus 33:16 (ESV) — …so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
2. Meals and Sabbath did not make them holy, it made them distinct.
3. What makes the people of God distinct under the New Covenant is that because of the resurrection they are now in Christ. (see the 6 “in Christ, in Him, & with Him” of the previous paragraph)


· The problem Paul is addressing is those who thought it wasn’t enough to be “in Christ” but that they also had to “act Jewish.”
Transition: In these 2 verses Paul says, “don’t let anyone blacklist you for not acting a certain way.” In the next 2 verses he challenges them to…

Let No One Ban Your Reward (Col 2:18-19)

Colossians 2:18–19 ESV:2016
18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

No Bonus for Mysticsm

1. Asceticism (ESV), self-abasement (NASB), false humility (NIV)
a. This word is literally a 6-syllable compound word meaning to lower oneself.
b. The very same word will appear in 3:12 in a positive manner.
c. Insists/delight – I believe it is wrong emphasis that makes this trait negative. It is when a good thing becomes bad.
When the way one person worships is more pronounced than who one person worships is when a good thing becomes bad.
When the sauce you put on your meat covers the flavor of the meat, something good has become bad.
2. Worship of angels
a. This phrase can be interpreted 2 ways.
i. Angels being worshipped
ii. The way that angels worship
b. I think NT Wright is correct when he writes, “the people [Paul] is opposing spend so much time in speculations about angels…that they are in effect worshipping them instead of God.”[i]
3. Visions
a. God promised in Joel and restated in Acts that visions are not out of the picture.
b. Quoting Joel 2:28, Peter says in Acts 2:17
Acts 2:17 (ESV) — “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;”
c. Going into great detail – when a person put MORE EMPHASIS on the vision of the individual over what He has written to all, we have a problem.
4. Puffed up (ESV & NIV), inflated (NASB) by human thoughts
a. God clearly wants us to worship him with our minds.
b. Jesus said the most important commandment Mark 12:30 (ESV) —And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
c. When a man’s thoughts about God become more important than God Himself, he has crossed over a line.

A loss of clarity (v.19)

· This describes the person who forgets to keep the main thing the main thing.
This is the person who puts the Em-PHAS-is on wrong sy-LAB-le.

Application (vv.18-19)

1. If vv. 16-17 warns against the person who tries to judge you because your religion is not like his religion, vv. 18-19 is a warning against the person who tries to judge you because your experience in not like his.
2. Do not let anyone convince you that you are not in Christ simply because you haven’t had the same feeling or vision that she has experienced.
Transition: In the last 4 verses Paul moves into spiritual disciplines and matters of conscience.

Let No One Bind You (Col 2:20-23)

Colossians 2:20–23 ESV:2016
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.


1. Human precepts and teachings
a. Ascetic practices were popular during the Middle Ages: wearing hair shirts next to the skin, sleeping on hard beds, whipping oneself, not speaking for days (maybe years), going without food or sleep, etc.
b. As Christians, we admit that physical discipline is needed in our lives. Some of us eat too much and are overweight. Some of us drink too much coffee or cola drinks and are nervous and upset. We believe that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19–20), yet sometimes we do not care for our bodies as we should. “Physical training is of some value,” Paul wrote (1 Tim. 4:8) so there is a place in our Christian lives for proper care of our bodies.
c. But the ascetic hopes to sanctify the soul by his discipline of the body, and it is this heresy that Paul attacked. [ii]
2. When we elevate personal opinions to group commands, we cross a line from liberty to bondage.
3. Romans 14 gives some great advice in how we can deny ourselves certain freedom without becoming judgmental or self-righteous. If we deliberately abstain from some food or drink to keep from hurting a weaker Christian, that is one thing. But we must not say that our abstinence makes us more spiritual than another brother who partakes of that food and gives thanks to God.[iii]


1. I don’t think there could be a more applicable text to our world right now, than the verses we have studied today.
2. Neither cloth masks nor face-to-face meetings are a good measure of spirituality or faith.
3. Based upon varying understanding of how contagious or lethal this virus may be and one’s personal susceptibility, and that of our neighbors, will determine one’s behaviors. What is caution to one person can be considered fear to another. What is compliance or compassion to one person can be considered cowardice to another.
4. This is why the strategy of our Elders is a soft open. Because those who are genuinely in Christ have room to agree to disagree about matters that are things that all perish. (to use the wording of v.22)
My diabetes gives me a certain level of vulnerability to an adverse reaction to the Corona virus. I have a first cousin who has been hospitalized 3 times in the last year with COPD, an upper respiratory virus like this would all but sign his death certificate. But my condition is no reason for me to regulate your submission. (v.20)


This section closes the second chapter of Colossians in which Paul defended the preeminence of Jesus Christ, and he refuted the false doctrines of legalism, mysticism, and asceticism. It now remains for us to believe what he wrote and practice these spiritual principles.
The answer to legalism is the spiritual liberty [reality] we have in Christ. The answer to mysticism is the spiritual union with Christ, the Head of the church. The answer to asceticism is our position in Christ in death, burial, and resurrection.[iv]
[i] N. T. Wright, Colossians and Philemon: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 12, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 126–127.
[ii] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 131.
[iii] Ibid., 132.
[iv] Ibid., 132.
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