What We Learned Together Sunday January 21, 2024
Over 60 years ago a secular psychologist coined the term “identity crisis” the profound psychological challenge faced by adolescents and emerging adults who must figure out who they are, what they’re going to do with their lives and who they’re going to do it with. Erik Erickson put it this way “identity connotes both a persistent sameness within oneself and persistent sharing of some kind of essential character with others.” Such teaching spreading seeds within our culture of so many pursuing an identity of what others want them to be and who they desire to be in and of themselves. There is the identity crisis within the church which is what Paul is teaching here in Colossians 2:11-15. Last week “Their Deficiency and His Sufficiency.” The title of the message this morning “His Sufficiency and Our Salvation.” Through chapter two Paul telling us a Christians we are Complete in Christ 2:4-7, 8-12, 17, 19 “Christ . . . in Him . . .with Him.” Our Sufficient Savior: Complete In Christ and Our Identity in Him. One description of a summary of our identity in Christ would be “union with Christ provides fullness in the Christian life, so negating the need for man-made improvement programs. In the Colossian context, this man-made improvement program entails the heresy promoted by the Judaizers . . .” The Colossians heresy again summarized in verse eight “See to it that there is no one who takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception in accordance with human tradition, in accordance with the elementary principles of the world, rather than in accordance with Christ.” Our Present Christian Walk . . . [2:6-7] and The Present Christian Warning [2:8]. Pastor Bryan Chapell writes in his recent book Grace at Work: I have a friend who's a marathon runner. He was in a race a few years ago that he knew would be tough, particularly at the end. And knowing what happens at the ends of races, how people call out encouragement, he didn't put his own name on his racing bib but actually wrote the word “Christian.” He knew that when he got to that final mile, and all the people were cheering, they wouldn't call out his name but would say, "Go get `em, Christian!" "You can do it, Christian!" "Hang in there, Christian!" You are almost to the finish line Christ. He ran to represent the name of Christ that he bore. Keep going Christian. In Christ Only Are You Completely Saved . . . In Christ Only Are You Completely Forgiven . . . In Christ Only Are You Completely Triumphant.
First, In Christ Only Are You Completely Saved [2:11-13a]. See In Christ Himself Positionally and Really Changed in verse eleven. This first phrase “in whom you were also circumcised” meaning spiritually not physically. And then the next phrase “with a circumcision made without hands” showing this work of God in the life of the Christian. Next describes what has been done in the phrase “in the removal of the body of the flesh.” [cf. 2:15; 3:9] One commentator wrote this, This noun means to strip off from one’s self, as clothes or armor; ἐκ out of, having the force of getting out of one’s garments. By the addition to the verb of ἀπό from, there is added to the idea of getting out of one’s clothes that of getting away from them; so that the word is a strong expression for wholly putting away from one’s self. [Word Studies In The New Testament] One pastor wrote, "The body of the flesh refers to the sinful, fallen human nature totally dominating believers before salvation. Christians have been cleansed of that sinful dominance and been given a new nature created in righteousness, having been circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, that is, not physical but spiritual.” The last phrase in verse eleven “in the circumcision of Christ. . .” Again the focus on Christ Himself for the Christian! Paul in Romans chapter two also wrote, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from people, but from God.” [Romans 2:28-29] See In Christ Himself Personally and Fully Alive in verse twelve. Here is Who You Are In Christ and Now Have Faith In The Working of God. The Christian is spiritually participated in Christ’s death, burial , and resurrection. The series of statements describing life, death, and resurrection “ . . . having been buried with Him in baptism . . .” and “in which you were also raised up with Him . . .” The faith in the working of God Himself as Paul states clearly “through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” [See Romans 6:6-12] The emphasis on faith in these first two chapters of the book of Colossians: “your faith in Christ Jesus” [1:4] “you continue in the faith [1:23] “your faith in Christ” [2:5]. Therefore we identify with Christ now as our very life we live with a death to our life before faith in Christ Jesus the Lord. And also When You Were Dead And Then Became Alive In Christ. Our previous state without Christ before believing as Christians was “And you being dead in your transgressions . . .” [See Ephesians 2:1-4] and “ . . . and the uncircumcision of your flesh . . .” But now in Christ “He made you alive with Him . . .” [2:10, 12] The Christian life is really showing I have life in Christ as one who had the removal of the body of flesh and faith in the working of God. Being such one who has my identity in Christ which is what is means to be a Christian. One man entitled this passage “Him and Us.” In Christ Himself Positionally and Really Changed and In Christ Himself Personally and Fully Alive. His sufficiency and our salvation. We are the circumcision of Christ group who had the removal of the body of the flesh and made alive in Him.
