Dishman Baptist Church
Spiritual Bullying- Part 2
      • Colossians 3:11CSB

  • Blessed Assurance
  • Only King Forever
  • Our God
      • 1 Corinthians 9.16-17CSB

      • 1 Corinthians 9.18-19CSB

      • 1 Corinthians 9.20-21CSB

      • 1 Corinthians 9.22-24CSB

      • 1 Corinthians 9.25-27CSB

  • Introduction

    Good morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church - we are blessed and thankful that you have chosen to join us here this morning. We’ve been in the book of Colossians for the last 13 weeks and we’re just now, this morning, reaching the midpoint of this great book. The church of Colossae was under attack from aberrant teachings that were concerning enough to cause Epaphras to travel 1200 miles to Rome to ask Paul to write a letter addressing the situation that was arising there. There is little that we know about the specific issues that were being raised to attack the church there but from examining this letter we can draw a few conclusions. The first is that the attacks were Christological in nature - meaning that the false teachers were attacking and attempting to dismantle the teachings about Christ, that He was both truly God and truly man. So Paul has been patiently but pointedly teaching on the person and accomplished work of Christ. The most beautiful and comprehensive section of this is in Colossians 1:15-20 where Paul writes
    Colossians 1:15–20 CSB
    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
    Paul closes that opening section by saying that it is his desire - and the desire of every minister who is a true under-shepherd of Jesus Christ - to present everyone under his charge and teaching mature in Christ. Pursuant to this desire Paul begins to deconstruct the philosophies and arguments of the teachers in Colossae, warning the Colossian believers that they should not be deceived by their clever sounding arguments or taken captive by their philosophies or empty deceits that were based on human tradition or the world. Paul reminds the Colossian believers that they have received Christ Jesus as Lord, and because of this that they were baptized with Him in His death, that they were raised with Him at His resurrection as new creations and have been made alive with Him.
    Having dismantled the assaults on the doctrine of Christ, Paul is moving on in his teaching to the Colossians and has been giving us the best picture of what the false teachings were that had driven Epaphras to leave his church and to seek out Paul. Last week we looked at the dangers of legalism - forcing someone to submit to an external adherence to observable requirements rather than internal transformation. This week Paul is going to demonstrate for us the folly of another form of “ism” ideology that we can fall in to - in fact this form is probably the most prevalent ideological error that our churches experience today. It is the ideology of mysticism.
    Around ten years ago a book trilogy by man named Philip Rieff was published entitles Sacred Order/Social Order. Rieff was a sociologist and cultural critic who was a big fan of Sigmund Freud. The important part of this explanation is that this trilogy explains very well the cultural climate that we live in - and also will help us in understanding what Paul is describing in our passage this morning and how it is impacting our church and our culture today.
    Rieff’s premise was that just as there are first, second and third world economic structures, there is also a progression of culture from first through third world. First World cultures are characterized by a variety of myths that ground and justify their cultures through something that transcends the immediate present. A key component to these beliefs are the role of fate in the life of the individual. Second World cultures are characterized not by a belief in fate but by faith. The great examples would be Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, where cultural codes are rooted in the belief in a specific divine and sovereign being who stands over and above creation, and to whom all creatures are ultimately accountable. Both the first and second world cultures are similar in that their social order is governed by a higher sacred order. Third Worlds are characterized by their repudiation of any sacred order. There is nothing in a Third World beyond this world by which culture can be justified.
    There is a slight departure in this explanation with our passage this morning - the people who were plaguing the church of Colossae would claim that they were coming from a spiritual point of view but where their view aligns with the ideals of a third world culture is that their basis of authority is their own personal experiences rather than the standard that governs the true Christian culture and church. The basic understanding that we need to have walking into our passage for this morning is that we live in a day and age where it is the thoughts and feelings of the individual that determine individual truth and the concept of universal absolutes or truths is viewed with scorn and contempt.
    We can observe this from outside the church through the condescending tones of politicians, scientists and society saying things like “oh you silly Christians of course it’s not a baby until after it’s born so it’s okay to kill it” or “obviously we can choose whatever gender we want to be” and then the timeless favorite “surely you must recognize that evolution and global warming are true and that the earth is 25, I mean 35, I mean 135 billion years old”.
    The real trouble is that this has now begun to infect the inside of the church as well - and it is starting to distract the church from our mission. The Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation sometime in the early 90’s AD within 60 years of Christ’s crucifixion. He starts off by recounting letters to seven churches from Christ. Five out of the seven churches he addresses were being distracted from their primary mission and I would say that the percentage today may be much higher. We need to stand against that here at Dishman and so Paul gives us that opportunity today - to look at how to avoid being distracted in our faith. Please open your Bibles with me to Colossians 2 and we’ll read verses 16-23 again. We’re going to focus in on Colossians 2:18-19 this week and then finish up this section next week.
    Colossians 2:16–23 CSB
    Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is Christ. Let no one condemn you by delighting in ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm. Such people are inflated by empty notions of their unspiritual mind. He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, grows with growth from God. If you died with Christ to the elements of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations: “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”? All these regulations refer to what is destined to perish by being used up; they are human commands and doctrines. Although these have a reputation for wisdom by promoting self-made religion, false humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence.

