What you believe drives how you live. For instance, if you believe that drinking tomato and spinach smoothies will help you lose weight, then you may drink one every day for lunch and dinner, if you’re on a diet. What you believe about spiritual matters drives how you live too. In this post, we’ll discuss why it matters what you believe about salvation and sanctification.
If you’ve been on any kind of media recently, you know that some people have no problem pushing their beliefs on you. Some do it to make a financial profit, some do it to try to help others, some do it for a host of other reasons. Some of their ads and viewpoints seem persuasive, so it’s important to have one source of absolute truth: the Bible. Let the Bible be your filter of truth for all the messages you hear. Paul writes to the followers of Christ in Colossae:
I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments. For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude. (Colossians 2:4-7)
Notice that Paul reminds his friends the Colossians that he is not always with them physically, but he is with them in spirit — thinking about them and praying for them. He writes to them so their faith will be strong, rooted, built up in Christ, and overflowing with gratitude.
Know what you believe about salvation
In Paul’s day, there were a lot of philosophies, religions and ideas about eternal life. There are a lot today. How could the Colossian Christians know what was the truth, and how can we know the truth about salvation today?
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him. (Colossians 2:8-15)
Some of the people in the city of Colossae taught philosophies and ideas based on human tradition regarding the elemental forces of the world (which could include: worshiping earth, wind, fire or water; or a host of other philosophies and religions). Paul reminds the Colossians (and us) that these viewpoints are not based on Christ, and therefore they are empty deceit. We should not put our trust in them. They will not lead to salvation.
Salvation comes by realizing who Jesus is (the fullness of God in the flesh) and what He has done for us (died for us on the cross). Even though we were dead in our trespasses, He made us spiritually alive, forgiving us of our sins and erasing our certificate of sin-debt. When we put our trust and faith in Jesus, He saves us, forgives us, and fills us. Metaphorically speaking, He does a work of spiritual circumcision on our heart, cutting away the old nature and making us brand new in Christ. We publicly declare our faith in Christ through believers baptism. (This paragraph is a summary of the truths of Colossians 2:8-15; see above).
Our saving faith in Jesus Christ compels us to share the good news with others that Jesus offers salvation to all who will believe. We are motivated to help get this message of salvation to people all over the world, people who desperately need Christ. What we believe about salvation impacts the way we live.
Know what you believe about sanctification
We must also know what we believe about sanctification, the process with which we grow to be more and more like Christ. When we grow closer to Christ, we begin to think like Him, talk like Him, have compassion like Him, and act like Him. This is the process of sanctification.
Some people think that elaborate lists of rules, regulations and religious activities are required to become more like Christ. They think you must eat (or not eat) certain foods, and/or participate in religious festivals in a certain way (or at a certain place). But the way of Christ is much simpler than that. The way of growing closer to Jesus is a life of daily devotion to Him, built upon the foundation of Bible reading and prayer. This allows you to learn from Him, talk to Him, listen to Him, and walk daily with Him.
Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his unspiritual mind. He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth from God. (Colossians 2:16-19)
If you died with the Messiah to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations: “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”? All these regulations refer to what is destroyed by being used up; they are commands and doctrines of men. Although these have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence. (Colossians 2:20-23)
Growing in Christ (sanctification) does not come by adherence to external activities. Sanctification comes as your heart is transformed day by day as you follow Christ. Notice in the verses above that the religious activities are not the substance of faith, but rather they are a shadow. Jesus the Messiah is the substance. We grow as we remain close to Him. What you believe about sanctification impacts the way you live.