Second, In Christ Only Are You Completely Forgiven [2:13b-14]. See In Christ Himself Personally and Entirely Forgiven. Forgiven Because We All Need Forgiveness for All That We Have Done Wrong “ . . . having graciously forgiven us all our transgressions.” [READ Luke 7:40-50] Back in chapter one, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” [1:14] This verb graciously forgiven is used 23 times in the New Testament. This verb is used later in Colossians 3:13 “and forgiving each other . . .” Like words of old hymn “It Is Well With My Soul,” which says, “My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul!” Forgiven Because He Cancelled Our Great Debt In Everything He Required. He Cancelled Our Debt “ . . .having canceled out the certificate of debt” is a word “used of blotting out a writing” [Isaiah 43:25; Acts 3:15]. And what was our debt “consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us.” No relief through rules and rituals nor the religions of man. Such decrees demand our punishment and condemns us guilty. See In Christ Himself Positionally and Really Forgiven. Forgiven Because He Removed The Judgment of Our Transgressions by God. “He also has taken it out of the way” meaning “to lift up and carry (away).” What we were unable and incapable of doing he Himself did! Forgiven Because He Received The Condemnation of Our Guilt Before God. He Died on the Cross “ . . . having nailed it to the cross.” [READ 1:20-22] One commentator describe this verse in this way, “Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross.” [Phillips] Maybe you are here this morning, and you are asking, “Can He really forgive me for that? Yes He can and does! Admit your guilt and confess your sin asking for His forgiveness! Such tragedies of people who carry around their sins and guilt and lay upon others the weight of their sin not seeking to direct people to forgiveness in Christ. When we seek our identity in self-righteousness and rules such forgiveness is not understood or granted according to our standards and measures of others. The pride of not finding only forgiveness in Christ. We gather here as New Life Fellowship to declare we are in Christ! In Christ Only Are You Completely Saved and In Christ Only Are You Completely Forgiven. So we are not here today or any other day seeking to attain forgiveness but finding and having forgiveness in Christ. In Christ Himself Personally and Entirely Forgiven and In Christ Himself Positionally and Really Forgiven. At the cross He paid our debt and as Christians we are fully forgiven.
Third, In Christ Only Are You Completely Triumphant [2:15]. See In Christ who Himself “Having disarmed the rulers and authorities . . .” and “He made a public display of them having triumphed over them in Him.” Christ will be your protector. In Christ you are not under the dominion of the devil. No refuge in any religion for protection from the spiritual realm. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” [Ephesians 6:10-11] In Christ Only Are You Completely Triumphant. Satan must use deceptions, tricks, and schemes to accomplish his work in the life of the Christian. The warnings in the Bible of his activity and warnings to the churches of giving him some advantage in relationships. Because I am in Christ sin no longer has power over me. I choose to sin when I sin and pick up that body of flesh. Because I am in Christ I am no longer condemned in my sin. Because I am in Christ there is no longer power of Satan over me. Victory over Satan and his demons and therefore victory in the Christian life. The weapons of Satan are only fears and lies which have no control over us as those who are in Christ.
Before us today in this Scripture passage is His Sufficiency and Our Salvation. Rejecting all forms of self-righteous religion which give commands and make demands not possessing completeness in Christ and not having forgiveness in Christ. All of the commands and demands of a self-righteous person towards others remembering the example of the Pharisees against Christ Himself. Knowing that Christ is the Only One who does forgive my sins therefore looking to Him for power over sin & going to Him when sin is present. Therefore pointing to Him when addressing sins in the lives of others. The essence of false teaching is that you need something more than Christ therefore know Who He Is and believe What He has done as a Christian. In Christ Only Are You Completely Saved. In Christ Only Are You Completely Forgiven. In Christ Only Are You Completely Triumphant. And Abounding in Thanksgiving for Who You Are in Christ & What He Has Done. “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 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.” [2:6-7] As if Paul is telling us about our identity in Christ that each of us would say, “I am so thankful for His Sufficiency and Our Salvation.” It is Him and us.
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.