And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
We are to look to Christ alone.
I. FOR THE FREEING OF OUR SPIRIT FROM ALL EVIL. But how shall this great purification and perfecting be attained? The appeal is to Omnipotent Grace. And God's response is made known in Jesus Christ: "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell" of pardoning and cleansing grace. In Him "who is the head of all principality and power" are we to look for the sin-expelling force — the force to correct, to purify our deepest life.
1. And we must not call in any foreign aid; we are "complete in Him." These Colossians were tempted by Gentile philosophy on one side, and Jewish ecclesiasticism on the other, but the apostle reminds them that everything they wanted was in Christ, and they were to confine themselves severely to His fellowship.
2. And Christ can save us completely, "Whiter than snow." Let us remember that Christ aims at our "completeness," and let us not rest short of that ideal. It is a present blessing.
II. FOR THE PERFECTING OF OUR NATURE IN ALL ITS POWERS. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell." In Christ we behold the fulness of "the Godhead bodily," and also the fulness of humanity.
1. We need not travel beyond Christ — He is the ideal and the perfecter of the race. All colours are in the sun, and all the infinite differentiations of colour found on the landscapes of nature, in the vapours of the firmament, in the play of the sea — all are in the light. And in Jesus we have the full-orbed humanity, all the graces by which man can be adorned. When we study the character of ordinary men it is like entering an ordinary garden, in which are a few fair flowers with an unfortunate admixture of weeds; when we study the moral character of extraordinary men it is like entering the grounds of some great rose-grower or orchid connoisseur — many delightful things greeting our eyes. But on beholding Christ, it is like being set down in Kew Gardens, where the vegetation of the whole earth blooms. In these days certain critics are very anxious to send us to the sacred writings of China, India, Arabia, Persia. Very valuable indeed are those writings from certain points of view, but they have nothing to add to the ideal of humanity given in Christ.
2. In Christ we are to attain the perfection of our nature. We have not only completeness in Him, but we arc to become complete in Him. Men talk about the narrowness of Christianity, its commandments and prohibitions; they want a system of religion, wider, freer. Now, the tree on the heath or in the street may rebel against the iron bars which girdle it. Says the grumbling sapling, "I don't like this iron cage; I want liberty, I want room." Room l it has plenty of room at the top. It has room for its branches to stir with every wind of heaven, to catch all the dew of the morning, all the light of the sun, all the wealth of the shower; room for the singing birds, room to leaf, to blossom, to fruit. Room! The iron bars protect you from beneath, but a whole sky is waiting for you up above. So, whilst the New Testament rings us round with protective prohibitions, Jesus Christ stands over us like a sky, pouring down upon us richest influence, and drawing forth all the powers of our nature to their fullest perfection. There is room for our whole personality, our bodily instincts, mental faculties, imagination, wit, judgment, logic, speculation; for our social instincts, all the sensibilities of kinship, friendship, patriotism; for our ethical sense, for our heart with all its wealth of affection. Christianity is not wide enough for a theatre at one end and a prize ring at the other, but wide enough for whatever is true and pure in knowledge, science, art, pleasure, patriotism, business, love. We are not straitened in Christ; let us not be straitened in ourselves, but so live in the faith of the Lord Jesus that all the riches of our nature may be realized, that we may "come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
III. FOR THE STRENGTHENING OF OUR LIFE IN ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1. In Christ we attain completeness alike in spiritual and in practical virtue. Holiness is that side of goodness which looks towards God; morality is that side which looks towards society. And in both Christ perfects us — filling us with reverence, admiration, love toward God, and strengthening us to fulfil all practical virtue.
2. In Christ we attain completeness in universal virtue. If we have the Spirit of Christ, it will display itself in every possible virtue — that Spirit being the essence of universal virtue. Just as in the doctrine of the convertibility of force, we are taught that heat may become light, and light electricity, and electricity magnetism, and magnetism chemical affinity, and chemical affinity be changed into motion — one force with many manifestations — so the Spirit of Christ displays itself, now as meekness, now as courage, now as temperance, now as purity, just as circumstances require, but yet is all the time the one same Divine force. It makes of one a good master, another a good servant; one a good prince, another a good subject; one a good husband, another a good wife; one a good parent, another a good child. The Spirit of Christ fits men for every rank, adorns them with every grace. Ye "are complete in Him." Conclusion: We must feel condemned for our incompleteness; and yet from time to time how near we come to a life altogether full, rich, glorious 1 One of our magazines had a striking paragraph, entitled, "I have touched the gold," and it went on to relate how a diver uttered these words on coming up from a sunken gold ship, and the writer proceeded to show how in religion we often touch the gold and yet never quite realize it. Oh! how often have we touched the gold — the strength that more than overcomes, the perfect peace, the faith which asks and receives, the love that many waters cannot quench, the purity that keeps itself pure, the joy that is unspeakable, the hope full of glory — we touch the gold, we always know when we touch gold it is such a pleasant feeling, and yet fail to possess it. Let us trust in Christ- with all our heart; let us do it now, so shall every man be presented perfect in Him.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: