Today I am in Portugal. I had a great weekend with several churches here. I am always blessed to be with my Christ Life family in Portugal. This week I will be preparing resource training material for the future steps of New Covenant Life and Grace for the Portuguese speaking people. I believe this will be a fruitful week.
Colossians 2: 16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
In this letter to the church of Colossians, Paul was dealing with people who are wrestling between law and promiscuity. How do I know? Paul was an apostle to gentiles, which meant the people he was sent to had no understanding of law so anything was allowed in their lives. Paul was bringing those people who believed that anything was ok into the reality of being children of God. His desire was to lead them into an intimate relationship with God and not a false security of adherence to the dead ways of law and legalism. God chose a man who was qualified to put them under the law. He was the best at keeping the law. Paul was formerly Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee of Pharisees. Saul was an expert at keeping the law. He was the one who was killing those who were a blemish to the law. When he was persecuting the church, he wasn’t a deranged psychotic. He wasn’t a terrible, vile, wicked man. He was a godly man who had given his entire life to obey God. Jewish people were embracing Jesus faith. They were being empowered by grace and they were bold enough to say Jesus was the way. Saul measured them by what he knew. He passed a judgment on them. His judgement was that those of the sect of faith in Jesus were wrong! Saul’s thinking was likely: If you believe what these people are saying they will lead you into deception. They will lead you into death. God, I love you so much I am going to kill theses deceivers. The law says that if a prophet comes and gives you a sign or a wonder and it comes to pass but it leads you after another god, you shall not listen to that prophet or the dreamer of dreams but you shall kill that prophet with rocks (Deut. 13:1-5). Saul of Tarsus was obeying the Scripture to the best of his human knowledge when he was persecuting the church. In his mind, he was right and they were wrong! He was the light and they were the darkness. He was passionate and he was out to kill what was wrong.
There are people groups on earth right now that are living with the same passion. Clearly Islam in its extremity is out to destroy the infidels. They are out to remove what is wrong. They are not serial killers. They are not psychopaths. It is not that they don’t like you. They are trying to save the world. It is not a matter of you leaving them alone. It is a matter of you demonstrating what life looks like, and their rejection of what life can be without law. Although the physical killing of others is horrendous, there are ways of killing people spiritually. There are ways of killing people with the attitudes of our hearts, the words of our mouths, and the actions of our lives towards them. There are even Christians that do these things.
Grace and mercy torment those who hold on to the law. Where law is, there is no way out without mercy. Mercy lives where law remains and only mercy ends law. Without mercy, you cannot live in grace, but grace does not live where law lives and law does not live where grace lives. Only those who live in grace can give mercy to those who live in law, so they too can find grace – a place where law does not live. All things are lawful, but a revelation comes concerning what is helpful and beneficial.
There are places that I go in the world where I am opposed by good people who see my beliefs as detrimental to their beliefs. They pray against my meetings. The bind me up and seek to cast me out of their cities. I hope they pray in tongues. Maybe they do, because I still go to their cities where they have prayer meetings against me. They pray because they want to be people of law. They are not wicked or evil, they are simply right in their minds and in their minds I am wrong.
What is my posture? I cannot become a person of law against them. I must say, Jesus is being preached even if their motive is wrong. Jesus is being preached! It is not my job to change them. It is my job to be a person of light. It is my job to be life. We must be people of life.
Colossians 2:16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
This is wat these verses DO NOT say: If anyone seeks to judge you in regard to what you eat or drink, if anyone seeks to judge you in regard to keeping festivals or not, be sure you judge them for trying to make you do these things. Be sure you judge them for keeping these things in their lives. Be sure to get into a big debate with them and argue with them as to how they are wrong and how you are right. That will reap great fruit for you!
Do not let what anyone does to you or says about you change who you really are. If they don’t know Christ yet, they are simply practicing things that are not the truth of HIM. If they say they know Christ, but they act with religious legalism against you, they are simply bound to a limited understanding of grace. Things established by law are simply a subtle substitute for the real thing. I promise the substitute will never satisfy! We must demonstrate what it looks like to be satisfied. People are not stupid. When one lives in darkness they can pretend it is light, but when light shines to the darkness it is recognized. We cannot put darkness out, it is already dark. We cannot kill death, it is already dead. All we can do is be life. Life transforms death to a testimony of life! The verse is not given to believers so they can justify a new way of living. It is given to believers so we can live and shine. It is not given to believers so we can debate with others who don’t live there yet. It is given to believers so we can shine as a light to those who are not there yet. It is not because we are better than those who are not there yet. We simply have a revelation. God did it! And God can do it for them too!
Ted J. Hanson