    Don’t Get Distracted

    Colossians 2:18a; Colossians 1:23; John 6:37; John 6:40; John 17:24; Colossians 1:28; Matthew 6:1-6; Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 29:23; Revelation 22:8-9
    Paul continues this discussion with a phrase that, in the CSB, is translated as condemns and sounds very similar to the same thought that he was expressing previously when he said “don’t let anyone judge you”. But the sentiment that he is driving at here is slightly different than how it may initially appear. The Greek word here is katabrabeuo - and there will be a test later on the pronunciation of that word - katabrabeuo. This is the only place in the entire New Testament that this word is used. The NASB translates this word as defrauding and the ESV translates it as disqualify. It carries the sense of an umpire who is observing a play and makes the wrong call or decides against what a player is doing.
    It is important to recognize that Paul is not saying that we can be disqualified from salvation or that another person can nullify our confession of faith. Paul makes it clear in his other writings in Romans 8 that we cannot lose our salvation - and here in Colossians 1:23 Paul says
    Colossians 1:23 CSB
    if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it.
    That if is a conditional statement of fact - it is not the proposition that you can lose your faith or that you may not in fact remain steadfast and grounded but in effect “since you will remain grounded and steadfast in the faith”. Christ repeatedly said that the one who had come to Him would never be cast out
    John 6:37 CSB
    Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out.
    John 6:40 CSB
    For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
    And in His high priestly prayer Christ would pray on our behalf
    John 17:24 CSB
    “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s foundation.
    So since the ones who have placed their faith in Christ, both among the congregation of the Colossians and those of us today, can never lose their faith in what sense does Paul say that we can be disqualified by these teachers who placed themselves into the role of spiritual referees and seek to disqualify both those in Colossae and us today for not abiding by their rules?
    In order to get a good sense of what Paul is saying here we need to quickly look at another passage where he talks about disqualification. If you have your Bibles, keep your finger in Colossians 2 and turn over to 1 Corinthians 9 - we read this passage for our Scripture reading today.
    Paul finishes off this passage saying that his desire is to avoid disqualification - but disqualification from what? If we look quickly back through the passage he starts off saying that he is constrained, he is compelled to preach the Gospel. That if he doesn’t preach the Gospel then woe to him. He then says that he is free from all - meaning both individuals and with respect to the law - but that he willingly forgoes his freedom so that he can preach to all. That’s what the whole section about becoming like a Jew, like those under the law, those who aren’t under the law and those who are weak is all about - giving up his freedoms so that his actions are not an impediment to his ability to preach the Gospel to all. Then he explains it all with the illustration of being a runner in a race - and the prize that he speaks of isn’t salvation but within the context of this passage it is being effective in ministry and preaching the Gospel.
    Now turn back over to Colossians with me. Paul has been making the case that we are with Christ - that we are identified with Him, that we have been saved by Him and just before he begins this entire strain of his argument against the false teachings being presented he identifies his goal as a pastor - look at the end of chapter 1
    Colossians 1:28 CSB
    We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
    And then here in our verses today he says let no one condemn you - or as the ESV put it “Let no one disqualify you”. What Paul is trying to tell us is “don’t get distracted from your main goal or purpose” - stay on task and don’t be distracted by all these other practices that these “super-spiritual people” tell you need to be done in order to further your own Christianity.
    I think of the story The Pilgrim’s Progress - at least the Adventures In Odyssey version - where just after Christian has lost his burden at the foot of the cross and is continuing on his journey towards the Celestial City he runs into a woman who seems to have been eagerly awaiting his arrival as they must work together to make trinkets and baubles to present to the King. So Christian sits down to work with her until it becomes clear that she is never going to be satisfied with having made enough trinkets and he realizes that this is simply a distraction that has bogged him down and is preventing him from continuing on his journey toward the City.
