Sermon – How to Make a Fake Christian (Colossians 2:13 – 2:23) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Colossians 2023

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Sermon 10 of 16

How to Make a Fake Christian

Pete Woodcock, Colossians 2:13 - 2:23, 3 December 2023

Today, we continue our series in the book of Colossians, and Pete takes us through Colossians 2:13–23. In this passage, Paul warns his readers against adding legalism, mysticism, and asceticism to the gospel of Christ, emphasising that such additions shift the focus from Jesus to our own performance. If these additions are dangerous, how then are we to grow and mature as Christians?

Colossians 2:13 - 2:23

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Father, we thank you that you are so worthy of our praise.

And we're sorry that that so often our thinking and our speech is more often marked by grumbling and by complaining and by discontent and by frustration and we're sorry lord that we just do not have as we ought this joy springing out and flowing out of our hearts and yet we have every reason to rejoice and to praise you. You are our creator. You are our sustainer. And in the lord Jesus, you are our savior. And we thank you that because of him, we can rejoice in the hope of glory.

We thank you too for your word, lord. And we again, we're sorry that we just take this word for granted sometimes, and we do not rejoice that we can hold the living breath of the spirit of god in our hands, which is everything we need to be wise to salvation and to grow in godliness. As we turn to it now and hear it read, please, lord speak to us. Help us to rejoice that we can even have these words in front of us in Jesus' name. Our men.

Well, please do have a seat and, we're going to, read read the Bible together now and we're going to be reading from colossians 2 and we're we're gonna just read from verses 13 through to the end of the chapter. So I think it says 6 on the screen there, but we're just gonna jump straight in at verse 13 and read to 23. We'll then sing after that reading and then we'll hear god's word preach to us. So colossians 2 verse 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all of our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness which stood against us and condemned us.

He has taken it away nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities. He made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross. 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. These are a shadow of the things that were to come.

The reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delight in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen. They are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head from whom the whole body supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews grows as god causes it to grow.

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world. Why as though you still belong to the world, do you submit to its rules? Do not handle. Do not taste. Do not touch.

These rules which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use. Are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom. With their self imposed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value. In restraining, sensual indulgent.

Let's pray. Father, help us now as we look at this passage together, please speak to us. Please challenge us where we need challenging, rebuke us, where we need rebuking, remake us, help us repent that we may love Jesus more. That's that's our intent here. We wanna know more about him and love him more.

We want to, get rid of our sin that we may be free to praise the living Jesus and our great father and the Holy Spirit. So help us now. We pray in Jesus' name, amen. Well, it's December, and as you know, Christmas is coming, And so it's time for some of us, and we love doing this, getting the old recipe books out. Do you do that?

Get the old recipe books out and you're going to make those very special Christmas, you know, treats that we we love so much and we we bring them around. So I thought I would share with you an old recipe. It's originally called How to Make a Christian and it's subtitled the real spiritual person. Bear with me, with this. I've got some slides.

I don't normally have. Bear with me with this because I really enjoyed writing this. Okay. So go along with me for a little bit. I won't read it all out.

Let's, if we can get them up if they're gonna work. So This is the ingredients. Now all these ingredients come from colossians 2. You'll see that as we go through in a minute. There are 3 main parts to this recipe in how to make a Christian or, a real spiritual person.

There's the legalistic base. There's the mystical filling and there's the aesthetic topping. Let me just take you through some of the stuff. I won't go through all of it. But the legalistic base, you gotta make that first.

You need 2 cups of strict law and and regulations. You need 1 cup of rigid beliefs and you need 3 teaspoonfuls of judgmental attitude. Now watch that. They need to be level teaspoonfuls because that bubbles up very quickly. The, mystical filling, you need 1 cup of contemplative prayer, 2 tablespoons of spiritual curiosity and 1 a teaspoon full of openness to mystery, I did forget in the older books, you don't have this because I think they knew it.

In the newer books, you need a big sort of dollop of of gullibility. Thrown in there mixed in. And then aesthetic topping, you want 1 cup of intentional simplicity, 3 tablespoons of self denial, and 1 teaspoonful of detachment from material possessions. Now, this is what you do. This is how you mix it together.

It should be the next slide. Yeah, there it is. With the legalistic base, you start with everything clean, obviously, your heart and your mind, mixed the strict rules and regulations, with rigid beliefs in a large bowl, allow the judgmental attitudes to dissolve in the mixture, knead the dough of legalism until it forms a firm and rigid foundation. Then you set that aside and then you get on with the mystical feeling, in a separate bowl combine the contemplative prayer with spiritual curiosity, stir gently to create an atmosphere of openness and wonder, slowly pour the mystical blend over the legalistic foundation allowing it to seep into the cracks and crevices of, the rigid beliefs, let the mix just sit for a while, allowing the mystical blend to infuse in a sense of awe and reverence than just the last 1. The aesthetic topping gradually fold intentional simplicity into the dough, ensuring it incorporates everywhere, sprinkled self denial over the mixture and then add a dash of, and so it goes on.

