Complete in Christ: The Error of Legalism

We fall into the error of legalism when we substitute the "shadow" of law and tradition for the "substance" of Christ.

Sermon Discussion Questions:

  1. In Colossians 2:8 Paul warns his readers about the danger of being spiritually hijacked ("captivated") by false teachers making empty religious arguments ("empty, deceitful philosophy"). Where do you see that happening today in our culture?
  2. Paul notes that the false teaching in Colossae was based upon the Jewish "traditions" that had expanded on the Old Testament instructions about Jewish feasts, Jewish holy days, and the Sabbath. Dan explained how these "traditions" were intended to "put a fence around the law." What does that mean? How do we see that today in some church contexts?
  3. Dan stated that "legalism" is measuring someone's standing before God or their devotion to God by their compliance to a list of rules or standards rather than by their faith in Christ and their life in the Spirit. What do you think about that definition of "legalism"? Would you change it or add to it in any way?
  4. The false teachers in Colossae were legalistically judging the Colossian believers by whether they complied with Jewish traditions. Have you ever been in the position of being legalistically judged like that? How can legalism "hijack" a believer's spiritual life?
  5. Paul teaches in Colossians 2:17 that the error of legalism is its focus on the "shadow" rather than "the reality [that] is found in Christ." What do you understand this to mean? Why do we so easily get focused on "shadows" and get distracted from the "reality"?
  6. How does Paul explain how Jesus has fulfilled the "shadow" of circumcision in Colossians 2:11? What does that mean for you as a Christian?

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