    That is the same thing that these distractions can do to us - some of them and some of them are completely blasphemous. Paul gives us three examples that were being foisted upon the Colossian church - asceticism or super-humility, the worship of angels and seeing visions.
    Paul says that these men were delighting in ascetic practices - meaning that they were highlighting for the entire congregation to see how humble they were - much like Uriah Heep the despicable character of Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield who said “I am well aware that I am the humblest person going.”
    Even when they were trying to undermine His identity, these men should have listened to Christ’s teaching.
    Matthew 6:1–6 CSB
    “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    Charles Spurgeon demonstrated the truth of humility when he said “In a company where certain people were displaying their spiritual attainments, it was noticed that one devout person remained silent, and a talkative man turned to him and asked, “Have you no sanctification?” He replied, “I never had any to boast of, and I hope I never shall have.” The more high in grace, the more low in self-esteem.
    What was meant to demonstrate humility actually became a demonstration of false humility of the worst sort - pride. These men would have been wise to heed the words of the Proverbs
    Proverbs 16:18 CSB
    Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.
    or
    Proverbs 29:23 CSB
    A person’s pride will humble him, but a humble spirit will gain honor.
    The next area of error that the false teachers were trying to coerce the Colossians into was worship of angels. This is blasphemous toward God and has never been a part of true worship. In fact throughout Scripture angels - those who were holy angels and not fallen - repeatedly refuse worship.
    Revelation 22:8–9 CSB
    I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God!”
    Angels are ministering spirits that worship and serve God - only doing what they’ve been told to do to fulfill His purposes. So for these teachers to engage in worship of angels was the epitome of heresy. Unfortunately - like heresies have a tendency to do - this one took root and it would plague the region around Colossae until the mid-8th century. The commentator William Hendriksen notes that a church council was held in nearby Laodicea in 363 that made a declaration saying “it is It is not right for Christians to abandon the church of God and go away to invoke angels”. There is evidence that this practice continued with worship of Michael the archangel being evident until the mid-700’s even crediting miraculous healings to that angel.
    In addition to self-elevation through false humility and the worship of angels, these false teachers were claiming authority and superiority over the Colossian believers because of visions they had seen. Some of these may have involved angels or trips to Heaven itself. In recent years there has been a resurgence of those who claim visions in the church. In fact, one of the false teachers involved in the New Apostolic Reformation movement Todd Bentley claims to have seen and angel in his hotel bathroom. “I’m in my hotel and in my bathroom and it’s the middle of the night. And I turn my light on, and there’s a man in there. I look at this man without a shirt on, and I think he must’ve gone in the wrong room…Then I noticed he’s wearing really funny, like, white yoga pants; like really tight, ballet-type pants and Aladin-like golden slippers and I realize, this isn’t a man. This is an angel.” Then in the course of his story - which I wont recount for you he changes the sex of the angel from male to female and then back again. This is so unlike any account of angelic appearances in Scripture where Daniel, John and others write that they fell down like dead men at the sight of angels. Yet the point of these is to convince believers that they have access to a higher level of spirituality and therefore their teaching has Heaven’s stamp of approval and should be followed.
    None of these demonstrate a form of super-spirituality - instead what they reveal is the unspiritual nature of the individual’s mind.
    In fact what usually happens in cases like these is that we become puffed up - the word Paul uses here is inflated - and self-assured relying on our own efforts, knowledge and experiences to bring us closer to God instead of relying on our Head Jesus Christ to accomplish this for us.

