Paul now gives his third and final warning against listening to those who try to disqualify believers because of beliefs or behaviours that the gospel does not condemn.
Essentially he says, “Do not let anyone . . . disqualify you” (v. 18). Or make you feel inferior. Or make you feel like you are missing out and not really part of God’s people. The particular problems Paul is addressing are a little hard to tie down. There were some critics who wanted to disqualify the Colossians because of, literally, lacking in “humilities”. Of course, humility is a wonderful virtue (see Colossians 3:12), but there is also a false kind of humility. This comes from the kind of people who deny themselves things and then make you feel guilty because you do not. It is fine for you to fast or decide to give half of your income to world missionary work, but do not disqualify me on that basis because I have made other choices.
Paul then talks about the worship of angels. This may refer to some who claimed to have enjoyed dreams and visions in which they saw things that only the angels in worship have seen. Such people, then and now, go into great detail about what they have seen. Sadly, they then arrogantly make the rest of us feel inferior because we have not experienced the same. Paul is not against dreams and visions—he had both—but he did not disqualify others who had not experienced those things.
In verse 19, Paul turns the tables on the disqualifiers. They were trying to disqualify others by their judgemental attitudes when, in fact, they were the ones out of touch and in spiritual danger. They had begun to put more confidence in their own dreams, visions, and experiences than in the Lord Jesus and all He has done for us.
Sadly, it is all too common to hear Christians advocating a super spirituality, such as: just claim this promise, or pray this prayer, or complete this course, and spiritual riches undreamed of will be yours. Paul says we should not be fooled by them. Stay with Christ; stay with His body.
Have other Christians ever insisted that you need to have had a similar experience of God as them, or claimed you are missing out? How should we respond to such people?
Are there times when you have felt unworthy as a Christian? What comfort and challenge does the teaching of Colossians bring at such moments?