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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Review: Sufficiency of Christ. Define sufficiency

 

What has been emphasized as we have been going through Colossians is the theme of the epistle, which is that Jesus Christ is all sufficient. He is enough, more than enough; He has supplied us with everything that we need; nothing is left out. The whole idea in sufficiency is that we don't need to rely upon anything other than Jesus Christ for salvation and for what we need in the spiritual life. But there are always those who come along and say that we need something else: how can the cross be enough, don't we need to do something? No, we don't; because if we add anything to the purity of what Christ did on the cross then that dilutes it and, in fact, destroys it. As Paul says in Galatians chapter one this really makes it another gospel of a different kind—categorically different. If we add anything to faith—faith plus morality, faith plus church membership, faith plus baptism, faith plus circumcision, faith plus obeying the Mosaic Law, faith plus anything—it destroys the fact that Jesus, and Jesus alone, pays all that is needed for sin.

The attack that we get, both from the internal enemy of our sin nature and the external enemy of Satan in the world system, is always on the sufficiency of Christ. This is always the point of attack, In one manifestation or another it always comes down to that. Part of sufficiency is this claim that we have in Scripture that God is the exclusive solution, because sufficiency and exclusivity go hand in hand. He not only gave us everything but He said that the only way to do it is to let Him do everything.

In review, first of all the central issue in Colossians is the sufficiency of Christ. This is why Paul is writing Colossians and emphasizes in the first chapter through to chapter 2 verse 3. That is the whole introduction. The central issue that the Colossian believers are facing is a challenge to the sufficiency of Christ. Sufficiency when defined means that Christ is enough, that He supplies all that we need and we need not look elsewhere for solutions to life's problems. Now there are some problems in life that are not spiritual in one sense. We may have cancer or some other physiological disease or malfunction. How we handle that as a physical problem is through medicine, medication, through a physician, but how we face that challenge mentally is based upon the Word of God.

Sufficiency is a term that is used to describe God's revelation. We don't need any more revelation; God has given us everything we need. We just need to know His Word better so we know how to implement what He has provided. It is His instruction to us about everything in life. We may have a problem and just through reading the Bible can't figure out where it addresses this particular problem. Well we are not thinking deeply enough, we are not probing enough into His Word to figure that out. That is what God wants us to do. If God gave us a recipe book for life then we would just go pull it off the shelf like we do a systematic theology, look at the index, go to page 32, get the answer and put it back on the shelf and ignore the rest of it until the next problem came up. God gave us the kind of revelation that forces us to constantly in it, to think about it, to reflect upon it, and under the power of God the Holy Spirit as we probe into it and reflect upon it then God makes clear to us the solution to our problem.

So God's revelation is sufficient. His grace is sufficient. There is no sin that you or I can commit that is too great for the grace of God. There is no sin that we can commit that God didn't know about in eternity past, no sin that we can commit that slipped through the cracks. God's grace provided a complete and perfect salvation and He provides a perfect spiritual life. And His provision for the spiritual life is sufficient.    We shouldn't just think of the spiritual life as our fellowship with God, it impacts horizontally every issue that we face in life.  

The second thing that has been emphasized is that His sufficiency is always related to the exclusive authority of God. So when someone rejects sufficiency what they are doing is rejecting the exclusivity of God. This is exemplified from the beginning by Lucifer. His thinking manifested two basic elements. The first is autonomy, self-sufficiency, independence from God; he became a law unto himself. Whenever someone becomes self-sufficient or a law unto himself there is always somebody out there to challenge and say he is wrong, and that always generates hostility and antagonism. So we have these two elements that characterize the thinking of Satan: autonomy and antagonism. Autonomy emphasizes self-sufficiency: I am a law unto myself. It is literally the "self-law" in the Greek and it indicates the idea that I am sufficient unto myself, I don't need anything else. This is part of arrogance and fits within the arrogance complex of sins-self-absorption, self-indulgence, self-justification, self-deception, and then self deification. This was exemplified in Satan; he wants to be God. We do too in our sin natures. The problem Satan missed when he tempted Eve and then Adam fell in his sin was that instead of crating little loyal, subservient creatures to himself he was creating competition. It wasn't just Satan wanting to be God, now Eve wanted to be God and Adam wanted to be God; and once they began to multiply there was a lot of competition. Now we have six or seven billion people who want to be God.

