Colossians, Lord's Sabbaths & Feasts have been abolished? Part 3
So if God’s law is not the problem, then what was the problem? Ezekiel implies that the problem is with us and our stony heart. The writer of Hebrews agrees:
Hebrews 8:8 For finding fault with them (fault with them, not the "law of God"), he says, “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—
So what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant?
1. The Holy Spirit is a witness that the New Covenant has succeeded in the Law being written upon our heart (Jeremiah 31:31, 33, Hebrews 10:15-16)
2. The Holy Spirit was sent into the earth to teach us the TRUTH of God (John 14:16-17, 26, 15:26, John 16:13)
3. So what is the TRUTH? God's Law of God IS TRUTH. (Is truth is present tense, not WAS truth) (Psalm 119:142, John 17:17)
4. God wanted to write His law (all of it, not just some of it) upon our heart and teach us His law, which is called "TRUTH" (Psalm 119:142) through His Holy Spirit who is called "THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH" (John 14:16-17,26, 15:26, 16:13)
5. We need God's Spirit within us for the following three reasons:
1) Have the power to overcome the sin nature inherited by Adam
2) To bear spiritual fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-25)
3) To understand, grow, and have a revelation of God's Law and His Word The law was already perfect (i.e. Ps 19:7).
God is certainly not in the business of fixing what is not broken. We shouldn’t be in that business either, lest we be accused of adding to or subtracting from God’s Word (Deut. 4:2/Deut. 12:32). What changed in the New Testament is our heart in relation to God’s law, not God’s law itself, just like prophecy said was to happen. That should be enough to prove that the “handwritings or ordinances” in verse 14 is simply the record of our sin against the law of God. Thus it is our sin that was nailed to the cross, not God’s law. Anyone that has been a believer for more than a couple hours should already know this. In other words, this is not saying anything different that what we already know. Jesus took away our sin, not God’s law. In Colossians 2 verse 15, Paul mentions something else that Jesus accomplished, which was making a public spectacle of the dominant leadership of the day.
Colossians 2:15 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
He proved their falsehood (their manmade traditions, commandments of men, and principles of the world) and triumphed over them (such as the Pharisees/Sadducees/etc)(Mark 7; Matthew 23). That was the whole point of His ministry, to fully preach and explain God’s already existing law, not destroy it or put and end to it (Matthew 5:17-19). The majority in power did not listen to Jesus. They ignored him. They mocked Him. They were an “adulterous generation.” But Jesus said He was going to give a sign that would prove that He was legit.
Matthew 12:39-40 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
When Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected 3 days later it was proof that Jesus was who He said He was, and that walking the Law of Moses like He walked was the true way to walk it. Which also means that the way that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other misguided Jewish sects were walking were in error, like Jesus taught in Mark 7 and Matthew 23, not in the way God’s law intended. If the handwritings of ordinances are God's law and nailed to the cross then we have at least three serious problems that we can not scripturally explain.
1) Problem #1 It would force God's law to be against us and contrary to us. The reality is actually the opposite. Our man made doctrines, teachings, and fleshy ways are against God's law. God offered His law as freedom (i.e.Psalm 119:45) and as a means to blessings (Deut. 11:26-29). It is difficult to conclude how freedom and blessings are against us. If freedom and blessings are not against us then Paul must have meant something else in reference to the "handwritings of ordinances." It is our record of sin (breaking God’s law) that is against us and results in the curse (Deut. 11:28-29). Did Jesus take away or our sin on the cross or the means to define sin (1 John 3:4)(Law of God)? If Jesus abolished God’s law then defining sin is impossible since sin is defined as breaking God’s law. It is not God’s law that is against us, but us that is against the law of God when places us under the curse.
2) Problem #2 Jesus made a public spectacle of these ordinances and triumphed over them. Since when does God have to triumph and make a public spectacle of His own law and does that even make sense?
Is God going to give His people His perfect, holy, just, freedom giving law and then intentionally make a public mockery of it? It should seem fairly certain tat God does not offer us instructions, call them perfect, and then publically mock them as He nails them to the cross.
According to Jesus in Mark 7, it is the commandments and traditions of men that are contrary to what was written by Moses, that is sin. Since the "commandments of men" are clearly the root cause of all of the doctrinal issues of the Colossians, Paul chooses to mention that Jesus abolished all of these things, the ways of the world, on the cross by proving them all false. Only God’s ways are true, and are the way of Truth.
Paul was in the habit of testing everything to scripture and taught others the same. How many of us have considered that the only scripture they had to test Paul and other teachers against was actually the Old Testament? That puts things into a whole new perspective doesn’t it? How much doctrine do you test to the Old Testament? That is what the Bereans did (Acts 17:11)
3) Problem #3 The context of Colossians 2 is focused on problems rooted in "commandments of men (verse 22)" and "traditions and rudiments of the world (verse 5)." If it is the commandments and traditions of men that Paul is clearly stating as the problem then why would Paul teach us that Y’shua (Jesus) took away the "law of God" as a solution? That is very awkward as it does not even logically follow. Clearly the established context is retained and this theme continues through the end of chapter 2. This leads us to the other verse in Colossians 2 that we need to cover in detail.
Col 2:16-17 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Paul states that the Colossians should not let themselves be judged for their observation of the Feast days or Sabbath day in respect to "food and drink." What does food and drink have to do with anything?
