Colossians 2:5-10 — continued

The firmness of your faith in Christ. Just as you received Christ, live. Empty, deceiptful philosophy not according to Christ. The fullness of deity in bodily form: Christ. You have been filled in him.

(Bấm vào đây để đọc tiếng Việt)


We unexpectedly spent the entire hour reviewing the concepts we learned in last Sunday's study. Much of the discussion focused on how we can apply what we learned from this passage in our daily lives. There's a Vietnamese proverb that goes something like this: "Being near ink will stain you, but being near a lamp will light you up." This proverb saved the day when it was used to demonstrate the power of life-changing grace over the law. This will be expanded upon later.

5For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” (Colossians 2:5—NET)

Our in-class discussion revealed our proclivity to rely on our performance to demonstrate to ourselves, others, and God that we are deserving followers of Christ. We are like those who come to Christ after witnessing his great miracle of feeding thousands and ask him, “Christ, what can I do for you?”

28So then they said to him, “What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?” 29Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires – to believe in the one whom he sent.” (John 6:28-29)

We each have our own ideas about what “work” pleases God, but God has a different perspective. He only asks that you “believe” in him.

Do you have a “firm faith in Christ”? Or do you believe that simply believing in him isn’t enough and that you need to do more? This truth is unequivocally stated in Romans 11:6:

And if it is by grace, it is no longer by works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6)

Grace is only truly grace when it is received as a gift with no expectation of payment. Except perhaps a grateful attitude, a belief or trust in the person doing the giving. When you believe your faith in Christ is insufficient, you are vulnerable to deception from those who promise you more.


6Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7—NET)

We spent some more time in class debating the value of our lives while going about the mundane tasks of holding various jobs and duties that everyone in this world has. One classmate mentioned that they are constantly questioned about why they aren’t doing more for God to show their Christian faith maturation. They are pressed to do something for God in order to show their progress.

But what does the Bible have to say about maturation? We took a brief detour back to when we were studying Galatians 3:24:

Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith (Galatians 3:24).

In the verse above, the role of a guardian is described by the term “nanny.” Only a small child needs a nanny to remind them to follow rules like “brush your teeth, pack your lunch, and don’t forget to bring your homework,” and many other common rules given to small children. However, as a child grows, he or she may be subject to a different set of rules.

The preceding verse depicts the maturation process from law guardianship to being handed over to Christ. And you are related to Christ by faith, not by obeying any commandments.

In short, a truly mature person grows from reliance on the law’s guardianship to faith in Christ, where they are led by the Holy Spirit.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)

Long ago, the prophet Jeremiah predicted a day in the future when believers would no longer be led by commandments written on stone tablets, but by the Spirit of God from within:

33“But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the LORD. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people. 34“People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the LORD. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).


8Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

When believers want more than what God has ALREADY given them in the cross of Christ, they are extremely vulnerable to deception. Let us go over what we discussed in Colossians 1:

19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son22now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him – 23if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. (Colossians 1:19, 22-23)

Do you require anything more than being “holy, without blemish, and blameless” in God’s eyes? More importantly, you obtained all of this “by his physical body through death”, which means through Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s done. It’s finished. The work of preparing you for God’s kingdom has been completed. Why are you still flocking to gurus for more of what they cannot provide? In fact, all you’ll ever get from them is empty, deceptive philosophy.


9For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form.” (Colossians 2:9)

In the verse quoted above from Colossians 2:9, Christ is described as having “all the fullness of deity.” This concept is significant because it lends credence, or affirmation, to verse 10, which will be discussed further in the section below. All it means is that Jesus is Almighty God in every way. He has all the power necessary to provide you with everything you require for godliness and, hopefully, contentment (Tim 6:6).

As stated in the “EMPTY, DECEPTIVE PHILOSOPHY” section above, if you trust that “by his physical body through death” you are made “holy, without blemish, and blameless” before God, you should be content. However, many Christians find it difficult to accept that they are ALREADY holy, without blemish, and blameless before God, so they seek something more.

So when you move on to the section below, keep in mind that the “him” in verse 10 below should provide all the authority you need to claim what is promised to you.


10and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:10)

What are you supposed to be “filled” with? It is for this specific purpose that Jesus came to die on the cross: to declare you “holy, without blemish, and blameless” so that when Jesus returns, you will not be ashamed to be in his presence.

In John 16:8, Jesus described the purpose of the Holy Spirit when he comes. He would correct the world’s perspective on three critical issues: sin, righteousness, and judgment. He would explain the significance of these three terms to you. Many people, however, have different ideas about what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. They want others to believe that they can glow in the dark, that they are more special than other Christians, that they have special powers and a closer relationship with God than the rest. But Jesus had a different opinion:

8And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. (John 16:8-11)

The kind of power the Holy Spirit wants to give you is so that you can understand the meaning of “sin, righteousness, and judgement.” He didn’t promise any other kinds of powers, though he may demonstrate his power through someone at his discretion. They are the exceptions, not the rule. Many Christians are vulnerable to deception because they have a misunderstanding of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.


Many believers understandably feel the need to remind others that eventhough they have been saved by grace through faith, they need to produce fruit in keeping with their faith. The constant worrying about producing fruit leads to an atmosphere in which it almost feels like they’re put under the law all over again.

Then we used a well-known Vietnamese proverb to illustrate our point: “Being near ink will stain you, but being near a lamp will light you up.” If you thrash around in ink, or sins, you will be covered in ink, but if you simply stand near a light source, you will be illuminated.

There are also several examples in the Bible that show us how to bear fruit. Be like a tree planted near a stream of water (Jeremiah 17:7-8), keep your eyes fixed on Jesus like the Israelites who kept their eyes fixed on the bronze serpent hung on a pole in the desert to be healed of their snake bites.

Lastly, if we keep telling Peter to be careful not to sink while while he was walking on the tossing waves toward Jesus, we’re setting him up to sink, but if he is encouraged to fix his eyes on Jesus, he would be able to do the impossible.

So stop telling God’s people to bear fruit, but instead shower them with the water of the gospel, of God’s gracious gift of eternal life for them in Christ Jesus, and God’s Spirit will cause them to bear fruit.

Nghi Nguyen

- Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This is my own opinion on the topic, which does not necessarily reflect the church's theology, or beliefs of the individuals in it — Nghi Nguyen

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