In the epistle to the Colossians, Paul encourages the Christians who were saved by faith in Christ to remain faithful. He encourages them to not be misled by the false teachers who are creating trouble in the church.

At one point, he says they died to the “elementary principles of the world”, and they are saved and risen by Christ (2:12; 3:1), and therefore he ask why are they listening to those who would suggest they aren’t saved without following fleshly principles?

Let me ask the question to you. Have you “died” to the “elementary principles of the world”?

First, what are “the elementary principles of the world”? The things they died to are sin. Paul says to them that they died and now their life is hidden with Christ, 3:3. He then goes on to say that they are to “consider the members of your earthly body as ‘dead’ to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry…, Col. 3:5ff” This dying and death to the”elementary principles of the world” is death to sin so that they live a new life of righteousness in Christ. Paul says we Christians don’t do these things because we, “laid aside the old self with its evil practices”, Col 3:9. The “elementary principles of this world” are the things of this world where carnal men set their minds, Col. 3:2.

Second, when did it happen? When did this “lost to saved” threshold get crossed by the Colossians? The same chapter and discussion answer this question. In 2:13, Paul says, “when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive….” There is the transformation being described of going from lost to saved. The previous verse 12 shows that it happened at the moment that they got into the waters of baptism, and therein they trusted in the working of God to raise them from the dead to be alive. This teaching in Colossians 2:12 corroborates with the teaching on baptism in other passages (see Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26,27; 1 Peter 3:21). My religious friends, even family members, have learned denominational doctrines before they learned the Bible. They have been taught to believe that Jesus is the Christ, but they were taught religious error that salvation is by faith alone, something that’s contrary to what Paul or James taught, and they therefore do not understand that God’s saving grace is received at the point of baptism. They have been deceived to believe that the proper teaching on baptism (the truth can be seen in the passages I have given above) is the same as a work of the flesh, like something the Jews would teach. They don’t distinguish between Mosaic external requirements and Jesus’ requirement, Mt 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-16! Salvation is by God’s grace, we believe this, but contrary to what the denominations teach, God’s saving grace doesn’t happen with a prayer or a verbal confession of that prayer, but it happens when the repentant sinner is taken down into the water. Colossians 2:12,13, like Romans 6:3-7, and Galatians 3:26,27, makes this abundantly clear. It’s why Peter said that, as Noah saved through water, Baptism now saves you by the resurrection of Christ, 1 Pt 3:21. The modern incarnation of the Jewish teachers are the denominations that nullify simple teaching and hinder people from getting into the water by faith. See again that Colossians 2:12 and Galatians 3:26,27 shows that faith is the necessary ingredient when a person is going down into the water. Not faith in the water or in man’s work, but faith in God’s power at work to make the buried sinner to be raised and born again.

Third, what replaced those things in your life; and Fourth, Why if you have died to them do you continue to follow those who are not rooted in Christ and teach carnal things that have the appearance of religion but are worthless to saved? Paul describes what replaced the old life where men lived according to the “elementary principles of the world”, saying it’s the life of the “new self” they put on and so “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also shoul dyou. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Paul describes the new life in Christ , which is incompatible with the old life and old man that was buried with Christ in baptism, Col. 2:12.

That last point, which Paul is making in Colossians 2:8ff, especially verse 20ff, is a finger pointed at the Jewish teachers who teach a brand of Christianity that continues to emphasize the Old Law with circumcision, sabbaths, dietary rules, and etc. Since we today don’t have much of this brand of interference in the church, is there a modern incarnation of this? I believe so. Denominations and Denominationalism.

Denominations emphasize Old Testament cold tablets and cold commandments, and they emphasize the tithing and some even have carried over the “holy temple” idea so that the “church” is a building instead of people, AND they even go so far as to teach the heinous error that Jesus will come again to reestablish a physical kingdom that’s headquartered in Jerusalem. Denominations continue to teach that the Jewish nationality of people are still God’s people and that God will miraculously convert them all to believe in His Messiah. The Denominations are binding in their brand of Christianity things that are not rooted in Scripture.

Controversial to say this about Denominations? Sure, but try to find a denomination in the Bible. Colossians is a powerful reminder to be faithful to the God that saved the Colossians from sin and raised them to walk with Christ. The old man was buried with Christ in baptism and he was raised out of that baptism by the power of God who raised Christ from the dead. Now that we have been saved, not by human wisdom and human rules, but by the power of God, let’s keep walking with Christ.

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