And then you can see the baking on the next 1. You need, 350 degree faith. So, and but the last 1 I just wanted to show you, the last 1, I I love doing this. I'm sorry. The last 1 is, is the serving suggestions, garnish the dish with full humility and pretend compassion.

That's really important. And then serve on a beautiful plates of Jesus Christ. That's got, of course, making a Christian, but other religious leaders can be used if you want to make another religion. How to make a Christian? You can turn that off now.

I hope you bear with me on that. Can you make a Christian that way? Can you make a Christian that way? Not very convinced, are you? You're not sure what I'm gonna say.

Everything's different about Pete at the moment. What's going on here? Not sure. Well, when I put it like that, when I put the recipe like that, it's obviously not right, isn't it? And yet, This is the interesting thing.

All those ingredients as I say come from colossians chapter 2. They're all things that Paul actually warns us about in how to make a Christian or a spiritual person. So, therefore, they are tempting. These are tempting and they are tasting ingredients. And they've been brought into the church at Colosi by false by false preachers and false teachers, but they are tempting.

Otherwise, he wouldn't have written this. And it seems that part of our sinful nature is drawn to the flavor and the smell of these ingredients. So Paul gives us very strong warning about these ingredients verse 8 of of colossians chapter 2. We didn't read it because everything seemed to be going a bit wrong. But verse 8 says this, see to it that no 1 make takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

There are people gonna take you captive by these ingredients. So watch it. See to it. Be careful. And then he concludes a long section and this is why we're doing 1 sermon on this.

A long section on all of these false ingredients He concludes it at the end of verse 23 of that chapter. They lack any value in restraining central indulgence. They're hollow, he says, they're empty, and yet they're seductive, they're tasty. And so we need to examine ourselves to see whether we are putting these ingredients into our Christianity because Paul's saying, I don't want any of this in our Christianity. I don't want it in the church.

So listen for people that are calling out for these ingredients. We need to challenge each other on these ingredients. I don't want it in our in Christian lives and let's be careful. We're not planting these ingredients into our children because we think that if we can get these things in our children, we will make Christians and you can't make a Christian that is a supernatural intervention of god. So here's my first point then.

As we get into this, and you'll have to forgive because I was go I got into the recipe thing. The first point is fake bake or fake Christianity. Fake bake. That's what we're looking at. In the blue tape letters, which is just a fantastic book by c s Lewis, the high ranking demon screw tape is writing to his young trainee wormwood about strategies to stop Christians growing in Christ.

And, we use this book a lot because it's just so, so good. But 1 of the strategies is what, screwtape calls Christianity and Christianity and you wanna stop someone growing in Christ, you add an and. Christianity and Jesus and Jesus and And in that book, which was written many many years ago, it's it's, screw tape gives these examples. Christianity and the new psychology. Christianity and the new order.

Christianity and faith healing. Christianity and vegetarianism. We could add today. Jesus and self affirmation Jesus and personal progress. Jesus and environmentalism.

Christianity and social justice. Jesus and diversity and tolerance. Christianity and political action. Jesus and family. You could add a lots of ends today.

And there are more that I haven't put in. Now it's not that we don't want to discuss those subjects. We do and discussing them may well help us under stand our Christian faith better, they will. It's rather that the and becomes part of the message. The Jesus end becomes Jesus, Christianity, and it muddles up and then it becomes the person's identity more than Jesus.

Jesus and but the thing I wanna argue with you about the thing I want to point out in your life is that you're missing the end. So the end becomes the superior thing. The end becomes a thing we argue over. The end becomes a thing that I distance myself from you. The end becomes a thing I feel superior than you because you haven't got the end.

Now, Paul is explaining and trying to explain to these co colossians that if you have Jesus, if you have christ, you don't want an and. Don't put an and on it where you find your identity in that He talks about elemental elemental spiritual forces of this world. And it's those elemental spiritual forces that seem to produce a religiosity in all of us and it seems to build up at such a religious religiosity in us that we're resistant to Jesus and nothing. Jesus is everything. We seem to be resistant to that and that's what Paul is dealing with.

What are you doing? In Christ, you have all things. Now, we've seen that a number of times, but fake bake, fake Christianity is always in danger of Jesus and and the and then takes over. Now there are 3 main ingredients in the fake bake, which I tried to show you, and they're very seductive, all of them. Legalism, mysticism, and asceticism.

And your taste buds might sort of, and your smell might go over to legalism or or mysticism or you might like a bit of mixture of all of them or some of them. I don't know what your tastes are, but I want to deal with these because we've got to get rid of this stuff So legalism, many Christians are attached to the taste of legalism. Although the fact is that legalism is like garlic. We love it when we eat it, but when you smell it on someone else, it makes you sick. And that's the nature of legalism.

