Three Antagonisms to Christianity.

Colossians 2.

Christian Friend vol. 18, 1891, p. 141.

It is the "full knowledge" of the mystery of God that delivers us from all the "enticing words" of man. Once accept the absolute supremacy of Christ as the Head of the body, the Church, it is immediately seen that the Church is subjected alone to Him; that His authority must prevail over every member of His body. No believer, therefore, can ever occupy his true place until he recognizes that Christ is the Head, and that His headship excludes - of necessity excludes - every other authority.

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It is on this account that the apostle specifies in this chapter the various antagonistic influences, which are ever at work to undermine this blessed truth. The first of these is philosophy and vain deceit; that is, as we understand it, philosophy which is nothing but vain deceit. It must be so characterized, for it springs from man's mind; it is formed into a system by human reason, and its object is to corrupt the revelation which God has been pleased to make by His Spirit in His inspired Word. It is Rationalism - Rationalism pure and simple, which judges everything according to its estimate of what is suitable to man. Sinful man would thus sit in judgment upon the thoughts of God! This philosophy, in the words of another, is the wandering of the old man's mind; and, as we read, is after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

But if the danger is indicated, the antidote is supplied. All the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily, in Him as the glorified Man at God's right hand; and we are in Him there, and as in Him we are complete, filled up to the full, before God. Man, therefore, can contribute nothing to the believer; for he has everything in Christ. What an immense truth! All the fulness of the Godhead is in Christ for the believer, and the believer is complete in Him, as filled up in this fulness, before God. What folly then to turn away to human sources - to broken cisterns indeed, that can furnish no supplies!

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It is, moreover, in Christ that we have been "circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the flesh* by the circumcision of Christ." The place of circumcision for Israel was Gilgal, after they had crossed the Jordan; and this will explain the meaning of this scripture. It is the application to ourselves of the truth of the Jordan; that is, of our association with the death of Christ; not His death for us, but our death with Him, and our entering into it. Hence it is "the putting off the body of the flesh," the end of ourselves in the death of Christ; and consequently it is the doorway out of this scene altogether. But if we, as children of Adam, have come morally to an end in the death of Christ, we have been buried with Him in baptism, wherein (or, as some prefer, "in whom") also we are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. If, therefore, we have died with Christ out from this scene, we are risen with Him into a new place; but this is only apprehended by faith, as the apostle specially states. But, when learnt, the true character of going back to the tradition of men, and to the rudiments of the world is at once detected.

*The words "the sins of" must be omitted, as not having sufficient authority.

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The second form of opposition is now reached in the chapter, and it is, in one word - Ritualism. Before it is named, however, the apostle goes back to our past condition, when we were dead in our sins, and the uncircumcision of our flesh, and points out that God has quickened us together with Christ, having forgiven us all trespasses, blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; and, moreover, that He has overcome the whole, and every form, of Satan's power, as against His people, in the death of Christ. Let the reader ponder this remarkable summary. We have been quickened with Christ; have passed with Him out of death into a new sphere; all our sins have been forgiven; all the handwriting in ordinances, which was contrary to us, has been effaced, and we have been rescued from every variety of Satan's power. What, therefore, have we to do with Ritualism, brought out, as we are, from the whole state and scene, in which and where rites and ceremonies apply? Besides, they were, at their best, even as divinely instituted in Judaism, only shadows. The body is of Christ. To accept Ritualism would thus be to deny the heavenly character of Christianity.

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The third enemy springing from, and generally allied with, Ritualism is Superstition. The apostle introduces it in connection with the worship of angels. It abounds on every band; and it increases with infidelity, from which it is the natural reaction. As believers, unless we are in the liberty of grace, and in the sense of union with Christ, we easily fall under its influence in one form or another. The efficacious antidote, both to it and to Ritualism, lies in holding the Head, in maintaining in our souls the practical power of union with Christ, and constant and entire subjection to His authority, as well as the recognition that it is from Him, as Head, that "all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." As members of the body of Christ we are dependent alone upon the Head, and upon the supplies He may minister through "joints and bands"; and consequently we are entirely independent of all human sources. May the Lord teach us increasingly the lesson that all our springs are in Himself.