Oct 1, 2017

Mature in Christ: Life Group Study 6

SPIRITUAL CONTEXT:

Given what we've already learned of them, it would be easy to cast the Colossians as simple-minded people who were gullible to any argument that would prevent them from fully embracing the Christian message.  As this passage shows us, however, their desire to cling to new teachings is rooted in real human needs.  The Colossians concerns are our concerns.

Like all Christians trying to live a life that pleases the Lord, they were wrestling with their sin.  While they heard the Cross was enough to free them from sin's power, their experience told them otherwise.  They kept sinning in heart, body, and mind, and this frustrated them.  They felt trapped by their sin, and this lead them to feel distant from God.

Into this situation came the false teachers.  They taught that, by adhering to their teachings, the Colossians could finally escape the tyranny of sin.  This is why the Colossians were so ready to believe and follow them.

LITERARY CONTEXT:

As we heard last week, the Colossian people were quite similar to us in their fears, temptations, and everyday life. They were concerned with honor (self-image), worldly powers (spiritual and human), and the struggle to live a holy life.

However, preying on these concerns, false teachers had infiltrated the church. They were spreading anti-Gospel teachings by insisting that Jesus was not enough by himself to totally defeat sin and save them, so people needed something more. What they were left with was a strange religious blend of legalism (following rules to merit God’s favor), mysticism (invoking angels for help), and asceticism (extreme self-denial). However, the Apostle Paul sets them straight by writing this letter, showing the Colossians that in Christ, God had already given them every spiritual blessing they would ever need.


Scripture | Colossians 2:16-23

  1. What were some of the things that were robbing the Colossian Christians of their joy? Can you think of parallels in Mt. Pleasant today, or in your own life?
  2. Are the items in question (food/drink, festival, new moon, Sabbath) good? Bad? Neither?
  3. How are the items in question “a shadow of things to come”/In what way does the “substance belong to Christ”? Verse 17
  4. What are ways in which we fall into legalism? Do we measure God’s love for us by how much we do? How might the “substance [belonging] to Christ” be good news for us?
  5. Do you ever feel disqualified? What makes us think we might be disqualified in God’s presence? What is Paul’s response?
  6. What does Paul identify as the cause of all these issues harming the Colossian church?
  7. Where does Paul say our growth comes from? Where is the resolution to these problems? What are some practical ways we might experience this growth?
  8. Paul uses the analogy of a body to describe the Colossian Church. What does he mean here? Why is this good news? (helpful cross-references 1 Cor 12:27, Eph. 5:23)
  9. What is the next false teaching Paul confronts?
  10. What regulations is Paul talking about? Does this mean that Christians are free from all moral rules? What is the difference between obeying rules and being legalistic?
  11. What is Paul’s criticism of the human regulations? What similar experiences/teachings might we face today? How has Jesus triumphed over them ALREADY? Where is the good news here?