That is the nature of legalism because my legalism is okay. I don't mind the taste but your legalism is not okay and I don't like you brother because you smell a garlic. And your league that's the problem. That's the problem with legalism. It divides, as I'll show you in a minute.

Legalism is the top ingredient in fake bake, and it's 1 of the m most biggest enemies, if if you can put it that way, of true Christianity, and Paul is constantly dealing with it in his letters. And if we haven't dealt with it, then we're not listening to Paul. In its most basic sense, legalism believes that we can earn or we can keep favor with god by what we do or what we don't do. That's legalism. It's all about me or my group doing or not doing.

And that will promote pleasure in god's minds by what I do and what it's like a a performanceism. You could call legalism a performanceism. It's a very good word for it, I think. It's all about my performances. And when I succeed within the rules that I have, I'm joyful and I can judge other people, but when I fail in the laws that I have, I'm in despair and I'm broken.

And when I when I when I when I succeed, I could feel like I'm on top of the world but when I fail instead of running to Christ who died for all our sin, I run to cyanide, cyanide, and I and I I look at the law, and I I look to do something. 1 old comment commentator, AW Pink wrote this. The great mistake made by people is hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone. Do you see that? How am I right with god?

How does god look at me? The great mistake made by people is hoping to discover in themselves that which is found in Christ alone. Why does God love me? Why am I a child of god? Because of Jesus, not because of what I do.

And that's the problem with legalism. It's a self re rescue project. That's the problem with legalism. It's rules. That become a substitute to a savior.

That's the problem with legalism. It's keeping those rules. That brings self self salvation. Now, 1 of the things about legalism that Paul shows us here in colossians is that it it attracts us. 1 of the reasons we love the smell of it.

It attracts us is because it uses old testament many times. And it attempts to to make old testament laws binding when Jesus has fulfilled them. So look at verses 16 and 17. Look carefully. Now, we've looked at these verses before, but I just wanna rub this in.

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, these are shadows of things that were to come. The reality, however, is found in Christ. What legalism does is fundamentally misunderstand the old testament. Most of the issues with legalism within evangelical world is a fundamental misunderstanding of the old testament.

Shadows are followed by the reality. A shadow that means that there's a body coming. Legalism is saying I'm staying in the shadows. I'm staying in the shadows, and I'll show that I'm godly by staying in the shadows. But Christ has come says, Paul.

Christ has come. Legalism reads the Bible with Christless eyes. It's looking for laws and rules and things that I can justify myself in and put others down in so I feel good about myself. So it may be what you eat. It may be what you do on Sundays.

It may be what clothes you wear on Sundays. It may be what music you listen to. It may be whether you have piercings or tattoos It may be whether you wear a suit or a hoodie on a Sunday. That's the most important thing, isn't it? What is your church like?

What does it wear? I mean, it's amazing that on on many Christian church websites now there is a thing, what to wear in church. Now I understand it because it's saying to the non Christian, look, don't worry about dressing up. But what on earth are we talking about? I've never been more welcomed in my own church than today.

I've never had more attention from women. Now, I know that there's always women suppressing themselves when I walked through the room, but they couldn't. Oh, you look gorgeous. I know. So we need to be very, very careful with, what's what's going on.

Paul reminds Paul reminds the Romans in Romans chapter 14 that the kingdom of god is not about eating and drinking. But righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Legalism intrinsically is joyless. Because it's always looking at rules and who obeys them and not a real love relationship. That is the issue.

Legalism demands uniformity. Everybody's got to look the same, whether they wear a suit or a hoodie. Legalism is loveless because it produces self righteous judgmentalism. It's fake. It's a fake bake.

It's not real and it's so flipping dangerous. It's so dangerous because outwardly it looks like you're doing well But inwardly, it's wrong. There's no heart change. There's no love for Jesus. There's no love for the saints.

It's all about who does what and who doesn't do what and would they do it in my way or the legalist asks if they're in the church, why don't you do what I do? It's all about conformity. And as we deal with children, we must be very careful not to make them legalists. You cannot make someone a Christian by imposing rules. You can't do that.

Legalism is very, very dangerous, and we've gotta be careful. Now, of course, I know this discussions on this. Of course Christians need, children need rulers and, they need to obey of things. I understand that. That's absolutely true.

I'm not saying that. So don't twist my words. I'm not saying we don't teach right and wrong and there are rules with children. I'm not saying that. But if we're not careful we think we can make our children Christian by them obeying the outward rules.

In church, the legalist is drawn to laws and not love. You'll hear them. They talk more about what people don't do or do do and not actually show love. They like as their minister, the sergeant major type of person. Who bucks out the orders.