    Maintain Your Focus

    Colossians 2:19; Hebrews 6:18; John 6:68-69
    Paul moves on to say that he - meaning the false teacher or teachers whether this points to one specific person is unclear - doesn’t hold on to the Head. The verb here for hold on to is krateo and it means to seize. It is the same word used in Hebrews 6:18
    Hebrews 6:18 CSB
    so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.
    encouraging us to seize the hope set before us. It makes me think of how we would anchor our ships. I know I’ve used this illustration before and I’ve confessed that it may not really work all that well because it is really the weight of the chain that holds the ship - but if that anchor doesn’t hold fast in the sea bottom then the ship could be pushed by the tide and the chain would drag. The NASB translates this verb as holding fast - encouraging us to seize Christ with a death grip that refuses to let go. Why - because we recognize and can say along with Peter
    John 6:68–69 CSB
    Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
    The Colossians had received Jesus Christ as Lord and now Paul is telling them two things - first that the false teachers were not holding on to Him as their head but more importantly he is telling them that they must hold on to Him as their head. Don’t get distracted by the side shows and the issue of the day. Stay focused on the truth that had been handed down to them from Paul through Epaphras. Paul is echoing the warning the Apostle John delivered in his epistle titles 2 John
    2 John 9 CSB
    Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son.
    These men were going beyond what Christ had taught and were actually impeding the growth of the church by their teachings. Instead of relying on the objective truths contained in the Gospel of Christ - they were encouraging the Colossians to measure their spiritual growth by subjective standards. Commenting on this passage John MacArthur wrote “ There is a tendency in human nature to move from objectivity to subjectivity—to shift the focus from Christ to experience. This has always intimidated weak believers and threatened the church.” Paul says that the entire body is nourished and held together by the ligaments and joints.
    First the body is nourished by the head through two primary means. The first is the influence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers as He carries out His mission of conviction and sanctification. The Spirit necessarily convicts Christians of ongoing, unrepentant sin that is impeding our growth. But He also works for our growth by developing the fruit of the Spirit within us - by deepening our capacities for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Yes, the Spirit prunes away the dead branches of sin but He also lovingly cultivates the branches in our lives that can most glorify our Head.
    The second source of growth in the lives of believers is the consistent exposure to the Word of God. It is through the vehicle of the teaching of the Word of God that the Spirit grows the Christian into Christ-likeness. It is how we initially come to faith
    Romans 10:17 CSB
    So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.
    And the message about Christ is perfectly contained in the inspired, inerrant Word of God
    2 Timothy 3:16–17 CSB
    All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
    And that is the only source of nourishment that we are meant to have - we should subsist spiritually solely on a Spirit fed diet of the Word of God.
    Alistair Begg has said that "The task of a pastor is to ensure that his congregation is anchored to the Word of God and grounded in the work of Christ." And that is why it is our desire to see each of you grounded in the Word so that you can hold fast to Christ. We keep returning to this verse but it is so applicable to what we are endeavoring to accomplish here at Dishman Baptist Church
    Colossians 1:28 CSB
    We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
    Yes we are also to grow together - Paul even uses the same Greek word symbiazo for being joined together as he did at the beginning of this chapter when he told the Colossians that his desire for them was to be knit together in love - but we are to grow together not through our own subjective experiences but through objective sharing of the Word of God with one another. And as we grow together we are to watch out for one another and to speak the truth in love. It is true that love covers a multitude of sins - yet we are also warned of how sin can impede the growth of a body when it is left unchecked. Much like cancer is a growth that takes place within the human body that is unhealthy and if left unchecked will kill the body, sin can infect and damage the body of Christ. And so we, as loving brothers and sisters remembering the log in our own eye, should be willing to address with one another issues that we see in our lives that are impeding the growth not simply of the individual but also of the body of Christ at large.
    Because all growth comes from God - whether that growth is numerical growth with people in the seats or, more importantly, the maturation of the people who are already a part of the flock here.

