Over the weekend, my daughter and I participated in the Spartan race. Ripley ran on the ½ mile course designed for her age group, under the age of 8, and I ran in the Sprint series. The Spartan Sprint has 22 different obstacles and is what they call 4 Spartan miles. I’m guessing the course was actually 4 and half miles up and down hills and through the woods. Of course water and mud were in the mix. It was a great experience for us both.
I learned that even though I am fit for a 47 year old, I am not Spartan fit. My lower back is still tight and I’m seeing new bruises coming to the surface. I’ve done over 12 different types of these obstacle races so I’m used to the bruises and the scrapes. It’s part of the adventure. The best part of the race is at the end, you are given a medal and a t-shirt. Ripley wore her shirt to school and is pride to do so. Before the race begins, the MC tells the racers if you don’t complete an obstacle you did not fail because you have tried your best. This can almost be said of the Christian race. The difference is that our victory as Christians is not in ourselves but on the man of Jesus Christ.
Because the sin debt was paid by Jesus on the cross, we are able to have a full relationship with God the Father. Satan does not want us to know who we are in Christ; he does everything in his limited power to keep us from growing in our walk in Christ. Knowing the truth will help us from falling for lies that our enemy (the devil) tries to sale us. Knowing what the Bible says equips the Christian to live a fulfilled life; a victorious life. Paul in Colossians 2:4-15 writes how we can to know how to walk in victory in Jesus Christ.
We are to walk carefully so that you will be determined (Col. 2:5 rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.) The words, “discipline” and “stability” are military terms. Discipline meant the arrangement of an army in ranks; and Stability meant battle formation, a presenting a solid front to the enemy. We must walk carefully so that we can be effective soldiers of the cross. Paul was saying walk carefully so that you can be determined, and to walk carefully so that you won’t be deceived by false philosophies (2:8a See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, . . .). The Greek world was greatly influenced by Greek Philosophers and philosophies. Famous men such as Plato, Aristotle and Socrates had impacted the ancient world. The word, “philosophy” simply means, “to love wisdom.” There is nothing wrong with loving wisdom. There is nothing wrong with reasoning. The Apostle Paul often reasoned with people concerning the faith. The problem for the Colossians was that philosophy was exalted above God. Some men were seeking to harmonize the Christian faith with the philosophies of their day. The same can be said today with some preachers and churches. They were seeking to conform Christ to their system of logic. Paul was saying that Christ is above all and informs everything else. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:21 that “The world by wisdom knows not God.”
Walk carefully that you won’t be deceived by false philosophies and walk carefully that you won’t be deceived by trivial traditions (2: 8b. . . according to the tradition of men, . . .). The Jewish faith was full of traditions. Most of these traditions had become sacred to them but had nothing to do with God. That’s why Jesus often got in trouble with the Jewish leaders: He didn’t follow the traditions of men. The “Judiazers” were present in Colossae trying to bend the church toward the Jewish traditions. They were the self-appointed policemen of religious life (similar to the Jihad police in the Muslim world). Theirs was a system of do’s and don’ts such as how you look, what you wear, when and where you worship and how you worship. There are some churches today that try to do the same with telling their members if you do XYZ then you are walking right with God, but if you don’t then you are wrong. Where the Bible is silent on ways of behavior and dress, the Holy Spirit is the One who guides our way and not man’s list of do’s and don’ts.
Paul said to walk carefully so you won’t be deceived by false philosophies, by trivial traditions and to walk carefully that you won’t be deceived by worldly ways (2: 8c . . . according to the elementary principles of the world, . . .). There could be two meanings here: (1) Gnostics separated spirit from physical. They claimed that we relate to God by Spirit so the body has no relevance in knowing God. Therefore, whatever you do with your body doesn’t matter. You could drink, smoke, gamble, have free sex playboy lifestyle, whatever because it was separate from your spirit. This way of thinking to still around today; we just don’t call it Gnosticism. (2) “elementary principles of the world” can be a reference to spirit beings in the world. There was a movement to worship angels and beings of the spirit world. There was a lot of star gazing in the first century A.D. Astrology and the worship of angels and heavenly bodies were in the norm. Today we use horoscopes, astral charts, ouija boards, fortune telling, crystal balls, etc. We must walk carefully to not allow such thinking get into our church, but I’m sorry to say it has already.
As Christians, we are to walk carefully and we are to walk in Christ. We walk in Christ by faith (Col. 2:6) and by being focused (Col. 2:7). We should be focused on being grounded. The word “rooted” in Col. 2:7 is an agricultural term. Roots draw nourishment and hold firm; we are not to be as tumbleweeds with weak roots that are blown about by every wind being colorless and dead. Jesus is the soil from which we grow. We are to take root and draw nourishment. We should be focused on growing. Col. 2: 7 says “built up in Him and established in the faith.” The phrase “built up” is an architectural term. Jesus is the foundation on which a life is to be built. How sad it is to see a house that is under construction but never finished. We are to build up (edify) one another to maturity. We should be focused on being grateful. Col. 2:7 concludes by saying “overflowing with gratitude.” Another word for gratitude is Thanksgiving. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Colossians 2:9-10 (For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;) answers the question, “Why do we walk in Christ?” First of all, we walk with Christ because He is the fullness of God (Hebrews 1:1-2), and secondly He makes us complete. A baby is born complete. We don’t add more DNA after the child is born. The baby grows from what is already programmed into it. The baby grows from inside out. So are we in Christ. We grow in our new live in Christ from the inside out.
We are to walk carefully, we are to walk in Christ, and then we will win in Christ. We win with Christ through association (Col. 2: 11-13), and we win with Christ through forgiveness (Col. 2:14-15). When Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the grave He did two things. First, He destroyed the debt of sin (2:14), and He disarmed the dominion of Satan (2:15).
Paul uses imagery in Colossians of the great battle victories celebrated in antiquity. At the crucifixion site, the enemy, the Devil, thought he had won by putting Jesus on the cross. The truth is that Jesus embraced the cross and took our sins on Himself to pay our sin debt and make us victorious in Him. The devil saw Jesus on the cross as his victory over the Son of God; however, on the third day Jesus the Warrior King rose in victory over death. With conquering death and hell, Jesus paid the sin debt and doing so canceled any right Satan has to hold you captive; you are free.
Jesus takes you by your hand and looks you in your eyes as He tells you that your sins are forgiven, the enemy is conquered, your life liberated from captivity, and that God is now your Father. New life is your gift and heaven is your home. At that moment, you feel freedom for the first time. At that moment, what Jesus had done for you was made known to you by God through the working of the Holy Spirit. At that moment, you stepped over the defeated devil and embraced Jesus with the passionate joy you had previously never known. When Jesus saved you; you were finally known, you were finally loved, you were finally safe, you were finally free, and you are victorious!