Hold Fast to the Head
Christian liberty is a blessing to be cherished and guarded with diligence. It is also something easily misunderstood. Be certain of this: There is no liberty to commit sin and deeds of immorality, and the Church has always had those who so teach (Revelation 2:20). Paul is clear that we are not to misuse our freedom in Christ for sins of the flesh (Galatians 5:13-21).
But there is another misuse of Christian freedom. We saw it in Galatians where Jewish Christians were insisting that their Gentile brethren be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. Paul had no issue with circumcision per se and even circumcised young Timothy that there would be no offense preaching the gospel among Jews (Acts 16:1-3). On other hand, he would not force Titus to be circumcised if he declined (Galatians 2:3). Though Paul would not have people enter pagan temples (1 Corinthians 10) and certainly did not approve of gluttony, he did not quibble over a believer’s diet (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8).
Though scholars debate the origin of the heresy in Colossae and exactly who was propounding it (Jews or Gentiles), we have yet another attempt to rob Christians of their freedom in Christ Jesus. Paul is clear: Don’t let people judge you about what you should eat or what festival or holy day you should observe. Asceticism, long a part of the Christian tradition and perhaps understood here as excessive fasting and refraining from other innocent pleasures (2:21), is not required to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. Paul then speaks of some other practices of these disturbers of the Christian’s peace which make it clear that they had no truck with the faith: Worship of angels? Chasing after visions? Not only is this idolatry (in no place does an angel in Scripture command worship; indeed, always the opposite), but Paul tells us that such “works of humility” are indeed the product of “sensuous minds” always seeking something else, something more that places them just a notch above “ordinary and run of the mill” believers who do not avail themselves of the same standards of rigor.
But what is the graver sin these false teachers are committing? Not holding fast to the Head! Paul says, “These [matters the false teachers are pushing] are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” The Book of Hebrews speaks much to this very topic, but suffice it to say that in Christ the Christian has all he needs. Hold fast to Christ and the teachings of the apostles and prophets. And let no one deceive you.