Complete in Christ

by Mike Ratliff

11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:11-14 ESV)

We live in a time of deep deception. Even genuine Christians can be deceived if they are not exceedingly careful. It is imperative that, even though we must remain in the world for a time, we must not be of it. The Church has been under heavy attack since Acts 2. It is a wise and discerning thing for us to understand that God uses this to purify, cleanse, and teach the Church. It is as we address heresy that doctrine is developed or our understanding of God and His ways becomes more defined for us.

Let us never forget that God is both transcendent and imminent. Our environment heavily influences us, but God is outside of creation. His transcendence should comfort us because, along with His immutability, we know that He never changes and He is always faithful. God is still a mystery because He is so far above us that our minds cannot contain how wonderful and awesome He is. However, He is also imminent. He sent His Son to be incarnate as one of us. He never ceased being God, however, as a Man He was tempted in every way that we are yet without sin. At the proper time, He laid down His life to incur the wrath of God for our sin. Through this, He purchased His people with His blood. He redeemed them. As Paul said in the passage above, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” He is returning when it is the proper time. Then His imminence will be fulfilled.

In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul stressed that Christians must be on guard against false teaching. The best way to do that my brethren is have a clear understanding of who we are in Christ and what that means for us both in this age and the age to come.  In 1:14 Paul tells us that in Christ we have redemption. With that understanding in how we walk through each day we will be strengthened with all power, according to God’s glorious might. He will lavishly give us through this endurance and patience with joy. This is another vignette by Paul of how we are to run the race God has set before us. What other benefit do we have because we are redeemed in Christ? We share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. This means that Christians have eternal life in Christ and are given knowledge of God that unbelievers will never have. They know God is good and experience His goodness to them and will for eternity.

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16 ESV)

Here we see that all things were created in Christ. Our Lord did not come into existence when He was born of the Virgin Mary. We know from John 1:3 that He was the agent of creation through whom God made heaven and earth. Jesus Christ was not the first “thing” created since “all things” were created by Him. Any teaching about Christ that is contrary to this is heresy.

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, (Colossians 1:19 ESV)

Other heresies attempt to divide God’s divinity between various emanations. Paul is telling the Colossians and us that all of God’s divine powers and attributes were not spread out among created beings, but completely dwelt in Christ alone. Think is superstitions about “knocking on wood” to bring luck. Think of people who worship the Moon or the Stars. Think of Astrology. All of that is bunk because all of the fullness of God dwells in Christ.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, (Colossians 1:21-22 ESV)

All of the Redeemed are reconciled in Christ’s body of flesh by His death. All in Christ are reconciled to God through what Christ went through at the Cross. Why? It was so He could present us Holy and blameless and above reproach before Him. Have you worshiped Him yet? Have you thanked Him? In light of this my brethren, should our focus be on this life and all of its troubles or on Christ and what awaits us in eternity being reconciled to the Father through Him? We must live here now, but we should view all of what we do here as part of God’s work in us to conform us unto the image of our Lord.

1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1-3 ESV)

In Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. This is good news my brethren because now we know where to go for the truth when we encounter teachings that are not the same. If we compare them with Christ’s truth then we know that we are dealing with false teachings and must reject them, warn the brethren, and do all we can to shine God’s light of truth into the darkness there.

6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7 ESV)

Here we see that we are commanded to walk in Him as we are rooted and built up in Him. Again, this is vital to our repentance. We cannot walk before God, running the race He has set before us, outside of our being rooted and built up in Him. Christ is our firm foundation. If this is our daily understanding and focus then we will easily reject any other teaching contrary to this.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, (Colossians 2:8-9 ESV)

The Greek word used here for ‘take you captive’ is συλαγωγέω or sulagōgeō. It was commonly used to describe the plundering of cargo from a ship. False teachers attempt to do this very thing to believers through their philosophy and empty deceit and according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world. These are all contrary to Christ. Think of the ’emergent’ movement. Its leaders seem to be very well read, but they have elevated the teachings of the skeptics to a level where they see God’s Word as somewhat flawed and unreliable. What they do not understand is that they have been συλαγωγέω by these philosophies and are now victims of their empty deceit. They insist that all they are doing is attempting to get back to the pure elemental form of Christianity that existed in the 1st Century AD. However, in this, they have stumbled into lying spirits who have deceived them. We know this because they are constantly attempting to cast doubt on the veracity of the Word of God. This is one of the clear signs of a false teacher. How do we avoid this? We never take our eyes off of Christ for in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily! Amen!

10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:10 ESV)

The Greek word Paul used here that is translated  ‘filled’ is πληρόω or plēroō. This word gives us a word picture of cramming as many fish into a net as it will hold. It expresses the idea of being complete. What is Paul telling us here? He is affirming that believers share in Christ’s power and authority over all rule and authority because of their union with Him. This is amazing my brethren. We are complete in Christ right now through the imputed perfect righteousness of Christ at our salvation and we have all the power we need for our spiritual maturity. We have all we need in Christ. Therefore, we do not need to acquire knowledge of human philosophy or try to reconcile Christianity with Islam or Hinduism. We are complete in Christ.

11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (Colossians 2:11 ESV)

Believers no longer live in the sphere of the flesh and its influence (Galatians 5:24). They have been transferred to the Kingdom of Christ and live through and in Him, under His Lordship. This is the circumcision made without hands. Christ Himself performed it. Prior to this, all of us were in solidarity with Adam and his sin (Romans 6:6). However, all in Christ are now in solidarity with Christ and His righteousness. Before, none of us could live for Christ, now all in Christ can live for Him.

12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (Colossians 2:12-13 ESV)

All in Christ are identified with Him in His death and resurrection in water baptism. It is important that we see that our rebirth unto eternal life in Christ was both a dying and a rising with Christ. This is to help us cement into our hearts that we are now dead to the power of sin and Satan. We now are empowered to live the new life that Jesus calls us to live in imitation of Him (Romans 6:3-1).

15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:15 ESV)

At the Cross of Christ, all demonic powers were decisively defeated. They have been stripped of their power to accuse Christians before God. This is true, but they still exist and they still incite all sorts of evil around us. They are defeated, but we must still deal with them. The Cross exposes the failure of Satan and his forces to stop God’s plan of salvation through Christ. We should rejoice in this triumph. We must be wary of them, but we have nothing to fear from them as far as our eternal security in Christ goes. They may threaten us through our enemies, but like the martyrs during the Reformation who went to their deaths in the joy of the Lord, we who are complete in Christ will look to Him in whatever happens.

Do you see it? No matter what happens in our government or our country due to the forces of darkness coming to power, we who are in Christ have the upper hand in knowing the truth and thereby not being deceived by the deception that is coming upon the whole world.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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