That's legalism. Be careful. Let's be careful. We gotta think this through. And we need to discuss with each other how we do this and how we bring up our children and not make them legalists.

It's it's it's it's a it's a fine discussion that we need to have. But let's move on. Mysticism is the second ingredient. See verses 18 and 19 of chapter 2, do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen they are puffed up with idle notions by their own spiritual mind.

Now if legalism is about outward conformity to rules, mysticism is about inner experiences. If legalism is Christ plus rules and laws, then mysticism is Christ plus experience. So these Christ plus mystics were saying to these colossian Christians they'd come in. We have a higher. We have a broader.

We have a deeper. We have a greater. We have a mystical union with God, and you don't seem to have it. We have this humility and we have this piety as we wait in silence or whatever it is on god to move in our hearts and you don't seem to have that. Misticism wants a heavenly experience more than it wants to serve others.

Again, there's no love here except for self. It's music and lighting and atmosphere that are most important to the mystic. Here's a quote I found. Mricism ultimately derives its authority from a self actual act actualized self authenticated light rising from within, which is connecting to god energy from without. I'll read it again.

Mricism ultimately derives its authority from a self actualized, self authenticated light rising from within which is connected to god energy from without. That's mysticism. I'm taken up with god. I don't care what you're doing. I'm not in it in anybody around me.

I come into church to have my mystical experience. I don't need to talk to you. I don't need to serve you. I don't really like you. I'm going to sit there and have my experience.

Church is like going to the cinema. I don't wanna talk to the bloke next to I'm irritated that he's got popcorn and rattling around with sweets. I've come here to have my experience with you go away. It really annoying me. Because you're smacking away with your mouth and eating that popcorn.

Why do you have to buy such a big tub? And anyway, do you know how much you paid for that? So that's that's all my legalism coming out. In a mystical way. It looks for truth internally, It weighs feelings and intuition rather than knowing god's word.

And rejoicing with other believers. So the mystic asks at the end of the service, why haven't you experienced what I have? It's all about feelings. And as we deal with our children, We must be careful. We're not bringing in this mysticism into trying to make them Christians.

You can't. Now, we want our children to express their feelings. Absolutely, but it's not all about them. In church, the mystic is drawn to atmosphere, whether that's old or new. You get different types of mystics.

Whether it smells and bells and, you know, stained glass windows, that type of mystic, or whether it keyboards with people mumbling their prayers or tongues or something. That's a mysticism. If the legalist is drawn to the sergeant major shouting out and spouting out his orders, the mystic is drawn to the conductor who sets the tone of the meeting, the worship leader. That's the mystic. We need to work on that.

We need to think about that, how we teach our children and so forth. Okay. Let's deal with the last 1, asceticism. You get it in verses 20 and 23. Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why as though do you still belong to the world?

Do you submit to its rules? Why are you doing this? Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch. These rules which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom with their self imposed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining central indulgence.

It's a fake baker game. But it can look like Christian, but it isn't. An aesthetic is somebody who lives with a rigorous self denial. Now do we believe in self denial? Yes, Jesus says.

You can't be as follower unless you deny himself and take up his cross. But the self denial that Jesus is talking about is never about proving me proving that look what I can do with my body, the self denial is always about denying myself so I can serve Christ and god's people. It's always about love. This ingredients has had a grip on the church and still has a grip on the church. I mean, I I can give you 1 thing after the other, but I'm trying to save time.

But, I mean, you can go back and Anthony were 1 of the earlier ones. He didn't wash, and he thought that was godly. You know? Great. Not very helpful if you're sitting next to him in church, is it?

So if your name's Anthony and you haven't got any deodorant, then well, there we go. You know? Amazing, isn't it? You've come here today? Probably why there's gaps between you.

Simon's stylites, you must know him. He's the bloke who climbed up a pole and stood on a, what is it, 30 foot pole. And and lived up a 30 foot pole for like 30 years or something crazy. He lived up a pole and he thought that was godly. He gave up everything.

Before that, He was known as someone that if he walked into the room, probably a rat would jump out of his pocket because he was so filthy. He's never washed again. Some of the early aesthetics castrated themselves in order that they could praise God probably with a higher voice, I guess. I mean, it's a strange thing, isn't it? A seticism.

It's the cruel treatment of the body. It's not really self denial, which is about love for Christ. And love for others. A seticism says if you enjoy yourself and it must be wrong, it's essentially anti human. Why they don't like humor.

Humor comes from human comes from Adam. Comes from how god made us. Aesthetics asked at the end of the service. Why do you eat McDonald's? I mean, that is a good question, but Aesthetics asked that.

And especially when you've got, I better not name who it is, but 1 of our team, the family's worker, when you're on a road trip with him, not only buys a McDonald with massive joy in his heart, but buys another 1 to go cold and 3 hours later eats it. How can you eat a cold McDonald's? I mean, it's bad enough warm, isn't it? Anyway, there we go. Sorry.

