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The Grace Curriculum

"Debunking religious conspiracies, part 5"

Notice what we read in Acts 26:24–25 — “24 Now as Paul made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself (being irrational)! Much learning is driving you mad!” 25 But he said, ‘I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.’” The gospel of grace is a message that are words of truth and reason — they are words of sound doctrine. Conversely, religious messages are words that come from “much learning”, and cause one to become mad, or irrational, by mixing the Old and New Covenants together, and/or taking Scriptures out of its context and setting to fit what they believe to be true. 

To put it another way, religion makes what is simple, the gospel, into something complicated and irrational.

I know that this may sound strange, because we naturally think that “Christianity” requires much learning and study. But I have found that most people who spend much of their time and devotion at going to Bible institutions or studying the Bible have come up with a lot of crazy things (I’m by no means, putting anyone down. I just know what this did in my own life for many years!) Reading the Bible and studying it is definitely a good thing, but if we read or study it without the revelation of the finished work of Christ and the word of His grace, we’ll make a good thing into something that is bad, deceptive and dangerous; not just to oneself, but to those in whom we share our messages with. Please understand, I’m not being a bearer of bad news; nor am I advocating that people shouldn’t go to Schools or read their Bibles, I’m just making a point that much learning can make one mad and irrational; not speaking words of truth and reason. Now, we will continue our study from Colossians 2.

Conspiracy #7 — “We need the law to govern our behavior”, v.14. Never mind the fact that the law was a complete package under the Old Covenant, consisting of 613 of things to do and not do (Not just a select few of laws). Never mind the fact that the law was only given to about 1% of the world’s population — the Jews — and that it was not given to the other 99% of us Gentiles. So, let us understand the backdrop of why Paul said to Gentile Christians that the “handwriting of requirements” of the law was nailed to the cross. At the time, there were certain Jewish teachers called “Judaizers” who were sent from Jerusalem to the cities where Paul had preached his gospel of grace. After he left that city and went to another place, these Judaizers would tell these Gentile Christians that they had to keep certain laws of Moses to maintain their relationship with God. Does this sound familiar? This is exactly what many Christian leaders tell Christians today. 

Paul is letting us know that the living Christ, who lives within us, is more than capable of governing our behaviors. He does this by His grace, see Titus 2:11-12, Heb 13:20-21 and Phil 2:12-13!

Conspiracy #8 — “We need to be mindful of the activity of the enemy”, v.15. Wow, this is a big one! So many Christians seem to be living in the movie “The Exorcist”; where it’s all about the devil and what he’s doing. A lot of Christians seem to talk to the enemy almost as much as they talk to the Lord. Sadly, some Christians become worried that the enemy might possess them. But Paul, in this verse, clearly states that the enemy has been “DISARMED” by Jesus! The neat thing about the Greek word “disarmed”, literally means “taken off one’s clothes”. As far as Christians are concerned, the enemy is completely naked of any weapons to use against us, (See also what John said in 1 John 5:18-19). We live in a nasty world that’s under the enemy’s influence, and sometimes bad things happen to us. But we need to know, the enemy can never touch us again and the only thing that he can do against us is influence us with fear, condemnation and unbelief. This is why Paul, elsewhere, told us 4 times to stand against the enemy, not fight to beat him, see Eph 6:10-14.

Conspiracy #9 — “We need to watch what we eat and drink, and keep certain days, as listed in the Old Testament”, v.16-17. If you notice in many of our churches, people talk about these 3 specific areas — what we are to eat and not eat, what we are not to drink and that we are to keep certain festivals seen in the Old Testament. I perfectly understand, especially as I get older, that there are some things I shouldn’t eat or drink because of its effect on my body. But this is not what Paul is imposing here. He’s talking about what to eat, not to drink, and what we are to keep, according to the Old Covenant. Paul simply says, “the substance is of Christ”. It’s interesting that the Greek word translated as SUBSTANCE is the word used for BODY. Paul is referring to the body of Jesus fulfilling the law, and setting it aside, or as we saw earlier, “nailed to the cross”. The bottom line to what he is saying here: 

We must allow the living Christ to express His life in us, and be free to live our lives accordingly (He’s the one that gives us the desires to will and do, Phil 2:13).