Antagonism, then, becomes hostility to God because God says it is not about you, it is about me and about my plan. Because I am on the only one who is omnipotent and omniscient and the only one who is able to put together a perfect plan, and your plan won't work. As soon as the creature hears that his plan is incomplete, insufficient and won't work then he reacts in anger.

God's plan and Hs assertion of His authority is a function of both His justice and Hs grace. It is a function of His justice because God is the judge of all the earth and He must do that which is right within truth. And it is His grace because God in grace will give the creature the opportunity to change his mind. We don't know how this functioned in the pre-historic angelic conflict but it did in some way, and it is not for us to speculate because we just do not have enough information to form any kind of opinion.

So Satan decides he is going to win this little contest and when God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden of Eden he appears and begins by seducing Eve in the garden with an appeal that is an attack on God's authority, His sufficiency and His truth. He does it in a subtle way. He simply says, "Did God really say you can't eat from all the fruit in the garden?" Just asking that question suddenly directed her thinking down the wrong path, and he is already leading her in the direction to question and challenge the sufficiency of God and the veracity of His revelation. That led her in her disobedience to God. She ate of the fruit, enticed her husband and he ate of the fruit, and what we learn from this is that all creature-based thought systems—religions, philosophies, or whatever we call them—ultimately become, and are modelled upon, Satan's thinking.

This is something that we don't think enough about. All thought systems, all religious systems, all philosophical systems that reject the sufficiency of Scripture are basically built on those two aspects of autonomy and antagonism to God. Where did that come from? It came from Satan. That means the thinking that he followed in the garden—literally we see this: she is Satan influenced, even when the serpent isn't there when Adam comes along and she says, Look, I'm fine; I didn't die; eat—is Satan influence. But it is indirect; it is being mediated through her. So any thought system that we buy into that is contrary to God and rejects sufficiency and the exclusivity of God is a Satan influenced system; it is demonic influence. We want to take demonic influence and say that represents a specific extreme form of evil, but what Scripture says is that it represents any way of thinking that denies the sufficiency of God's provision for us. And all human thought systems, even though they may be comprised of a lot of moral good, all derive from this foundation of Satan's thought. All Satanic thought is built on autonomy and antagonism to God; it is all Satanic and demonic influence. In more extreme cases, then, false religions and philosophies entail direct Satanic or demonic influence.

Most of what we get is indirect; it is not because there is a direct involvement of Satan or demons. But in the Old and New Testaments there is a recognition that there is a direct demonic influence and this came through false religions that worshipped false gods and idols. In the Old Testament this is alluded to in Deuteronomy 32:15-19 NASB "But Jeshurun [Israel in right relationship to God] grew fat and kicked— You are grown fat, thick, and sleek— Then he forsook God who made him, And scorned the Rock of his salvation." As Israel became self-sufficient she failed the prosperity test and rebelled against God. That term "Rock" indicates not just a physical stone but that He is our total, exclusive defence, that exclusive foundation of stability that only God can provide. Israel rejected God as the source of stability and the source of happiness in life, and what did they do? Whenever we reject God and His sufficiency we substitute it with something else. We depend on something else, we seek somewhere else for stability and happiness and for meaning in life. "They made Him jealous with strange {gods;} With abominations they provoked Him to anger." The word "abominations" is always related to idolatry. "They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New {gods} who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread." They are worshipping foreign gods, idols. "You neglected the Rock who begot you, And forgot the God who gave you birth. "The LORD saw {this,} and spurned {them} Because of the provocation of His sons and daughters."

1 Cor 10:19, 20 NASB "What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? {No,} but {I say} that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons." What Paul is saying is that there is a genuine spiritual person behind that, and it is not just worshipping idols and wood and stone but there is an evil personage behind it.

