Grace Fellowship
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This week Carole reads several verses from Hebrews and Colin contiues in our series from Colossians, Colin's power point is attached as normal.

Colossians 2 : 16-17

Shadows and substance

In our previous messages on Colossians, we’ve seen that there were false teachers in Colossae who were promoting DIY salvation or DIY spiritual maturity. In order to enter heaven or progress spiritually, you had to carry out certain rituals and/or obtain some special knowledge. This is as dangerous today as it was then. Paul tackles these issues in Colossians 2 . In fact, the grammar of verses 16 to 23 addresses two main warnings:

> Let no-one judge you (based on) rituals/traditions because they are only shadows

> Let no-one disqualify you (based on) human efforts because these depart from Christ

1. First warning. “Don’t let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath Day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (v.16-17).

* Bondage of Condemnation. Paul has already said in v.8 “See that no-one takes you captive…” There, he spoke of hollow and deceptive philosophy and human tradition.

Paul often uses word pictures to illustrate the point he is trying to make. Here, we find ourselves in a courtroom with the accusations and judgment from the false teachers who had arrived in Colossae.

He is not condemning any kind of evaluation or testing, but the kind of censorious judgment of the Pharisees who judged as if they themselves were above judgment.

* Particulars of ritualism – things forbidden (food and drink).

* Ritualism - things required – religious festivals, new moon celebrations, and Sabbath days.

* Shadows and substance

Paul’s main point was to show these Colossians that these claims to greater spirituality through things that were forbidden or things that were required meant that they were living in the shadows.

Many Christians today live in the shadows, attached to traditions and rules and regulations. Paul has already said that Christ has done all that is necessary. He made us alive in Christ when we were still dead in our sins, he forgave us having cancelled out the written code with all its rules and regulations – he took it away and nailed it to his cross. The problem with shadows is that they detract from the value of the reality.

Photos of people cannot replace the real person. Texting someone is no substitute for face-to-face communication. The same is true of our relationship with God. Rituals are no substitute for real contact.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus – and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. Worship times, prayer meetings, Bible studies will become exciting times. In the Acts, the members of the early church met daily—not because they had to but because they wanted to. There was a fervour in their Christian faith and love for one another—and the Lord blessed them! What’s stopping us from following their example? Let’s not add things like tradition and rituals, taboos and legalism. Let’s not engage in DIY but rejoice in DONE!

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