Have you ever had a problem that was so bad that you couldn’t solve it yourself? Did you wish that the problem would just go away? Well, the apostle Paul has the answer in Colossians 2:8-23. He argues that the cross is the answer to our deepest needs.
It took the sacrificial love of Jesus as expressed on the cross for people to come back to God. This change will provide us with the strength, wisdom, courage, love and other resources that we need to deal with our problems. The heart is the root of the problem. God understands this and he goes for the root cause of our problem. He promised to take away our hearts of stone, and he did this by joining us to Christ’s death.
Christ’s death was a sacrifice in the style of the Old Testament sacrifices. These rituals involved sacrificing animals to atone for the sins of the people. The problem was that the priests in the temple were human and they had to atone for their own sins as well as making sacrifices for the sins of the people. The view at that time was that God was an angry god who was only satisfied with sacrifices. Jesus was the perfect, sinless sacrifice for the sins of the people, and his sacrifice on the cross had a much deeper meaning than the Old Testament sacrifices.
When we have problems the cross meets us at the point of our deepest needs. First, the cross is love at its deepest and purest. It is the kind of love that allows God to forgive us and reconcile us to him. This love allows us to love others and receive the love others have for us.
The second need is for forgiveness. We are sinners, and in times of trouble this reality often hits close to home. Through the cross God forgives us and nails our sins to the cross. Once these sins have been nailed to the cross, God forgives them and forgets them.
The third need is for community. Families can be torn apart by our modern society. In larger towns and cities people often don’t know their neighbours. Our thirst for material happiness has isolated us. We need to be connected to other people. The good news is that we are all united and equal at the foot of the cross. Just like he was lifted up on the cross, Christ draws us to him and to each other.
The fourth need we have is a cause to live and die for. That cause is the cross. When we centre ourselves in Christ, the more sensitive we become to the needs of people around us. We die to self, sin and pride. The love that is motivated by the cross becomes our reason for living. God has taken the initiative through the Cross to unite us to him.
One of the problems we have to deal with in our spiritual lives is false teachers. They exist only to cheat us out of the life we have in Christ. They claim to know God, but they aren’t necessarily mature in the faith. There are countless people who know the Scriptures but don’t apply them to their lives. Their leadership is based on so-called visions and revelations. These claims are false because Jesus was God’s final and complete revelation to mankind. Jesus is the only person we can trust. He is the only one who warrants our allegiance and trust. The person who knows only one verse of Scripture and applies it is more spiritually mature than the one who knows many verses and applies none of them.
The recent information explosion caused by the Internet and the 500 plus TV channels we can receive has made it more difficult to know whom to trust, especially when it comes to biblical teaching. Many so called “preachers” and “theologians” have gained a platform by teaching things that are the opposite in what is written in the Bible. We must not let charm and charisma determine what teachings we will accept. We must put ourselves under solid, biblical teaching so we can be rock-solid in our faith.
One of the false teachings we have to be aware of is the legalism, or the rules and regulations of Old Testament law or fundamentalist denominations. Christ is the substance by which all things are measured out, not rules or regulations.
Paul rebuffs four deceptions that undermine Christianity-philosophy, deceit, the traditions of man and the basic principles of the world. He does this with a definitive statement regarding the identity of Christ. Believers have everything they need in Jesus. Believers are buried in Christ through the water of baptism and are raised to new life through faith. Sin, death and hell do not have a claim on us anymore. God made a public spectacle of his enemies when Jesus was triumphant over death. We do not have to submit to anything Jesus has conquered. Jesus has solved our biggest problem, and he can help us solve all of our smaller ones as well.
Jesus has united all believers through his death and resurrection. He erased our sin-debt. He has created a relationship with us, and that relationship allows us to live the Christian life. He gives us the resources we need to defend ourselves and to be successful in life.
- Dunnam, M.D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 31: Galatians/Ephesians/Philippians/Colossians/Philemon (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, NASB (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Lucado, M: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 2010)
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible software package.
- Pastor Jack Hibbs, “Be Filled.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Ron Moore, “The Real Thing.” Retrieved from www.ronmoore.org
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
- Michael Youssef, Ph.D., “The Day I died.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- “The Danger of Many Bible ‘Experts’.” Retrieved from Christianity.email@example.com