And the sexy ask those sort of questions like I've just done. Why do you drink alcohol? Why don't you fast? Why why why why why don't you do lent? It's all about denying being human, actually.

And as we deal with children, we need to be careful in this area. We want children to be disciplined, absolutely, and deny themselves but they we want them to deny themselves so that they love Christ, out of love for Christ. And love for others, not to make themselves, not to reshape themselves and their bodies, In church, the aesthetic is drawn to austerity and anti human behavior. If the legalist is drawn to the sergeant major spout spouting out his orders type preacher, if the m mystic is drawn to the conductor, the worship leader who sets the tone, the aesthetic is drawn to the running coach. And church is about gym, nasium.

It's your body in order. If you get your body in order, your soul will be in order. All this is fake bake, and Paul summarizes it in verse 19 They have lost connection with the head. That is a major thing to say. These ingredients are so serious if you include them in your life.

They've lost connection with the head. That's Jesus. You don't need special visions. You don't need conversations with angels. You don't need a bunch of rules.

You just need to hold fast to the head and be continually connected in a living, loving way to the lord Jesus Christ. And when you're connected to the head, you'll automatically connect into the head's body, and love for Christ comes out for love for the body. That's my first point. Are you are you you with me? Where are we?

Here's my second point. It gets worse, by the way. I don't know what you think about this. Are you ready for this? But you've gotta give me some break.

So please don't be a legalist or a mystic or a or an aesthetic on this. Here's my second point. It's the best thing I could think of. All puff and soggy bottom. Now if you know with soggy bottom, If you don't know Mary Berry, you won't know what I'm talking about.

But Mary Berry is a great British baker and she's always interested in the soggy bottom. So the legalists will think they've got a firm bottom, you see, but she will then have a look and see whether the cake is all wet underneath. This is all puff in the Soggy bottom. That's the truth of it. Look at verse 18 in the second half.

Such a person goes into great detail about what they have seen. They are puffed up. With idle notions by their own spiritual mind. So you've got to get this, this young church had hearts to want to grow in Christ, but these false teachers had come in and they come with hooks with their false teaching. And the hook is that you can grow maturely quickly if you just take on this aspect, mysticism or legalism.

If you had a bit more law in your life, you'll grow mature quicker. But the thing is about maturity and even growing as a Christian, it takes time. We're not pot noodles. I went to Hmark, yesterday. It's an amazing place.

You've been to Hmark? Yeah. In your morning, all this Korean food and stuff. There's pot noodles everywhere. I wanted to buy some and I didn't know what to do so I took 1 from 1 shelf another pot noodles.

They're wonderful. You look on the back. It's all in Korean or Chinese. I can't understand a thing. Except there's a little picture with boiling water, pour it in.

It says 1 1 to 2. That must be 1 to 2 minutes. It's done. I've got Korean food. How easy is Korean food?

Any idiot. Any idiot can do it. Boil water, pour it in the pot noodle mature. But that isn't mature. Christians take time.

That's why legalisms put people down. We take time to grow and mature in Christ and love Christ and deal with issues in our lives. Doesn't happen overnight. But these people come in and say, you're going to heaven third class. These people come and say, you need the advanced stuff.

Would it be would I be a better Christian if I didn't eat bacon? Would I be a better Christian if I ate fish on Fridays? Would I be a better Christian? If 1 day a week I I went without food. Would I be a better Christian if I gave up alcohol?

Would we be better Christians if we celebrated the feast of the tabernacles in the Old Testament? It's good Friday more holy than any other Friday. It's Easter Sunday more holy than any other Sunday. It's Christmas a day special in god's eyes or am I better of of avoiding that pagan revelry? Am I gonna be a better Christian if I don't have a pagan stick called a Christmas tree in my in my or am I gonna be a better 1 if I do have?

Is it more Christian to come to church in a suit or a hoodie? What's the culture of the church? Do I have to wear a hoodie? No. That's why I'm doing this.

No. You can wear a suit, but why are you wearing the suit? If you wanna wear a suit because you like dressing up, then please. If you wanna wear a hoodie, then please. Am I more of a Christian?

Because I've got an electric car instead of a diesel 1. Paul is saying to the colossians, don't let these people rob you of your liberty. They are all pop up and soggy bottom. They're not real. It's a fake bake and when you get your teeth into it, it won't do you any good whatsoever.

There are times to deny yourself. There are times out of love to give up that which you can do, but it's love and Paul says that If there's a weaker brother, then you might not want to eat pork. If there's a weak weaker brother, then who's an alcoholic, then you might wanna give up alcohol in order to but it's a law of love, not a law of of I must do to make myself better. All religions have these things, food laws, dress laws, washing visions, anti human twistings of bodies, genaflecting all of that sort of weird stuff. We can tend to be gentle on those false religions and these 3 things.

