The Christ Of Christmas Past, Present & Future: Colossians Series #14
The Apostle Paul was a masterful writer, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In his writings, he describes how we have now entered into a transition from the Sufficiency of Christ to the deficiency of cults.
In Colossians 2:3, we read, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Then, in verse 4, we read, “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” He is moving from Sufficiency to deficiency.
The best way for us to be prepared and not deceived by that which is false is to be very well grounded in that which is true. The same Jesus Christ who is the creator of the universe and who died on the cross for our sins, lives in our hearts as born-again believers. In Jesus Christ, there is total sufficiency for your life. All of its challenges and opportunities, all of your difficulties, and all of your problems, Jesus Christ is absolutely, totally, 100% sufficient. That’s what you have to know if you are going to be able to counter all the false teachings that you will encounter in life. Some false teachers had come to Colossi saying that Jesus Christ is fine, and He is just one among many. You need to add something to the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s very much like the religious atmosphere of our day.
We live in a timeframe where different kinds of religions are coming together in the name of tolerance. Of course, we do believe that we should be tolerant of other people’s faith in that every person has a right to believe what they believe. But we do not believe in tolerance to the point that all beliefs are equally true. Jesus Christ is not just something you add on. The Bible is very, very clear that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Jesus said in John 14:6, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes unto the father but by me.
Another attitude you will encounter in the religious world today is that you can just pick a little from this religion, pick a little from this religion, add a little on to what you believe from what someone else believes and it will just all fit together to become a kind of do-it-self religion. Our young people, especially our college students, will hear people say that it doesn’t matter. They say it’s fine to believe in Jesus but just add a little more to Jesus. Yet, it is not Jesus and something else; it is only Jesus.
An FBI agent who was working in the counterfeit division explained how they were able to recognize the forgery. He said they became so familiar with the genuine that they instantly recognized the forgery, however deceptive it may be. The more familiar you are with Christ, the more you know about the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ, the better able you will be to spot that which is a forgery, that which is not true.
The Apostle Paul is going to first establish the total sufficiency of Christ, so we can easily recognize the deficiency of cults.
I. We Need To Understand The Perplexing Prayer
In Colossians 2:1, we read, “For I would that you knew what great conflict I have for you.” He is talking about a prayer conflict. The word for “conflict” is our word, agony. It’s a word used for striving or competing in an athletic game. He’s talking about something that he was in agony over.
Have you ever had an agonizing experience of prayer? Have you ever become so exercised about a burden, a need, that it became, literally, a spiritual struggle? Paul was in a spiritual struggle. It was a struggle for these believers to not be pulled away from the sufficiency of Christ into one of these doctrines of error. What is the conflict?
In verse 2, we read, “That their hearts might be comforted, (that they would be encouraged) being knit together in love, (that they would be woven into a tapestry of love) and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, (that is, to the full wealth of the conviction that insight brings into your life).” Our understanding of this verse will give us insight which enables us to tell the difference between the false and the true. So, the prayer here is a prayer that we will come to understand and appreciate truth.
Do you see what appreciation for truth brings to your life? It brings encouragement. The truth encourages your heart. Truth brings love into your life. It also brings great conviction, great insight, and great assurance. He wants us to be well aware of that which is real.
In verse 3, he says, “In whom (Jesus Christ) are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” That verse is one of the greatest verses in the Bible. It is one of the most important verses in the Bible in terms of understanding what is available to you in Jesus and how sufficient Jesus is for every need you have in your life.
In Greek mythology, there is a story about an island of the Sirens and how when the sailors would pass by, the Sirens would sing a very alluring song. It would entice the sailors and they would sail toward the island, only to be wrecked upon the rocks. Ulysses put wax in the ears of the sailors so they would not hear the enticing songs of the Sirens. Orpheus came upon a better method. Orpheus played so beautifully on his harp that when he played the beauty of his song, it drowned out the enticement of the Sirens. That’s what Paul is doing for us. The Word of God is saying, “Listen, in Jesus Christ, you have hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” He is saying that you have it all in Jesus. You don’t need any more than Jesus Christ. You have it all in Him.
Have you ever been on a treasure hunt? With a treasure hunt, we find clues from place to place. Until, finally, we discover the treasure. God says, “I want to take you on a treasure hunt, but I want you to know in advance where the treasure is hidden. I’m going to tell you exactly where to find all the treasures.” “In Jesus Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Wisdom is the ability to apply spiritual truth. Knowledge is the ability to acquire spiritual truth. We find this in the Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus was on the earth, now and then, He would just open up the treasure chest. For instance, the Sermon on the Mount. Was there ever a greater sermon preached than Matthew 5, 6, and 7. Look at the treasures of truth that God gives about daily life in that sermon that the Lord Jesus gave.
