“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. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the Substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16–17 ESV)
Many things will quench the Holy Spirit and grieve the Holy Spirit.“Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 ESV. We put off the fire of the Holy Spirit when we ignore the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in our midst. When we fail to operate and practice the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our church.
But also grieve the Holy Spirit, and this grieving is more about the kinds of relationships that we have within the Body of Christ. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:29–32 ESV)
We grieve the Holy Spirit when we use rotten words to speak of another or about someone. These words come from a heart full of grudges, slandering and malice. These grieve the Holy Spirit that lives in us, the Spirit that you and I were sealed with the moment we said Yes to Jesus.
Sometimes this happens within churches, with brothers and sisters that have forgotten who they are. But, still, it also happens with people who, for some reason or another, have tasted that the Lord is good and yet have allowed other not so sound doctrines to become judgemental, and they are deeply hurt because they are not given the platform, they so desire.
There is also another group of people who are not followers of Christ, and they say all kinds of judgmental things to the church of Christ.
I believe that what we have here is a mixture of the second group, people who somehow had an experience of Jesus. But, still, they demand more, they require more of other things that appear to be spiritual, but they know about Salvation. They may even accept Christ but not mature in Christ.
We saw this when we studied the letter of Galatians, and the Jews Christians were advocating that Jesus saves but to be entirely accepted and fully saved. Then, the rituals of circumcision, food laws and the keeping of the Law were as essential as the requirements of Jesus, especially for Salvation.
In Colossians, we do not have this group of Judaizers, and this Church who Epaphras planted was grown with the Gospel, meaning the only way of Salvation is to have an encounter with Jesus.
Jesus is enough! Jesus is the supreme creator, leader, and head of the church, and only in him, Salvation is found.
However, there is perhaps an element of some Jewish costumes, rituals regarding food and drink, festivals or a new moon celebration or a Sabbath. It is possible that Epaphras taught them. It would have been something that you would expect since Jesus and Paul were Jews.
However, I am inclined to see this from another point of view.
So, I want to ask this simple question:
Who is passing judgement?
Who is he, or who are they?
If the ones passing judgement are part of the fellowship, the Colossians were in great danger, and the church was a mess. We see this in the letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians!
If this is the case, then they were grieving the Holy Spirit.
Let me ask you another question:
Who placed them in possession to pass judgement on the brothers and sisters in Colossae?
As far as we know, there was a church planting team, who were faithful servants of Christ, and they were there with the blessing of the apostle Paul.
Who are they? Who put them in a place of power and authority to pass on the judgment of the church’s affairs?
Let me tell you one way that people in our churches have set themselves into a place of authority power, and they believe that they are entitled to pass judgement on the church and the people. So when you and I hear sentences like “this is my church, and we have been here for generations, or I have worked so much for the church”,. That is entitlement.
This is not your church, nor it is mine. It is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, who in this letter Paul describe as:
“And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything, he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his Cross.” (Colossians 1:17–20 ESV)
We are servants of Jesus!
Who are the ones passing judgement?
I believe that they were false teachers or who may have accepted the message of Jesus but not his Lordship. Therefore, these people were very much influenced by the rulers and authorities that Jesus came to disarm and exposed them through the Cross!
“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:15 ESV)
It is possible that these teachers were well versed in the requirements of the Law. They knew about the sabbath, food laws, festivals, new moon offering, which is not worshipping the moon! But the Lord as it was established in Numbers 28!
Their authority did not come from the Holy Spirit, nor Paul. This is why he is exposing them. But from the rulers and authorities of the spiritual world, known as demonic forces! This, Paul does!!
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5 NIV11-GKE)
To pass on judgment is to set yourself up as a divine or earthly ruler! It comes from a place of knowing best, knowing all and above the rest of us!
There is only one Judge! God.
It is fascinating to see Paul saying: “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. (Colossians 2:16 ESV)
See to it that one pass judgement on you
Why would he say that?
It could be that he understands that the false teachers are questioning the Colossian’s spirituality by pointing out the requirements of the Law as a way of measuring up to true, grounded spirituality. Which, by the way, will add with the worship of angels and other things!
These false teachers were saying Jesus is not enough!
But they were, and they are wrong!
Paul said to see to it that no one judge you. Why?
Because the fullness of God dwells in them, we are partakers of the fullness of God!
Paul reminded them of who they were!
This is the same message that he wrote to the Romans “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37–39 NIV11-GKE)
But Paul goes further!
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, concerning a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ
Why would Paul say this?
“These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16–17 ESV)
This is very important because it is here that Paul disarms the arguments of the false teachers!
“All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ.” (Colossians 2:17 MESSAGE)
In other words, Paul is saying:
“it does not matter what this false teacher says, because as you know, all the observances of dates, festivals, sabbath, food laws are just a shadow of what was to come”! They pointed to Jesus, Jesus is the real deal, Jesus is the Substance!”
These guys are hung up in the Old Covenant. Jesus is the New Covenant! When Christ came, he dispelled the shadows. If we have Christ, we have what we need to know and please God.
How do we know Christ is the Substance?
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15–17 ESV)
There is something here for us as well!
As I prayed and prepared this, the Lord kept asking me:
Dario, are you living in the shadows or live in the Substance I have given you in Christ?
Are you more concerned about how people see you, or are you more concerned about what I think of you?
You see, we Presbyterians are set on our ways, and it is very challenging for us to change!
What if God asks us this morning to have an honest look at ourselves and ask: Are we living in the Shadow of what is to come? I don’t mean that I am debunking the New Covenant! Not at all.
But we do things, and we hold to items so dear that we elevate them to a place of almost worship, but in truth, they are not! We have them as if they were essentials, but they are not, and we miss the move of God in our midst.
Let me point out something straightforward: We have a Christian calendar over the year, and some only come to those services, like Easter, Harvest, Christmas! So let me ask you, are you a shadow or a substance?
Are you becoming a shadow! I spoke to one of our members about the danger of staying cosy and watching the service stream online! This is the place of community, and this is the place of growth; this is the place wherein our collective worship come alive before the Lord.
We are called to live within the fullness of God, and that is where the Substance of God is