Paul is not gentle. Paul says, they will captivate you verse 8. They will judge you in verse 16 and in verse 18, they could disqualify you. You could be captured, judged, and disqualified. These are dangerous ingredients.

They're dangerous We've got to work out. How are they come into the church and be careful? They're hot air. They're puff. They're not real.

They may lay good when the hot air comes out of the mouth and you see this puff but there's no substance to change you and make you love Christ and love other people. They're loveless. They're Christeless. That's why. They're full of nothing.

It's all about you and why did Christ come into the world to save nothings? You're a nothing. Except for Christ. And then you become a child of God. It's puff and soggy bottom.

Here's my third point. A nasty taste in the mouth. What I thought I would do here, and again, you're gonna have to allow me to indulge myself. I thought I'd just give you a whole load of illustrations of how these ingredients slip in And I thought I'd just give you some illustrations. I hope it's okay of my own life.

I'm just illustrating what happened. When I first became a Christian and I was baptized, I was baptized in Wimbledon in a in a church building out in Wimbledon that is now a Jehovah's Witness thing. I was baptized there. When I was baptized, I remember someone coming up to me and saying, where were you baptized? Oh, I was just in Wimbledon.

It was in a a church. Oh, I was baptized in the Jordan River. Right? What what what is that telling me? Well, what what what do you think that the water that Jesus the water where when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist is probably more likely to be in Wimbledon than in the Jordan river.

It flows out, you know. Do you see that spiritual 1 upmanship? What's that gotta do with it? Have you ever been to Israel? No.

You you you think that you're gonna walk where Jesus walked? When I first preach, 1 of my first preaches ever, my first proper preach it was so scary, and and I did it in this little church with this youth group, and, a bloke came up to me afterwards, and he loved it. I thought that's amazing. He said, it's really good. I'm so, so good.

So, so powerful and stuff. So what car do you drive? Now at the at that time, I had no money and I was driving a a moped that a nun had fallen off but didn't wanna drive anymore. And so I was driving an ex nuns moped. Yeah.

And I said, oh, I haven't got a car. I got my moped. Is that your moped? Yeah. He I'm not talk and he didn't talk to me.

Because if I was god's, then I would drive a big car. What's that got to do with anything? Do you see Christianity Jesus Ann? When I was first converted, My friend, who was converted with me in Windsor, came to Kingston polytechnic That's why it's always interesting. I find that I came here originally.

And at the bottom of, believe it or not, Camry Park Road, where the hub is. There was a part of Kingston uni, the art part. And he invited me to the Christian union. I was really excited to meet other Christians my age. They were going to poly.

I'd never been to, had any other education, but it was be be really good. I went in and it sat at the bottom and it was still there. Sir the bottom of Camry Park Road, and the bloke talks about tongues. If you are loving Christ, you'll speak in tongues, other languages. So, well, heavenly language.

Do you wanna love Christ? Yes. I was absolutely sellers. Hands up to you. I want to love him more.

Do you want to know him more? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Both hands and legs.

Yep. I want to love Christ more, then you need to speak in tongues. Do you speak in tongues? No. Then you don't know Christ very well.

Oh my goodness. I need to speak in tongues. How do I do it? How would I do it? He got us all sitting down.

He came around each 1 of us. And so just open your mouth. I hope my mouth says because is is there words coming out? No. Only no.

And that I'm pretty sure that's English. He said, take a deep breath. Breathe out. Oh, and then let the lips go. Honestly, He said, we'll have another go.

That's not tongues, he said. And he walked away and left me. I drove home in my little car called Leonard It was I won't tell you why it was called Leonard. I drove home devastated I didn't even think I was a Christian. I was crying.

I went into my bedroom and said, lord, I don't think I'm a Christian. I can't speak in tongues. And so I kept breathing in and out and then I've made myself make it up. Is because that's what it all sounds like. And and I was just saying these words And for a few days, I thought, oh, I'm a Christian, and then I realized I was making this up.

And it's not what god wants. Does that make me a better no. Are you a pastor of the church? I mean, really, I didn't realize I didn't think someone would just wear a hoodie and jeans. You put a suit on.

Everybody loves you. They think you've got authority. What is authority has this been a cloth god? I feel more authoritative. I feel like I should be paid more.

Does it matter what you wear? No. Unless you're wearing it for a reason that makes you think that you're pleasing to god in doing that, and it makes you stand out. When I was in Tasmania, it was 1 of the big issues. Young people were getting converted all over the place, and they were coming into a church, which was very traditional with no shoes on, and 1 girl had a dog's collar, you know, studs all around her neck.

And a woman came and said, why are you bringing these people into church? And I said, because they are church. Is not into church. They are they're converted. That girl was converted last week.

