Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Christian Freedom part II

Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 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.  – Colossians 2:18, 19

I would like to explore the idea of what true Christian freedom is.  This is a concept that has really caused a lot of tension within the church.  Many people have faced unnecessary judgment on others.  While on the other end, many Christians have abused the idea of freedom and used it to do whatever they want.

Because so many people have misunderstood what true Christian freedom is, it is important to know what it really means.

Yesterday I started with a history lesson about how we are set free from the law because Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, the Sabbath, and the festivals.  Today, we are going to explore more about what else we are free from.

We are free from asceticism, or some translate it, false humility.  Being a “good Christian” doesn’t mean that we need to sell our house, our car, and all of our possessions and give it to the poor.  Being a “good Christian” doesn’t mean that we need to go to some monastery or convent and take a vow of silence.

These things are completely and totally unnecessary.  The problem asceticism and false humility is that it makes our salvation about what we have done and not what Jesus has done for us.  They give us a reason to boast and puff ourselves up by saying, “I’m holier than thou, look at all of the things I have given up.  I’m really suffering for Jesus.”  I’m going to be blunt, that kind of mindset is just plain stupid, they’re only doing it to themselves.

In the next part of verse 18, some people insist on worshipping angels.  There are two ways of translating the Greek word used for angel here, the first is the spiritual being and the second translation is messenger and both are fitting here.

There are so many people who believe in angels, pray to angels, and place them above Jesus.  While angels are just as real as heaven, hell, God, and the devil; they are neither higher nor greater than God.  Paul said that even if an angel preached a different Gospel, let that angel be cursed (Galatians 1:8).  Even Satan can appear to people as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

The other translation of the word is messenger.  You know, there are a lot of people out there who are wrapped up into this pastor or that pastor.  There are a lot of famous pastors.  I can list off several very famous pastors from all different walks of Christianity.  The truth is that they are human beings and are subject to error and sin.  While it’s good to learn from their wisdom, we cannot take their word as scripture.  We must always turn to the Bible before we accept what a pastor says as truth.  Especially don’t take my word as truth without checking the Bible for yourself.  We are not to be followers of this pastor or that pastor; we are to be followers of Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:3-5).
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul said that he received a great revelation.  So great that he was given a thorn in his side from Satan to keep him humble.  Paul could have reveled in telling his great vision, oh the things Paul must have seen.  But no, Paul didn’t even speak of what his vision was.  He chose to keep that part quiet so that he wouldn’t boast in himself.

Those people who show off with their great visions may be puffing themselves up.  If that is the case, their reward will be on earth and not in heaven.  Those who puff themselves up with their great visions have their mind on the things of earth, not the things of God.  Therefore, we must check everything that anyone says, especially if they say, “I had a vision.”

Those who insist on false humility, or on following angels and messengers, who go in detail about their visions are cut off from God.  The head contains the brain, the brain controls the heart, and the heart pumps blood rich with nutrients to the rest of the body.  If a ligament is cut out of the body, it has no purpose, it has no supply of nutrients, and it will die.  We are not to be like that.

We are free from asceticism and false humility.  We don’t have to beat ourselves, live in caves, sell all our property, etc… we are free from that.

We are free from worshipping angels or messengers and those who puff themselves up with visions.  We worship God, not angels, not one certain pastor or messenger.  We have access to the same God, same Holy Spirit, and the same Jesus as the famous pastors.

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