by Mike Ratliff
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2:6-8 (NASB)
When God saved us He justified us by imputing Christ’s righteousness to our account. He washed us clean through the miracle of regeneration that changed us so that we now have the spiritual ability to walk through our lives and not sin. He also sanctified us, but that was only positional. He did not remove our old nature. We are still in a death struggle with it to nullify our pride and cultivate humility as God’s Holiness becomes manifest in us more and more. This body of death is still with us, but we are no longer dead in our trespasses and sins (Romans 3:10-18) because we are now alive in Christ.
How did we receive Christ Jesus?
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)
We received Christ by grace through faith, which is the gift of God. We did not decide this because that would be a work. In Colossians 2:6-8 we see that we are commanded to walk in Christ the same way that we received Him. We are, therefore, to walk by faith. This faith is not a work, but the result of God’s grace.
4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:4-9 (NASB)
Walking by faith is not like walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls while blindfolded. That would be taking a huge risk based upon either a faith in our own abilities or a trust in luck or fate. That is not what we are called to do. This walk by faith is accomplished as we die to self, take up our own cross and follow Jesus. In this mode we are yoked up with Him as He disciples us and leads us into obedience. There is no promise of ease or everything going our way while we do this. In fact, we may very well be lead by our Lord to take a stand that brings wrath from seemingly every corner down upon us. We may be called to submit to people whom we deem completely unworthy of it. Even so, our obedience to God is not going to please those who are enslaved to their flesh and have no concept of walking by faith. In fact these folks will do all they can to convert us to their way of thinking, walking, living, and worshiping.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2:8 (NASB)
What is this telling us? Any form of “Christianity” that is based within man-pleasing philosophies is not genuine. It is full of vain deceit and is worldly. It is opposed to Christ. This is telling us that the ways of the world are not the ways of Christ. Churches must welcome the lost to hear the gospel and do all they can do to lead them into the light, but it must be done in a way that is not of this world. They can come, but their worldly ways must not be welcome. Why? We are called to be separate from the world and not to be part of it. I would classify the Purpose Driven Church model as man-based philosophy; full of vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ no matter how much they claim huge numbers of conversions and massive church growth. It is all vain deceit.
9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:9-15 (NASB)
Christ and His ways are far above the ways of men. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Jesus Christ is God the Son. All genuine Christians are alive and spiritually complete in Him. Christ is the head of all principality and power. Our hearts have been circumcised in His power and by His command. This circumcision, accomplished at our regeneration, cleansed us of our sins because they were placed on Christ and atoned for at the cross. All in Christ died in Him and were resurrected unto this new life in Him. Baptism is a picture of this.
Even though we still struggle with our old nature, we do have the ability to mortify our sins and walk in victory. We are raised with Christ and we live that way when we deny our old nature and walk by faith. Just as Christ rose from the dead on the third day, we were raised from death unto life as God quickened us together with Him. Through this, God has forgiven us completely. Before that we were dead as dead could be. We may have been alive in the flesh, but were dead before God. Because of that, we were doomed to an eternity separated from Him. However, at that moment of regeneration, God erased and did away with all of the charges against us because they were nailed to the cross. All of the wicked principalities and powers that had held us as trophies were defeated at the cross. God made a public and open spectacle of them through Christ’s sacrifice.
All in Christ should be far more than simply hopeful of making the cut and being allowed to go to Heaven when they die. We were resurrected in Christ when God justified us and washed us clean through our regeneration. We have been quickened in Him and we should learn to live like it. That does not mean the distorted view of this life that the Health, Wealth and Prosperity or Word Faith crowd have, but one in which we learn to walk by faith more and more as God perfects us through the fires of sanctification and the pruning that makes us fruitful in Him.
What’s it going to be? Are we going to continue to live defeated and fleshly lives enslaved to our old nature and dominated by our pride, or are we going to turn our hearts back to God and seek to walk by faith by His grace and for His glory? Those who do the latter are the ones who live lives according to their resurrected status in the Kingdom. It does not mean they will avoid persecution or being slandered or treated horribly, but it does mean that within those trials, they learn obedience and how to live humble, full and God glorifying lives.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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