You wanna hear a story. It's phenomenal. And she said, you come into church wearing a dog's collar. I said, but you've always told me I should wear a dog collar. Now she wears 1, and you don't like it.

And it's a real 1 instead of a white thing around her neck. How do you judge people like that in what they wear? Let me have a go at myself. I was, it was it was an evangelistic tour I was doing down in the West country. And I was going from 1 church to the other, preaching the and I came to this 1 church.

It was an anglican church. The vicar came to pick me up, and he wore a dog collar. I don't like dog collars. I immediately judge. I'm trying to show you how wrong I immediately judge people by wearing silly things like dog collars.

Why would you wear a dog collar? I judged him. He was probably weak. He's gotta be a wet Christian. I don't know what this is about.

Anyway, we got to the meeting. It was full of all old people and a dreadful choir. And, I stood up to preach, and I thought nothing's gonna happen here. But as I preach, the choir leader got so angry that in the middle of the preach, she stood up and said, how dare you speak like this? And I said, oh, okay.

I don't like that story. And I said, well, it's only 1 of the Jesus stories I'm telling. And then next to her, an old, minister stood up and said, I've been amidst the 40 years, and I've never heard anything like it. And I said, well, that's amazing because It's in the Bible. Half the audience turned against me.

I thought flipping it and I've sleep the night here with 1 of these people. What is going on? The vicar with the dog collar that I thought was wet stood up. Back me up all away. He said I've been wanting to say this stuff to some of you for years.

You need to listen to it. You're in the choir, but you don't know Christ. And you've been going for 40 years, you need to listen to it. He became my hero. I nearly bought a dog collar.

Years ago, the Toronto blessing came. Some of you remember it? What a dreadful thing that was? If you really knew god, you would woof like a dog or you'd growl like a lion. You'd fall on the floor and you'd have an experience and it was your own internal mystical experience.

You could disturb the whole of the congregation being at the front just throughing and shaking and roaring like a lion. I'm trying to give you illustrations of this stuff. When I was in Australia, lots, as I say, young people became Christians, where are we, brother? Alright. Lots of people became, Christians and there was a New Zealand brother who rang us up and said, I hear what's going on in the church.

Can I come over and see it? I said, yeah, if you want. Yeah. His wife had just had their ninth baby. I didn't know that, and he came and then he told me he'd had his ninth baby.

And I said, why are you here? Ninth's baby, and you're not with your wife. Who the who the heck do you think you are coming over here and leaving her with that? He said, oh, there's another 8 children. They'll look after it.

He didn't like me at all in the end. He came into my house, and on a Friday night, Anne, and another another woman in the church would go and do children's work and I looked after Jerusalem and this woman's children. They were young. They had a bath I never went in, I never washed them, never did anything like that, but it would be girls closed off in the bath. They would take their clothes off in the bathroom, they would wash, and then I would shout for them to come out.

I didn't touch them in any way. That would be inappropriate. He saw me doing this. I then cooked food for Anne and this other woman to eat because we were then all gonna go out to do youth work in the evening. So I had the time to cook the food.

He came to me after the Friday and said on the the morning. Can I have a coffee with you? I said, yeah, yeah. Annoyingly, I paid for it. He then said, I wanna take you through a whole load of things.

1, you cooked that's a woman's job. I said, well, it isn't, but I don't know what you're talking about. You had those girls and bay bathed them. That's a woman's job. You're a perfect He then accused me and said that god had told him he had a prophecy that I would commit adultery within a certain period of time.

I asked him whether whether, I had no hope. The Holy Spirit had said I'd committed adultery and it was definitely gonna happen. So I might as well just get on with it, or whether I could get out of committing adultery, he said, no, you will commit adultery. That's the prophecy of god. He hated the idea of youth groups and children's works because he was creating his own church by discipline his children and some of it was horrific.

And the way he treated his wife was way out of order. He was trying to make a church. He was trying to make Christians. By the way, after the time was up, for my committing of adultery, I hadn't, thankfully, by the grace of god, of course. I rang him up and said, you are profit.

He said, oh, it didn't matter that much. I said it did to me. It nearly broke me. Even though I knew you were wrong, it nearly broke me. How dare you use god like that?

Let me give you 1 more illustration. It's worth saying this. When I was in Australia, there was a family. They were a lovely family. They were church members.

They believed in homeschooling. Now I'm not going against homeschooling, so don't you worked up, don't get all, you know, I actually really believed in homeschooling. Actually, for everyone, until I got to Australia, But this, this couple decided to homeschooling, all the emphasis was on the woman. She brought up 3 boys. She thought she could make a Christian.

This is a bit I'm talking about. She thought by separating the kids from ungodliness, she would make Christians When their kids were done for selling drugs and were drug addicts, she was broken because she couldn't make Christian. Her theology was so wrong. Now why am I telling you all these stories not to have a go if you think you know, this will think that. I'm telling you these stories that if you are thinking you can make back to my ingredients, it was fun, but it's now serious.

