The Things We Do, Think, & Say

Colossians Bible Study Day 7 of 14

Read Colossians 2:16-23

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,[a] puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Colossians 2:16-23 (NIV)

Why do we do the things that we do?

Is it because of habit?


Why do we put candles on birthday cakes? Why can’t you publicly talk about Texas A&M without people yelling “WHOOP!” at you? How come you open the same app every time you use your phone?

These are trivial examples, but there are religious habits and traditions too.

Why do you say the same prayer every day before dinner? Is “God works in mysterious ways” really a beneficial thing to say to those who are grieving? Are you really sorry for your actions or do you just not know what to say?

God cares about our lives. He wants them to be meaningful and full of purpose. He wants us to experience life’s pleasures and to enjoy His creation, not just live our lives following cultural standards. Let us put an end to meaningless traditions and regulations, which Paul refers to as the basic principles (some versions say “elemental spirits”) of this world. Let’s stop indulging in these actions because they are based on human tradition and not on Jesus.

How do we do this? How do we turn our habits, especially our good ones, into something of substance?

It requires a mind shift.

Start with your meal-time prayer. Praying is common, but it is also sacred. You are talking with the Ruler of all the powers and authorities on Earth (2:10). Savor it and pray more often, not just at meal times.

“God works in mysterious ways.” Yes, He does, but our hurt loved-ones don’t need a well meant truism; they need shelter and refuge. You know God; so provide for them (Psalm 91:2; Hebrews 3:6). 

We should be thinking about the things we do, think, and say, so we are not participating in meaningless activities. We do this because all habits and traditions are destined to fail at bringing meaning to our lives if they are based on human commands and teachings. Please, don’t waste your time with them. Instead focus on regaining your connection with God.

Diving Deeper

Is there a habit you need to stop? Or perhaps a habit you need to bring meaning to? Dwell on it, make a plan, and we will revisit it at the end of this study. If you cannot think of one ask a close friend or significant other.

Go ahead and read over tomorrow’s devotional. It’s short, and you might need to prepare for it.

Triumphing Over Them By The Cross

Colossians Bible Study Day 6 of 14

Read Colossians 2:9-15

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Colossians 2: 9-15 (NIV)

Jesus is the ‘head over every power and authority.’ Sit in that for a moment.

Think about all the nations… Politicians… Leaders… and ask yourself who is really in control?

There is one Leader, one King of kings, & one Ruler; His name is Jesus. He has triumphed over every power and authority through His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead. He is LORD of all.

Paul then gives us some imagery for what happens when a person becomes a Christian. He uses immersion baptism to show how we are buried/submerged (putting our sinful nature to death) and then resurrected/emerged (into a new life with Jesus).

What is a new life with Jesus?

Paul explains what a new life with Jesus is later in the letter, but first he explains what it is not. A life with Jesus is not filled with written codes and regulations (v14). It is not a life marked by following the laws of the Old Testament because those have been nailed to the cross.

So if the laws and regulations of the Old Testament (like the Ten Commandments) have been put to death then how should we live?*

Diving Deeper

Paul once again lets us know that Jesus is “the fulness of the Deity” in bodily form, just like he did in Colossians 1:15-20. This idea must be important to Paul. Make a note that one theme of Colossians is ‘Jesus is God in bodily form.’ As you read through Colossians look for more themes to write down next to that one.

*Paul will give us the answer of how a Christian should live later in the Letter.

You Will Recognize Them By Their Fruit

Colossians Bible Study Day 5 of 14

Read Colossians 2:1-8

I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:1-8 (NIV)

Paul spends a considerable amount of his letter to the Colossians addressing false teachings. In this short section of scripture alone we see two distinct warnings (v4 & 8), but there are many more throughout the letter. These false teachings are a big deal! In fact, it is the reason this letter was written to the Colossians (v2-3).

God, using Paul as his messenger, is telling us that He can be known through Jesus who provides complete understanding, wisdom, and knowledge. BUT is warning us of false teachings that appear as “fine-sounding arguments,” but are actually “deceptive philosophy.”

In light of this message we need to answer two questions 

  1. How do we differentiate fine-sounding arguments from good, sound arguments?
  2. How do we know when philosophy is deceiving us?

In the sermon on the mount Jesus gives us an excellent way to identify false teachers and false teachings.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7: 15-20 (NIV)

Jesus is saying we can identify false teachers and false teaching by monitoring the results of the teaching/teacher. Does your belief lead to peace or depression? Does the teacher’s life look chaotic or harmonious?

You will recognize them by their fruit.  

Diving Deeper

Think about those dark moments; the moments when you are filled with shame or regret. How did you end up there? Were you looking at porn? Did you have too much to drink? Did you say something you shouldn’t have?

First, God’s grace is sufficient and he offers you forgiveness.

Second, I am sorry that happened.

Third, if we find ourselves returning to the same hurtful activity over and over again then we might have more than just a sin problem. We might have a core belief problem. We may be trusting in a false teaching.

I challenge us to explore the areas where we continue to do wrong. Find the root cause of our repeated sin by asking why we do what we do (you might have to ask “why” several times to get there). The goal is that we would dig deep into our hearts until we find a core belief, the false teaching, that is fueling our evil-doing. I’ll give an example below.

Surface Sin – Keep thinking inappropriate sexual thoughts about people other than my spouse
Why? – I want to do those things or relive past experiences
Why? – I think it would be fun
Why? – I think sexual experiences with multiple people is better than monogamy
False Belief – Sexual experiences with multiple people is better than monogamy 

May God expose our hearts to the truth and make known any false teachings we have put our trust in. May He give us the strength to eliminate all of our wrong beliefs and discernment to recognize any false teachers.