“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
What Paul stated in this verse is a reference to a system of apostate thinking called human viewpoint. The test of apostasy is the doctrinal accuracy of the teacher’s message. This is where it takes a great amount of doctrine in the soul to discern the false from the true. Only through spiritual growth can a believer avoid being deceived by false teachers.
The followers of apostate teachers are those who allow themselves to be deceived. They reject truth and believe the fabricated lies of false teachers. Some in Colossae followed the philosophical, evil systems of Gnosticism. The pivot (remnant according to grace) has always been a small elite group of believers who refuse to compromise accurate Bible teaching. Those who follow after false teachers are enemies of the Cross and partakers in satanic thinking. They are enticed by words which sound very intellectual and logical from a human point of view. (II Timothy 3:6, 4:3-4; II Peter 2:2,3,14,18; Jude 12,16)
However, the world system’s way of thinking is contrary to the thinking of God. We call the thinking of Satan’s world system, Human Viewpoint Thinking. And the elementary principles of Satan’s world system are not the same as the principles of Christ. They are quite the opposite. The Bible is the only source for learning the mind of Jesus Christ, which is divine viewpoint. (I Corinthians 2:16; Hebrews 3:7, 4:12; II Peter 1:12-21)
Thinking the thoughts of Jesus Christ is called Divine Viewpoint Thinking. The more Bible doctrine you know, believe and apply, the more Divine Viewpoint Thinking you will be able to utilize. The less Bible doctrine you know, the more Human Viewpoint Thinking you are going to utilize resulting in insecurity and instability.
Consistent study of God’s Word keeps Divine Viewpoint Thinking fresh in the mind and helps counteract Human Viewpoint Thinking. (Psalms 119:129-135) Thinking your way through life with Divine Viewpoint Thinking will bring victory, peace, power, security and stability. (Isaiah 26:3-4, 33:6) It also eliminates mental attitude sinning, such as maligning, character assassination, gossiping, jealousy, self-pity, etc. Vacillating between Divine Viewpoint Thinking and Human Viewpoint Thinking makes a believer unstable. (James 1:8)
The Scripture is clear that the only foundation for the believer is Jesus Christ Himself. We know that the Word of God is the mind of Christ. Therefore, the foundation is the written Word (Christ is the living Word). The written Word of God is meant to be understood and utilized as a blueprint for building your spiritual building (the Christian Way of Life). The Christian Way of Life is a life of thinking the thoughts of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:5, says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” The mind of Christ is the doctrine found in the Word of God, the only source of absolute truth. In order to have the proper thinking, the believer must be consistently learning, believing and applying the Word of God to every circumstance in life.
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, Who raised Him from the dead.”
Jesus Christ is the unique Person of the universe. He is the only Person in history to be both fully God and fully man. The term for this unique union is derived from the Greek word hupostatis meaning essence from which we get the theological term Hypostatic Union. In the case of Christ it is both divine and human essence in one Person forever. He is the God-Man. (Hebrews 1:3)
Christ was born of a virgin. Therefore He was born without a sin nature. He is superior to man because He is God and because He is a sinless human being. He is the only way to God, qualified to be a substitute for all of us. Even though His two natures are united in one Person, they retain their separate identities. The attributes of one do not belong to the other. Deity remains deity and humanity remains humanity. Because of this unique union, Christ is the perfect mediator between God and man. He is the only One in history qualified to go to the Cross and pay the penalty for sin. Christ was also our prototype, in that He lived an impeccable (sinless) life under the control of God the Holy Spirit. (I Timothy 2:5)
Jesus, as a man, is seated at the right hand of the Father at this very moment. Deity is omnipresent and does not sit; only His humanity sits. And it is His humanity that will return to earth at the Second Coming. Theologically we say that Jesus is undiminished deity and true humanity in One Person forever. He is undiminished deity in that He is as much God as the Father and the Holy Spirit in essence, attributes and character. He is true humanity in that Christ possesses a body, a soul and a spirit. (Acts 5:31; Hebrews 1:3, 4:15,10:5; I Peter 2:24; Matthew 26:38; Mark 2:8; Luke 23:46; I John 3:3)
Christ voluntarily restricted the function of His deity. This doctrine takes its name from the Greek word kenoo, which means to deprive oneself of a rightful function. This doctrine explains how Christ, the creator of the universe, could leave Heaven and become a man. II Corinthians 8:9 tells us that even though Christ was rich, for our sakes He became poor. This is kenosis. We must remember that Jesus Christ is coequal and coeternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He voluntarily subordinated Himself to the Father’s plan of salvation. This means He also deprived Himself of the exercise of His divine attributes. At no time did Christ “empty Himself” of His deity. He was never less than God. He simply restricted the use of His divine attributes voluntarily. (Colossians 2:9)
Christ glorified the Father by executing the Father’s plan, not by glorifying Himself. However, the limitation of kenosis ultimately glorified Christ because He was able to execute the plan perfectly, without sin. As a testimony to the fact that God is completely satisfied with the Son, Christ is now seated in the place of authority over all rulers and authorities, at the right hand of the Father. This impeccable life was our prototype to demonstrate to us the fact that we too can execute God’s plan. (John 19:30; Philippians 2:5-8)
Christ remained free from the three categories of sin: the sin nature, Adam’s original sin and personal sins. The sin nature, as we have studied, is passed down genetically from the father, but Christ had no human father. The virgin birth of Christ assured that He would have no sin nature. (I Corinthians 15:22) Without a sin nature, Adam’s original sin could not be imputed to Christ since it had no home or target as it does with the rest of humanity. And as humanity, He remained free of personal sin.