Do you remember the time of the woman taken in adultery? She was dragged into the presence of Jesus by the legalists who were seeking to take the law and condemn her. Do you remember the riches of the treasures Jesus brought out? In response, Jesus Christ said, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.” He was showing the treasure. He was going to fulfill the demands of the law and pay the penalty that the law demands and by so doing make it possible for sinful people, like that poor woman, to be saved. He opened up the treasures. He talked about love. He talked about forgiveness. So much so that people said, “Whence hath this man wisdom, never having learned.” To the point that some said, “Never a man spoke like this man.” All truth is stored in Jesus. Everything true finds its truthfulness in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” We have sufficiency in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are hidden. You have to dig for them. You have to get into the Word. You need that daily time when you dig in the Word. When you have problems in life, you go to the Scriptures and ask God to help you. Fortunately, God has also gifted others in different fields who can take these different things they learn in different fields and put them through the sieve of Scripture and show us God’s truth as it applies to the basic problems and needs of our lives. It’s wonderful to know Christ because in Him you have access to all the treasures.
There is also a prayer here that we will avoid error. Look at verse 4, “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you (delude you) with enticing words (that is, smooth words, attractive arguments).” The word “beguile” was used in those days to apply to the arguments of a skillful lawyer.
Actually, that word means, “to argue alongside.” It’s the idea of arguing alongside truth to the point that people are pulled away from the truth. Paul is warning us that there will be false teachers. There will be those who will delude you with smooth talk, with attractive arguments.
The devil is a smooth talker; He is very convincing. In the Garden of Eden, that’s what got Adam and Even into the trouble they got in, which ultimately got us all into trouble. The devil came in. He had a congregation of two. He preached a very convincing sermon. He convinced them that there was something outside of God for them. He convinced them that they could find answers to their deepest needs outside of God. He convinced Adam and Eve, and the result was that they turned from God and fell into sin.
So, it is today. People use alluring, attractive arguments to get people to believe they can find the answers to the deepest needs of our lives somewhere besides Jesus Christ. That’s why people go from pleasure to pleasure. They go from religion to religion. They go from relationship to relationship. They go looking for what can only be found in Jesus.
Have you ever lost your car keys? You reach into your pocket and can’t find your car keys. You fumble around but can’t find them. You reach into another pocket and can’t find them. You reach in your back pockets and can’t find them. You look everywhere but you can’t find your car keys because they aren’t in any of those pockets. That’s the way many people search for things. They try to find the solutions to the deepest needs of their lives, looking in the wrong pockets. You aren’t going to find the answers to life apart from Jesus Christ. “In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom.” Don’t let enticing words pull you away from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Fortunately, these believers were holding firm. He says in verse 5, “…joying and beholding your order…” It’s a military term. They are standing shoulder to shoulder with the steadfastness of their faith. They are presenting a solid front. Churches must be faithful to the truth. God’s church must be faithful to the Word.
I don’t know how long it will be before Jesus comes. I read the news sometimes and I see what is going on in our world and it makes me pray with more intensity, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.” But if Jesus tarries His coming, the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ are going to have to stand firmer for truth than they have ever stood. All around us are whole denominations falling from the faith. Churches are departing from the faith. Christians are leaving the truths of God’s Word and following after enticing arguments of false teaching. We have an all-sufficient Savior in Jesus Christ.
II. We Need To Undertake The Powerful Pattern
Paul gives us a pattern for Christian living. He shows us in verses 6 and 7 how Jesus is all-sufficient for our daily Christian life. In verse 6, we learn, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.”
What Paul is saying is, just as you have trusted Christ to save you, trust Him, for each day’s problems. He is saying that you live the Christian life exactly as you became a Christian. You live for Jesus Christ daily, exactly on the same basis that you came to Christ in the first place. “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord.”
The tense of the verb means something like this. The salvation experience happens just like this. There may be a period of time building up to it when people witness to you, when God’s Holy Spirit works in your heart, but there comes that moment when you turn from your sins and by faith invite Jesus Christ into your heart.
I don’t know when that moment was for you. I don’t know when the Christian life began in your life, but the moment you said, “I’m a sinner. Jesus Christ, I trust you to save me,” at that moment when you received Christ, you became a child of God. Isn’t that wonderful! He is not only the Savior of your soul. He says you have received Christ Jesus and He is the Lord of your life. “You received Christ Jesus as Lord.” That means that He runs things from now on. The word, “Lordship” conveys He is in charge. That means that your daily life is to be lived in faithfulness to His will, to His plan for your life.
“As you have received him, so…” See those two little words, “as–so.” Here’s the key to living the Christian life. As you received Him, “so walk.” The tense of the verb is continuous action. It’s not something that happens one time. The Christian life is a daily matter.
Everybody seemingly wants something instantly. You get in a line at a fast-food restaurant and we are so used to getting the food so fast that if there is a 30-second delay, we get a little impatient. Some people want instant spirituality; instant maturity. It doesn’t work that way. “As you have received him, so walk ye in him.” It’s a day by day by day, step-by-step, walk with Jesus Christ. You walk in Him as you received Him. How did you receive Him? You received Him by repentance and faith. You repent, you turn from your sins. By faith, you turn to Jesus Christ and place your trust in Him. And, this is really how we live the Christian life every day.
