Tuesday, January 2nd, 2024
Scripture: Col. 2:16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day –
Col. 2:17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Teaching: Whenever we see the word “therefore” in Scripture, it should alert us to connect what came before that verse and what comes after. In verses 9-15, Paul describes what it means to be complete in Christ; now in 16-19, he explains what comes as a result of it. Paul’s argumentation is often this way, asserting a truth and then applying what its logical ends are and it is something to pay attention to when reading his epistles.
In this case, Paul has established that the Colossians are complete in Christ, therefore, they should not allow anyone to act as their judge. The Church has a long history of legalism, or the transferring of one’s own convictions as a requirement for others. In Paul’s day, there was debate over dietary restrictions with Jewish believers convincing new Christians to live under Jewish dietary laws and festival observances. Similarly, there was debate about observing the Sabbath. The Sabbath was given in the Jewish law as a picture of Christ, one of work then rest. However, that rest was always incomplete, as work resumed after the Sabbath day. What Paul is saying in verse 17 is that whether you observe a Sabbath or not, or for that matter observe any diet or festivals, does not matter to your salvation because all these things were given as a way to foreshadow Christ, who now has come. Observing these things cannot bring salvation, for that alone rests in Christ. We are made holy in God’s eyes not by what things we eat or do, but by Christ’s work.
Takeaway: The convictions that lead us to become more Christ-like are of the Holy Spirit, and we do well to obey them, gradually growing more like Christ and bearing fruit of the Spirit. But we all grow in Christ-likeness, or sanctification, at different paces. Paul says in 1 Cor. 10:23-24, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” Paul’s point here and in Col. 2:16-17 is this: obey the convictions of the Spirit, but do not impose what you have been convicted of upon someone else as a requirement of receiving or maintaining salvation. By grace through faith we have been saved and it is not our work, but Christ’s. Therefore, we are not to add our own works to other’s salvation, but instead, lead them to Christ and allow the Spirit to grow them in Christ-likeness. Lead others directly to Christ, not to the works we do in His name.