Scripture: Read the larger context, beginning in Colossians 1:24 to 2:23.

In the passage we have been spotlighting for some days (Col.2:12), several issues stand out. One is asceticism, which is not wildly popular in an age of indulgence. But it does exist and can sneak into our lives in one of its more subtle forms.

There are many spiritual practices that can be Spirit-inspired such as fasting, simplicity, generosity, abstinence from sex or alcohol, solitude; but they can also become sources of spiritual pride. The purpose of such practices should be to weaken the flesh and heighten one’s sensitivity to the Spirit. But

Paul warns against reliance upon our self-efforts to control the flesh. The effect of living under the Law and asceticism results in us “not holding fast to the Head,” by which Paul means that we would not be depending upon Christ alone for our pleasing God.

Another topic concerns humility. Christians sometimes do have visions such as we see with Peter in Acts 10, but genuine experiences with God mark us with humility. Paul warns us against (1) false spiritual experiences, and (2) any sort of spiritual boasting about spiritual encounters.

Paul would be appalled at the American practice of “solo Christianity.” He sees us as a community, a church that lives in interdependence, holding fast to Christ as our Head with the resulting shared sense of growing up in God.

Thought Questions:

1. What are some of your personal struggles with asceticism and legalism? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. What are some of the traps you have learned to avoid? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Are you involved with the spiritual development of others in your church? _________________________________________________

4. Are you looking for opportunities to help others grow in their faith? _________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Spend some moments thanking Jesus for fulfilling every requirement of the Law on your behalf.

• By faith in Him receive His righteousness into your present needs.

• Pray for those in your church who might be lonely and feeling displaced.

• Ask God to use you in ministering to others.