Paul said elsewhere in referring to our eating and drinking (1 Cor 6:12) — “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” When we are letting Christ express Himself in us, we will understand those things that are not helpful, and we will not be brought under the power of anything!

Conspiracy #10 — “We need more than one spiritual experience to be fulfilled in life”, v.18. As one sacrifice was enough for our Redemption — Jesus’s sacrifice — receiving it was enough for our spiritual lives! God doesn’t give to His children in integrals, and over time. Look at what Paul said in Rom 8:32 — “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” When we received Jesus, God spared no expense in giving us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness! There are entire Christian circles that emphasize extra experiences that people should receive from the Lord. This kind of message has brought confusion to many, and it has created divisions within the Body of Christ. In v.18, Paul uses the words “taking delight”; as this is what Christians do in thinking that they have something that others do not have. 

Conspiracy #11 — “We need to do things that help us grow faster”, v.19. Most of our church leaders preach the gospel of grace in people becoming saved, but once they come into the fold, their message changes; they start teaching them that they need to do things like prayer, Bible reading, going to church, witnessing to others, and other forms of self-discipline, to spiritually grow up into Christ. These things are not bad in itself, but this is not what Paul said. Look at v.19, “(he) grows with the increase that is from God”. He said that this happens as one is, “holding fast to the Head” — this is Jesus Christ and His finished work! Holding fast to the Head is walking by faith in His grace. This is what causes one to grow in Christ (As we also saw in v.6-7). Also, we need to know, as leaders in the Body of Christ, that everyone grows differently, and at a different pace. There may be several reasons for this, but one thing is for certain: 

One’s spiritual growth happens when they are holding fast to the Head Jesus Christ!

Conspiracy #12 — “We need rules to overcome the flesh”, v.20-23. Contrary to popular opinion, the rules and boundaries that we set for ourselves are completely powerless against fleshly indulgences. I have a big desire for people to know the simplicity of walking in complete victory over the flesh! I can hear someone saying, “Simplicity? You don’t know me, Gene!” I used to have a mindset like that about myself; not knowing how to overcome my sinful vices. It brought me distraught and confusion over this whole “victory” ordeal. Finally, one day in my frustration, I decided to stop trying all together, and just focus my attention on Jesus. And to my amazement, I stopped doing those things! I, then, realized the message of grace in this — I can’t overcome what Jesus already has! I was trying to overcome the flesh, when Jesus has already made me a victor over it, see John 16:33 and 1 John 5:4. It’s God’s grace is us — which is His strength, by the way — that overcomes the weakness in our lives, see 2 Cor 12:9! The Spirit of grace executes in my life what Jesus has already made true (If you can understand that)! One doesn’t overcome the flesh by adhering to RULES. He overcomes the flesh by letting Christ RULE! 

Look again at these religious conspiracies that Paul addressed in Col 2:

  • “We can never be confident knowing God’s will for our lives”, v.2-3. It’s not a guessing game! God’s will is Jesus, and you are in Him — God’s will!

  • “We need to balance law and grace in our lives”, v.6. The law puts a magnifying glass on sin. It’s grace from start to finish!

  • “We need more of God/Jesus in our lives'', v.9-10. You are complete in His fullness!

  • “We need to invite Him into our presence”, v.9-10. Wherever you go, God’s presence goes; for He’s in you, and He ain’t leaving!

  • “We have 2 spiritual natures”, v.11-12. Your spirit is completely Righteous! As there is no darkness in God, there is no darkness in your spirit!

  • “We need more of God’s forgiveness”, v.13. God has completely and absolutely forgiven you of all sins — past, present and future!

  • “We need certain laws to govern our behavior and give us direction”, v.14. The 613 law-package of the Old Covenant was nailed to the cross!

  • “We need to be mindful of the enemy”, v.15. You are hidden with Christ in God; now that’s pretty safe! The enemy cannot touch you!

  • “We need to watch what we eat and drink, and we must keep certain OT festivals”, v.16-17. You are free to eat, drink and be merry — only use your discernment!

  • “We need more than one spiritual experience”, v.18. Your life in Christ is complete!

  • “We need to do things that help us grow faster”, v.19. Keeping your eyes on Jesus causes spiritual growth and maturity in Him!

  • “We need rules to overcome the flesh”, v.20-23. Just be yourself by walking in love, and you’ll notice that those sinful habits will leave, see 1 Cor 13:11!


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