We will discuss that in a moment, but first, a question. What is one immediate reason we should conclude that Paul is teaching that they should continue keeping God’s commandments? One reason that Paul gives is because all of these have prophetic teaching value (verse 17). God ordained these days, the sabbaths and the feast days, for specific reasons, which was to help us understand God and His ways better, what He did, and what is to come. Paul states that the Sabbath and Feast days are still a shadow of things to come (17).
As believers we are even still striving to enter the rest that the Sabbath represents (Hebrews 4). Prophetically, the Sabbath rest for believers happens later, and the Sabbath commandment teaches us and points to that.
The feast days retain prophetic and teaching value as well, just as Paul said. Put simply the Spring Feasts help us remember what He did on the cross, and the Fall Feasts remind us that He is coming back.
This is just one valuable component of God's law Paul notes so that we do not abolish God's Sabbath and Feast Days. To Paul’s point, we just don’t throw away the practicing of God’s commandments that are intended to teach us such important matters when we observe them.
We are to keep the Lord's feast days as both Paul and Jesus did as our examples (1 Cor. 11:1). So let’s do some detective work. Let’s figure out who would be falsely teaching the Colossians to throw God’s feast days and Sabbath’s into the trashcan. We still need to answer What group of false teachers were telling the Colossians to not keep the Lord's Sabbath and Feast days? Remember, the context of these false teachings is the traditions of men, the influence of false religious practices, and the principles of the world. Verse 18 gives it away:
Col.2:18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
The Jewish Gnostic sect believed in practicing the worship of angels. This group was a massive problem in the first century and even beyond. They believed they had special knowledge which granted them salvation (“things he has not seen.”) They had false humility and would boast about converting others to their doctrine. And lastly, as it relates to Paul’s letter, they did not believe that Jesus came in the flesh, which cancels His redemptive power of His blood.
This is why John even calls them antichrists (1 John 4:3). This is why Paul focused so much on the gospel in chapter 1, and even His redemptive blood (Col 1:14) to set his foundation for his arguments in chapter 2. In fact, in verse 1:14 he stresses the importance of the redemptive power of Christ for this reason.
Now, about the “food and drink.” (Col. 2:16) Why does Paul specifically mention "food and drink" in relations to God's Holy days? What in the world does that have to do with the feast days and being judged by these false teachers? The doctrine of the Jewish Gnostics mocked the feast days, as they spiritualized nearly every physical part of the law away. They were against all things physical, which included "food and drink."
That sounds just too absurd doesn’t it? Who would be against food and drink? This is standard Gnostic doctrine. Later in this study we will consult Christian scholarly research on this group that will validate this, and even offer more detail about the Gnostics that brings clarity to why Paul wrote what he did. They were even against marriage as well, and Paul even speaks of this same group in 1 Timothy 4. Their supposed “secret knowledge” appealed to the pride of men. The Gnostics were harshly judging the Colossians for keeping the Sabbaths and Feast Days in respect to matters of food and drink (verse 16). This why Paul states the Sabbath and Feast days still have prophetic value. They are not to be done away with.
This is why in chapter 1 Paul focuses on wisdom for good works –which are God's commandments, not commandments of men. Nowhere in Scripture does God speak negatively about food or drink as it relates to the feast days and sabbaths....the Gnostics taught against food and drink as it relates to the Feast Days and Sabbaths... Paul also makes it a point to mention that God is the head of all creation. He has to make this point because the Gnostics raise angels (who are part of creation) above God. In verse 2:18, we learn that the group that is corrupting the Colossians worships angels, another dead giveaway that the problem at hand is Gnostic doctrine.
There are several other clues, but those are the most blatant ones that most Biblical scholar's point out as evidence. Many make the error here that the Pharisees are coming in, forcing the Colossians to keep the feasts, and thus Paul is refuting them. They need to say this because they know that the Pharisees lobbied for God’s Feast days and Sabbaths and they need Paul to be against those things. The problem is this, scholar’s know that it is the Jewish Gnostics in context here, but for verse 16 only they claim the context is now the Pharisees, that way they can choose who Paul is against.
In such a scenerio, supposedly Paul is teaching the Colossians to not let themselves be judged for not keeping the feast days and Sabbaths...
There are several significant problems with this understanding: Since when did the Pharisees deny that Jesus came in the flesh? They didn't. When did the Pharisees start worshipping angels? They didn't. So how then can we state that these are Pharisees compelling the Colossians to keep the Lord's Sabbath and Feast days when they were not even there? We can't. Wrong doctrine. Wrong Jewish sect.
This is precisely why the questions were asked in the beginning of the study that forced a reader to examine the context and groups involved in the false doctrine the Colossians were facing. If that is not established and determined up front, then one has license to inject their own debate and thus their own conclusion. We might even conclude that we are dealing with Pharisee doctrine instead of Gnostic doctrine, when in fact these two groups were on opposite ends of the spectrum in their practice, or lack there of, of God’s Sabbaths and Feast days. Also, Why does Paul speak to the significance and value of the Feasts and how they all relate to Christ after he stated to not let ourselves be judged? Good question right?
Perhaps it is because Paul is building a case for keeping the feast by appealing to their ongoing prophetic value. The reason Paul states that they still have prophetic value and are types of Christ is because the fall feasts (the days of Trumpets, Atonement, & Tabernacles) are yet to be fulfilled as foreshadowed.
Continued in Part 4
Article courtesy of 119 Ministries