The Contrast Between Christ and False Religion
Our lesson aim is simple, it is to draw a clear line between Christ and false religion.
"In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead."
1. False religion stresses ritual and outward form - vs. 11.
Some in the Colossian church were stressing the ritual of circumcision. They said that a man had to be circumcised to be saved, that God would not accept him unless he was circumcised. Giving his heart and life to Jesus Christ was not enough. Even if he trusted Christ and gave all he was and had, God would not accept him unless he was circumcised. There was a reason for this belief. Circumcision was the ritual of faith to the Jews. It symbolized two things.
Circumcision symbolized the faith of a man and his family in God. When a man trusted God, he was circumcised as a sign or testimony of his faith in God. His circumcision declared to the world that he and his family were going to follow God.
Circumcision also symbolized the cutting away of the "body of sins" that were in the flesh. When the foreskin was cut off and removed, it was a picture of sin—the whole body or package of sin—being cut off and removed from the man.
Circumcision was something God had intended until Christ came. Very simply, a man was to trust God, surrendering his heart and life to God; then, as a sign or symbol of his faith, he was to be circumcised. But what happened was exactly what happens so often with spiritual things: man corrupted God's purpose for circumcision. Man began to say that a person became acceptable to God not because he trusted God, but because he was circumcised.
False teachings and religions have always tended to add to Christ in order to be saved. A person could believe and trust Christ with his whole heart, surrendering all he was and everything he had to Christ, but that was not enough. The person had to do something else in order to make himself acceptable to God. False religions are always religions of adding to faith some form of works, or conditions.
2. Christianity stresses Jesus Christ and the spiritual - vs. 11(b)-12
Christianity emphasizes the circumcision of Christ, letting Christ cut away the body of sins out of our flesh.
Christianity is identifying with the risen Christ, and this identification is publicly made through baptism because of one's salvation.
Christianity is an operation of God alone. The word "operation" speaks of energy or power. Christianity is based upon God's power and ability to save and sanctify the believer.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. Why is it important for you to base your Christianity upon the Bible and not upon some outward form?
2. What happens to a person whose dependence and faith is based upon some outward form or ritual?
3. Give an example of how you quit or changed some outward form or ritual and began living according to the Scripture? How did trusting Christ help you to do this.
4. What circumstances tempt you to supply your own power in place of God's? How will you plug into God's power in the future?