Second danger & answer
5b. Complete in Christ:
The Gnostics' idea of sin and salvation was not what the Bible calls sin and salvation. To them salvation was the release of the Divine spark from within. This was achieved, in their thinking, by obtaining secret 'gnosis', and not to have that 'gnosis was the sin.
Paul in this section not only warns of its dangers, but also shows that true salvation is not what the Gnostics, or any Philosophical system, says it is. He also shows that there is nothing else to do or strive for because Jesus has completed the true work of salvation and in Christ we have a COMPLETE salvation. On new birth we receive His life and have all things necessary to live that life.
Note what Peter says. He has given us ALL things that pertain to life. All means all and that means nothing else is required. Secondly, Peter says that through these precious promises we have escaped the world's corruption. And this corruption is through lust. I Jn.2:16 The world's system is based on the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life as we pointed out earlier in this series.
Paul then goes on to describe this complete salvation: we are circumcised in Christ (Col. 2:11); we are baptised in Christ (Col.2:12-13); we are freed in Christ (Col.2:14) and finally we are victorious in Christ (Col.2:15). We shall over the course of the next several articles consider each in turn and in some detail, but here we shall paint a broad brush of these truths.
Before we look at these four things generally we shall consider this word 'complete'.
Col.2:9 that the fulness of God dwells in Christ, and that we, having received Christ, have Christ within us the hope of glory Col.1:27. Further Paul in Ephesians exhorts us to be filled with the fulness of God Eph.3:19. That is to be filled with Christ.
The implication is that if we are filled up with Christ there is no room for anything or anyone else. The further implication is that if we are seeking other things to find satisfaction and fulfilment in then we are not filled with Christ! To put it another way, if we are filled and complete in Christ why do we need to go after the vain philosophies of the world?
John's gospel was also written against the backdrop of Gnosticism, though some three or so decades after Paul. In the Gospel's preface we read that those who receive Christ have the authority to become sons of God and have received of His fulness.
Here it is stated that salvation, in the true sense of that word, is the work of God, and not of man's will or the will of the flesh. This excludes all efforts to find salvation by any other means, and that includes vain philosophy. The NT could not be clearer on this, salvation is of God and of God alone. No amount of human effort can achieve anything in this realm.
Receiving special secret gnosis won't do it. It is by receiving Him. He is the fulness, and to partake of this we need only belong to Christ, and not to any special elite group.
One brief comment of Christ being the head of the principalities and power. According to Gnostic thinking Jesus was the last emanation of the plethora. That is the lowest and furthest one away from the divine. In this short statement of Christ's headship Paul deals a hammer blow to this error and puts the record straight. Christ is the head, He is above all principalities and powers, not the last of them! This we shall consider further later on.
Lk.9:31, where the context is of Jesus and the two heavenly visitors on the Mount Transfiguration talking of the Lord's decease (=exodus). This completeness is all because of His atoning redeeming work at Calvary.
Firstly, circumcised in Christ. This picture, taking OT physical circumcision as its basis, refers to the dealings of God with the heart. As we shall see it is a picture of new birth. To come into the life of God being born from above is foundational. This alone is the work of God as seen in Jn.1:12.
Secondly, baptised into Christ. This metaphor is arguably the most common metaphor of the Christian life. It illustrates that on being born from above we are immersed into the death and resurrection life of Jesus, and all the benefits of Calvary become ours.
Thirdly, freed in Christ. New life means total freedom from our past sin and the law. We are brought into a marriage union with Christ. In so doing that we are to live in newness of life and not in the deadness of the legal letter. Our daily walk is in the Spirit and not in the works of the law.
Finally, we are victorious in Him. Not only has Jesus conquered death and sin, but also the devil and his cohorts. Thus we know that we can walk in victory over the enemy, and that nothing, not even they, can separate us from God's love.
It is also interesting to note that this fourfold completeness in Christ corresponds to the progressive revelation of the gospel as laid out by Paul in Romans.
1. Circumcised in Christ Col.2:11 (corresponding to Rom.1:1-5:11)
2. Baptised in Christ Col.2:12-13 (corresponding to Rom.5:12-6:23)
3. Freed in Christ Col.2:14 (corresponding to Rom.7:1-8:13)
4. Victorious in Christ Col.2:15 (corresponding to Rom.8:14-39)