The physical act of circumcision was established as identification with the Abrahamic Covenant (a covenant of faith between God and Abraham). (Genesis 17:1-14) Circumcision became a ritual designed to demonstrate and remind the Jewish nation of Israel that they were to be set apart as God’s representatives in the dispensation of Israel. Romans 4:11 says that Abraham received the sign of circumcision. In Romans 4:11 the Greek word for receive is “lambano,” which means to receive something without earning it, deserving it or doing anything for it. The Greek word for sign in this same verse is “semeion,” which means a token, a distinguishing mark or a ritual mark. Circumcision as a ritual mark is a memorial guarantee that the integrity of God never goes back on an obligation. Circumcision was a ritual mark in Abraham, a memorial guarantee that the integrity of God will keep the promise. God promised Abraham an heir and the justice of God provided the blessing of the birth of Isaac. Therefore it is obvious in the case of Abraham that there is a right time and a wrong time for the justice of God to provide blessing. Only the integrity of God knows the right time. God’s blessing is perfect; God’s timing is perfect. God’s blessing was provided from divine justice on the basis of the fact that Abraham possessed God’s righteousness and justification. And further, that Abraham through maximum doctrine resident in the soul had the capacity to receive and enjoy the blessing. The provision of this special blessing was memorialized by the ritual of circumcision. Thereafter, every male Jew was circumcised on the eighth day.
Romans 4:11 goes on to say that the sign of circumcision was a seal of the righteousness of the faith which Abraham had while uncircumcised. Seal is the Greek word “sphragis” referring to a seal which confirms or authenticates, hence validates that to which it is attached. A seal has to be attached to something of importance. Abraham understood circumcision immediately as a seal, which means when God says do it, Abraham understood that you attach a seal only to something important. A seal is no good without the substance or the reality. In other words, you don’t put a seal on something of no value. God could not put the seal on Abraham unless he had righteousness and unless he had doctrine. He had to have the potential and the capacity. The reality is found in the fact that Abraham had righteousness, he had doctrine. So, circumcision was a ritual which commemorated the beginning of the Jewish race in Abraham. At the same time, it brought into focus the principle that there is no such thing as direct blessing from God unless you have His righteousness. In other words, the justice of God provides direct blessing for the righteousness of God. (Blessing by association would be indirect blessing).
Romans 4:11 also states that Abraham is the father of all who believe. The Greek noun “pater” for father means father in the sense of a pattern. All members of the human race who believe in Christ produce the same action, and that is why Abraham is the pattern. All of us follow identically what Abraham did in order to have the potential of divine blessing. Abraham was saved as an uncircumcised Gentile. He is the pattern for salvation adjustment to the justice of God. When he believed in Christ Abraham received God’s righteousness.
Spiritual circumcision therefore represents a positional truth in which believers in the Church Age are identified with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. The analogy is that as physical circumcision removed a part of the flesh of the body, Jesus Christ removed the effects of the sin nature which is located in the body. Just as a Jew in Israel was identified with the faith of Abraham by physical circumcision, even so a believer in the Church Age is identified with that same faith that Abraham had, which was faith in Jesus Christ.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is neither seen nor felt. It is a fact stated in the Word of God for us to believe. Technically, it is when the believer is placed into union with Jesus Christ at salvation. There are seven baptisms in the Bible and the baptism of the Holy Spirit is but one of these. The word for baptism in Greek is “baptisma” and literally means “to dip.” It was used to describe the dyeing of a garment or the drawing of wine by dipping the cup into the bowl. Since John the Baptist and Jesus used the word to describe water baptism as submersion, the accurate interpretation of the word is “to dip into or submerge.” (I Corinthians 12:13)
We have to remember that baptisma which is a noun, baptizo which is a verb, and bapto which is a verb, are all words which have come down to us through three different Greek languages over a period of 1000 years. Before these words got into the New Testament they were a thousand years old. So we know exactly what they mean. The worst thing that ever happened to the Christian church in the English speaking world is when these words were transliterated. For example, baptizo is transliterated “baptize.” But it isn’t a translation. Only a translation tells us what the true meaning is of a word. It was not legitimate to transliterate the verb baptizo. It should have been properly translated. That was not done and that is a part of the problem. Baptizo means to identify. The translation should be identification.
When a person trusts Christ as Savior they are positionally “dipped into” or “submerged” into the “body of Christ.” This, of course, is speaking of positional truth, signifying our union with Christ. Water baptism for believers has always been a picture of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Submersion into water pictures how the believer becomes united with Christ. (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:4-5)
There are seven baptisms in the Scriptures and all are for the purpose of identification. Of these seven, four are ritual identifications and three are actual identifications. In the apostate times in which we live, water baptism (ritual) and the baptism of the Holy Spirit (actual) have been distorted into a system of works. Water baptism, for example, is taught by some ministers as a necessity for salvation, which is false doctrine. No one has ever been saved by being submerged in water. The only purpose for water baptism is identification: identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, which it pictures. It was a teaching aid for the early church before the canon of Scripture was completed. As a matter of fact, water baptism is mentioned only once after the historical record in the book of Acts and it is mentioned as a source of division in the church of Corinth. (I Corinthians 1:11-17)
The baptism of the Holy Spirit results in a union, which never before existed for the believer. This union with Christ is unique and it sets up many potentials for the believer. Being placed in union with Christ is called Positional Sanctification. Positional Sanctification describes our new relationship with God through Christ.
Our new relationship is permanent, based on our faith in Christ and it never changes, regardless of the believer’s spiritual condition. The baptism of the Holy Spirit, therefore, sets up the potential for the believer to make his daily experience (Experiential Sanctification) align with his position in Christ (Positional Sanctification). This means that we are to exhibit the character of Jesus Christ on a daily basis by means of the power of the Holy Spirit Who is indwelling us. (John 14:20; I Corinthians 12:12-27)