    Conclusion

    We don’t take our lead from the culture but from our Head - Christ. Now more than ever it is important to know where your nourishment is coming from - is it twitter or facebook or whatever the new “news and public opinion” source is or is it the inerrant, inspired Word of God? Because there are plenty of distractions out there - are we “woke” enough - do we care enough about social justice? In an article at Founders Ministry website I read a great response to the issue of the “woke” Christian.
    “The true privilege for American Christians, and all Christians, is not found in the pigmentation of our skin, but the eternal state of our souls. We have heard the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. We have been born again to new life in Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Lord has blessed us with gospel preachers through whom we received this good news. Heaven is our home and Jesus is our great reward. Yet, while people groups all around the world languish in darkness, dead in sin, condemned to eternal Hell, the church seems endlessly distracted by questions about how to make our lives in America more equitable and prosperous.”
    We in the church are being distracted by the increasingly virulent attacks by the sexual revolution on the church but instead of standing firm we are seeking to mollify or appease them. We are trying to give those who would profess to be same-sex attracted believers advice we would never give other groups in the same situations. We would never tell a pedophile that its okay to have the desires as long as they don’t act on them. We would never tell a heterosexual couple that it is okay to live together - and yet that is the council being given to people who have that inclination.
    We need to beware of who we are allowing to become our spiritual evaluators and what their motives are - we even need to be aware when we are our own spiritual evaluators and whether we are distracting ourselves.
    Here at Dishman - we are not facing some of those issues that I just talked about, at least not publicly - but we have our own distractions. For some of us there are pet sins or conditions in our lives that we are holding on to and are allowing to distract us from our primary goal. For others it is that we’ve grown complacent in our faith. We show up on Sunday but we’re really just going through the motions and think we’re good as long as we just keep showing up.
    What is it that is preventing you from being the most effective Christian - servant of God - that you can be?
    The worship team is going to come and play and as they do think on these things: What is it that is keeping your focus off of Christ? We’re going to be taking communion in a few moments but now is the time to ask that question - what is distracting me in my life? Who am I giving the power to be my spiritual evaluator and what might they be telling me that is contrary to what I find in Scripture?
    1 Corinthians 4:1–4 CSB
    A person should think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God. In this regard, it is required that managers be found faithful. It is of little importance to me that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even judge myself. For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. It is the Lord who judges me.
    We aren’t going to get into this passage beyond saying this - where do you stand with Christ who is your only judge? Have you repented of your sins and placed your faith in Him for your salvation? Have you recognized that your sin has earned you only death and eternal separation from God - but that His sacrifice offers you eternal life? Have you daily looked upon His face and remained focused on Him or have you allowed super-spiritual sounding voices and activities distract you from Him? Take this moment - pray and ask Him to erase all those distractions away so that you may be found faithful and be an effective servant of His. When you’re ready come, the table is open.
      • Colossians 1:15–20CSB

      • Colossians 2:16–23CSB

      • Colossians 1:23CSB

      • John 6:37CSB

      • John 6:40CSB

      • John 17:24CSB

      • Colossians 1:28CSB

      • Matthew 6:1–6CSB

      • Proverbs 16:18CSB

      • Proverbs 29:23CSB

      • Revelation 22:8–9CSB

      • Hebrews 6:18CSB

      • John 6:68–69CSB

      • 2 John 9CSB

      • Romans 10:17CSB

      • 2 Timothy 3:16–17CSB

      • Colossians 1:28CSB

      • 1 Corinthians 4:1–4CSB

  • I Can Only Imagine
      • 1 Thessalonians 5:23CSB

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