If you think that you can make a Christian by withdrawing kids or putting kids in this or doing this, you are in massive danger of these issues. Doesn't mean to say we don't withdraw kids. Doesn't mean I know there's all questions there. But be careful. If you think you can make a Christian, you can't.

It's Christ that does it. You need to pray. She became a broken woman that was totally broken and had a breakdown because her theology was wrong. It was very, very sad, and her kids were wild in the end. Let me go to my fourth point and then finish and then we're gonna have communion.

It's taste and see that the lord is good because true Christianity is all about Jesus. We're gonna see that next week When you come into colossians chapter 3, Paul says, set your hearts on things above where Christ is. He says, set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. He says, look at Christ, be obsessed with Christ, revel in Jesus Christ, see that he's your, lord, show people Jesus Christ show people that God loves them because of Christ. Show people that Christ die for all their sin.

Show people that it's Christ that makes Christians show people that what they need is to love him and serve him and then they're denied themselves, show people the lord Jesus Christ who's fulfilled all the laws show people the lord Jesus Christ, who is the lover of your soul. Show people Jesus Christ, who's the 1 that brings you into the family and that you you are now have God as your father. Not as some dictator but as a father and who loves you because of Christ. Show love show love of the lord Jesus Christ and be obsessed with Jesus. And when you're taken up with Jesus, then that love pours out of you, not in laws, but in grace.

Grace changes us not outside but inside to know the love of Christ inside. We need to learn to teach our children this. We need to learn to teach ourselves this and we want a church that is so Christ centered that we love Jesus Christ. Is that right? We wanna love Jesus.

Now, quickly, just some application on this. All of this means that we can be very different people within a church. Your propensity may be towards laws Brilliant. Thank you for being a brother and sister in our church that is like that. But we might be different.

Let's enjoy each other's differences as together we biblically serve god. And as our cultures are different, something in your culture, and we've got to think of this. Your culture would say that's ungodly. So I I know it's a big issue with with some people. Some cultures for the pastor not to wear a suit.

What is up with him? What's wrong with him? He's just dressing like a normal person. These can be cultural things and we need to work them out and see what's cultural, what's biblical, and then enjoy each other's differences. You wanna dress up for church?

Great. You wanna wear a hat, ladies? Obviously, you do, but you're suppressed. Where a hat? As long as it's not so big that I can't see even Tom's head.

You know, Yeah. Sorry, brother. Yeah. Yeah. With different personalities.

Hey, let's enjoy it. You've got propensity to say, oh, why do we do that? Oh brother. Come on. Let's enjoy each other.

That's alright. We're different. We can be different. Let's enjoy each other, but let's help each other and families and how we bring our children up. Let's help each other.

Oh, no. No. No. That's too legalistic. Oh, no.

No. No. No. No. You know, you of course gotta give rules there.

Yeah. Of course, you've gotta do that. Oh, no, that's alright. Do you think I was too harsh? I don't think you were.

Do you think I was too harsh? Yeah, I do think you were. It's alright. We make mistakes and we make mistakes in these areas but to let them grow in ingredients in how we treat ourselves, the church, and our children. We are in big trouble.

If legalism, mysticism, and asceticism work their ugly way in, as bow our heads and pray. Father, we thank you so much for the things that you have spoken to us about this morning. We pray that you would, forgive us for being drawn towards these these anti gospels. Of legalism and mysticism and asceticism. And we're sorry that in so many ways, so many of creeping ways.

These things can worm their way into our hearts and our minds and convince us in some way or another that we and other people need an end, that we need something more than the lord Jesus. We pray you'd forgive us, help us please to remain alert to these things. We're fools if we think it could never happen to us. Please keep us on guard. Keep us trusting solely in the finished work of the lord Jesus Christ.

This work that we remember together now, as a church family. We thank you for the the bread, which represents that body that was given for us on the cross, where the perfect body, the perfect soul, the perfect person, the lord Jesus Christ, the god man, gave his own body, to satisfy your holy wrath against our sin. Lord, we're horrified. That that that is what was required. To to pay the price for our wickedness.

We thank you. This juice reminds us of the blood of the new covenant that was shed for the forgiveness of sins. And we thank you that the pouring out of this blood seals our pardon and seals our forgiveness and guarantees our spirit to come and live within us. And lord we pray that you would help us never to depart from this finished work of the lord Jesus Christ. We thank you that he is all we need for salvation and that he is all we need for sanctification.

He was all we would need in the beginning, and he's all we will ever need. So help us to keep our eyes on him. In Jesus' name.

Preached by Pete Woodcock
Pete Woodcock photo

Pete is Senior Pastor of Cornerstone and lives in Chessington with his wife Anne who helps oversee the women’s ministry in the church.

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