I have repented a whole lot more after I came to Christ than I did before I came to Christ. I see sin now in a different light. I see my own unworthiness, now, in a different dimension. On a daily basis, I have to turn from what is wrong and ask God to forgive me. I repent of that which is wrong. By faith, I trust Christ to help me do what is right. What a way to live! “As you have received Him, so walk ye in him.” He is sufficient. We can’t live the Christian life. Nobody can live the Christian life. But the good news is — Christ is in you and just as you received Him, you can walk in Him.
Having stated that pattern of how the Christian life is lived, Paul gives us some pictures to describe the Christian life a little for us. In verse 7, we read, “Rooted in him.” The Christian life is pictured as a tree planted in soil. We are rooted in Him. You look at a tree and whatever you see in a tree on the outside is a reflection of what has been going on with the tree down on the inside of the soil. What the tree produces is dependent upon what happens to the roots in the soil. For the Christian, Jesus is the soil that feeds our lives. We draw nourishment from Jesus. We are to be rooted in Jesus.
The second picture we read is, “And built up in him and established in the faith…” That’s the picture of a building. Our lives as Christians are like buildings. Jesus is not only the soil that feeds our lives, He’s the structure that forms our lives. He’s constructing a building. He’s taking a life and making a beautiful building out of it. Jesus is the pattern of the building. He wants you to be like Jesus.
There’s a great amount of construction going on in America. Everywhere you turn, new buildings are popping up. You see signs every now and then in front of something that says, “under construction.” That would be a pretty good sign to put in front of your life and my life: “We are under construction.” The building is not through yet. He’s building us like Jesus. He wants us to become like Christ.
I once heard about a sculptor who had a big piece of marble. He was just chipping away on that marble. Someone came up to him and said, “What are you doing?”
He said, “Oh, I’m making a statue of a horse.”
The guy looked at that marble and said, “Man, that doesn’t look like a horse to me. How are you turning that into a horse?”
He said, “It’s really rather simple. I just chip away everything that doesn’t look like a horse.” That’s what God is doing with us. He’s building a building. He’s chipping away things from our lives that don’t look like Jesus. He wants us to be like Christ.
We are like a tree. He’s the soil that feeds us. We are like a building. He’s the structure that forms us.
The next picture is found in, “Abounding therein with thanksgiving.” The picture here is of a river just flooding its banks. Our life here is pictured like an overflowing river. Abounding, overflowing, flooding with thanksgiving. He is saying that Jesus is the song that floods our lives. We are to be flooded with thanksgiving. This is how we ought to live every day.
Matthew Henry wrote a series of commentaries hundreds of years ago. Today, Christians still study these commentaries. He was robbed on an occasion. Afterward, he said, “I want to express my thanksgiving. First, I want to give thanks that I was robbed and was not killed. I also want to give thanks that I was robbed and it was not I who was robbing. I want to give thanks that I was robbed of that which I had; I was not robbed of my own life.” The point is that we can just overflow with thanksgiving.
I have noticed that when Christians are not thankful, they are susceptible to the imitations of the devil. When you are not grateful for what you have in Jesus, when you are not thankful for the treasures, we are open game for the devil to try to slip in some substitute in your life.
There was a wealthy man who had an only son. He loved his son dearly. The wealthy man was interested in collecting expensive, beautiful paintings. He taught his son to love paintings too. They just accumulated quite a treasure of these remarkable, expensive paintings. A war broke out and the son was called away to war. The father received a message that the son was missing in action. Not long after that, he received word that his son had lost his life in the war.
Naturally, the father was just heartbroken. He had all of these art treasures, but none of them could compare to his only son. One day, a knock came at his door and a soldier stood there and said, “Sir, I was a good friend of your son. I want you to know that he died trying to save the lives of other people. Sir, I’m an artist, not an excellent one, but I painted a picture of your son just before he died and I just wanted to bring you this portrait of your son.”
Well, the father was overjoyed to get this picture of his son. It was a remarkable likeness. It was not done by a famous painter, but it was a remarkable job. The father took that painting of the son and put it over the mantel in his house along with the other paintings. In time, the father died. Later, people gathered together for the sale of his paintings, as his will instructed they should be sold. Many art collectors from many places came to bid on all of these paintings. As the auction opened up, the auctioneer started with the painting of the father’s son. The art collectors said, “That’s not worth anything. We are interested in the other paintings.”
They said, “No, according to the stipulation of the father’s will, this painting of the son has to be sold first. Will anyone bid for this painting? What about $100?”
No one said a word. They wanted to get on to the more expensive paintings. Finally, the auctioneer said, “Will somebody bid $10?”
A fellow in the back said, “Okay, I’ll bid $10 for the painting.”
“Going once, going twice.” It sold for $10.
People said, “Good, Good, now we can get on to the main business of the expensive things.
The auctioneer said, “The auction is over.”
They said, “What do you mean? You just sold one painting.”
He said, “The auction is over. According to the will of the father, whoever gets the son gets it all.”
Hallelujah! Whoever gets Jesus gets it all!