We see this allusion to demonic forces and powers three times in Colossians chapter two. In verse 15 we are told that one of the consequences of the cross is that Christ disarmed principalities and powers—a phrase that refers to the hierarchical authority structure of the demonic forces. In the pagan realities of the Greco-Roman world there was a real fear of these evil forces. And what Paul is saying is that there is nothing to be afraid about because everything has been solved now because of what Christ did on the cross. So in Colossians 2:8 he says, NASB "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." When he brings this to a conclusion in verse 20 he says, "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world …" When we trust in Christ there is a break that occurs in relation to demonic thought. Before we are saved we can only think according to demonic thought, there is no alternative because we are unregenerate and the unregenerate man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God because they are spiritually discerned. The thought may be moral, it may feel good, but it is contrary to God's Word; it follows the basic thought system of Satan.

There are religious systems out there that have the right ingredients but they don't have the right proportions and it is not right. The point is that a system of human thought can have good ingredients but if they are not put together correctly according to God's revelation it is not right, it is not truth. You have to not only have all the right ingredients but they have to be put together right and then you have to follow the right directions. You can't say, I think, I feel that maybe I should add this—have some sort of intuitive insight and change something. If you have had experience as a cook baking bread you can come long and say we could add a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And it works; it tastes great; but is it that recipe's loaf of bread? No, not anymore; you have changed the ingredients. That is what happens with a lot of people. They say they have Christianity, God spoke to them! Now they have added something. It may look like Christianity and it may have a lot of the same elements but it is not Christianity anymore because of their intuitive, mystical insight and their adding something that wasn't from the text; it was not part of the recipe. It may look, act and smell a lot like Christianity but it is not anymore. It may work for you and solve your problems and make you feel good about life, but it is not biblical Christianity, it is just pseudo-Christianity.

This is the kind of thing that was happening in the early church and it happens today. In the early church they took out their blender and mixed up a lot of ideas from different religions—dietary regulations, observance of feasts days, emphasis on pseudo-humility, the worship of angels, and they emphasized different visions. Colossians 2:18 NASB "Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on {visions} he has seen…" – intruding on things that have not been revealed. That phrase relates to looking to visions and bringing in additional insights. What they were emphasizing in Colosse was all these external rules and a lot of this came from mystical insights and so now there was a problem in the church because of Paul's teaching outside of the church—worldliness. It infiltrated the church and now there was a problem with people who were Christians trying to live the Christian life on the basis of Satan influenced, demonic influenced teaching.

Today we have something similar. We have this emphasis on human intellectual autonomy coming out of the Enlightenment that we can find truth without revelation. That has led to in science to the Darwinist theory of evolution. In terms of personal emotional health through Sigmund Freud it has developed into psychotherapy. Others who just see the pain and the horror of life opt for drugs or alcohol or something else to anaesthetize them to the pains of life. Also in the nineteenth century there was the development of sociology—that we can analyse human social interaction and come up with eternal principles. These are now applied to the church in large ways. A recent book by Paul Smith called New Evangelicalism points out just how much of the thinking in the church growth movement came from unbelievers. The money to fund this came from unbelievers. If we go out there today in this ecumenical church growth movement it is possible to go from big church to big church to big church where there are Lutheran, Presbyterian, Charismatic, whatever; they sing the same songs, they have the same kind of worship, all of this because they are all feeding at the same "purpose driven" feed trough. And there are hundreds and thousands of churches who have signed contracts with Rick Warren and the purpose driven church mould to do everything exactly the same way that he did it. So we have these same kind of things going on today.

We have the introduction of socialism, Marxism and statism within Christian circles. We have the introduction of social engineering that is going on outside the church, but we know from history that these ideas from outside the church always infiltrate the church. The more these ideas come in the more it changes the orientation of what is called evangelical Christianity, so that we are no longer dependent upon the sufficiency of God's Word. We are in serious trouble.

Paul says the problem they had in Colosse was that they were not holding fast to the head, which is Christ. Holding fast is a picture of sufficiency. He is the one from whom they gain direction and nutrition. He is the one who provides the nourishment for the body. Colossians 2:19 NASB "and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God." It grows with the increase that is from God. The emphasis here is on the fact that it is God who is the one who supplies the nourishment and the strength and the growth for the local church. The Greek could possibly be better communicated if it is translated that the body grows as God causes it to grow. Growth comes from God. Growth doesn't come because you have got the right formula, because you've gone out and bought into the "purpose-driven" model or some other model. Growth comes from God because you are dependent upon His Word and you are implementing what God's Word says and are totally dependent upon the sufficiency of Christ. That is the point of those verses.