Author: Ron Graham
Christ, Source of All Wisdom
—plus “Mind and Flesh”
"In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). By that wisdom the church of Christ is united, perfected, and protected. This is Paul’s assertion in his letter to the Colossians.
The Power of Christ’s Wisdom
1 The Church is UNITED by Christ’s Wisdom
As we think about Christ as the source of all wisdom (Colossians 2:3), let's go back just one verse to where Paul speaks of the church being "knit together in love" (Colossians 2:2). It's popular to stop there, as though being "united in love" is the whole secret of unity in Christ’s church.
Certainly, "love is the perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:14). And certainly, there won't be much unity where there isn't much love; however Paul only starts with love. Notice Paul‘s statements in full...
Love and Wisdom
¶“2...united in love, in a rich and full understanding, in the knowledge of God’s mystery in Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).
¶“14Put on love. It is the perfect bond of unity. 15Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you with all wisdom” (Colossians 3:14-16).
So we see that unity is in both love and true wisdom —Christ’s wisdom of which Paul was a steward (Colossians 1:25-26). If unity rests in another wisdom, it is unity in error love notwithstanding.
2 Each Member is PERFECTED by Christ’s Wisdom
Paul sees the church, and each member of it, as a growing organism, becoming "perfect in Christ" (Colossians 1:28, 2:6-7).
Paul says that you can be "filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to fully please him... fruitfull in every good work... strengthened with all power... attaining full steadfastness... sharing the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:9-12).
And we could add, "...your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ... as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving" (Colossians 2:5-7),
3 Each Member is PROTECTED by Christ’s Wisdom
Three times in chapter 2, Paul warns against being cheated or deceived: " I say this lest anyone deceive you with persuasive arguments...  Beware lest anyone cheat you with philosophy and empty deceit...  Let no one cheat you of your reward" (Colossians 2:4,8,18).
How can we protect ourselves? Today thousands of “persuasive arguments” compete with the gospel, the simple wisdom of Christ —even the “argument” that Paul himself was a false apostle and invented his own Christianity in opposition to Christ!
We can be protected from all error by standing on three simple principles:
- The gospel of Christ is "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
- The gospel was fully delivered to us in scripture of the apostles like Paul.
- We can understand it.
We must insist on nothing more and nothing less than what Christ and his apostles said, and meant. We must not change their words or what they meant by those words.
Wisdom for Mind and Body
To supplement what we've learned so far, let us now consider the influence of Christ’s wisdom on the relationship between mind and flesh.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul is very concerned with our minds, the knowledge or wisdom in them, and the relationship between our minds and our fleshly bodies.
When the mind is set on the things of the flesh, people become at enmity with God and divided against each other. Conversely, when the mind fills with Christ’s wisdom, people are united with God and with each other.
Addressing sins of the flesh, Paul does not see the flesh itself as the problem. He does not believe that the flesh is inherently corrupt or depraved or evil. It is the evil in a person’s heart and mind that is the problem.
In Paul’s view, the problem is solved by filling the mind with the treasures of Christ’s wisdom, allowing Christ to “circumcise” the mind of its immoral fleshly desires and the flesh of its obedience to those desires.
You can think about this as a process: (1) Christ’s wisdom rules our minds, (2) Our enlightened minds control our flesh, (3) Our flesh throws off its evil deeds.
1 Christ’s wisdom rules our minds
A theme of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is that the human mind should be filled with the wisdom of Christ, and be rid of the teachings of worldly philosophy which are worthless against fleshly indulgence (Colossians 2:2-3, 20-23).
So Paul says, "Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth" (Colossians 3:2), and, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts" (Colossians 3:15).
This peace is not merely a calm mind. It is reconciliation, a "peace made through the blood of his cross" (Colossians 1:20). Christ, by the blood of his cross, took away all wisdom and religious rule but his own (Colossians 2:14). His wisdom, which led him to the cross, now rules our hearts.
2 Our minds control our flesh
When you have the wise “mindset” of Christ (Colossians 3:2), "the members of your earthly body are dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed..." (Colossians 3:5). This is because the fleshly mind has died, and no longer rules your body.
Paul is not talking here about normal feedback that our bodies provide to our minds (hunger, thirst, libido, fatigue, pain, etc); nor the pleasure and feelings of wellbeing when we give the body what it “asks” for.
No, the body communicating its desires to the mind does not lead to "fleshly indulgence" of the evil desires and passions of a "fleshtly mind" (Colossians 2:18,23).
Paul is not suggesting that your body will stop making you aware of its legitimate needs. Nor will you stop satisfying those needs. Rather, Paul is saying that your mind will no longer be telling your body to do things which are contrary to the wisdom of Christ.
People confuse "fleshly indulgence" with the normal nurturing and use of the fleshly body, so they impose their own useless religious rules: "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle" (Colossians 2:20-23).
3 Our flesh throws off its evil deeds
Paul speaks of a new form of circumcision. This is not a circumcision by which a small piece of flesh is cut from the body. Rather this circumcision detatches the whole "body of flesh" that obeyed the dictates of an evil heart and mind (Colossians 2:11-12).
In a manner of speaking, the old body that behaved sinfully is removed, leaving a new body that answers to the new wisdom-filled mind. This circumcision is forgiveness, and takes place by grace at baptism (Colossians 2:12).
¶"You have put off the old person and its deeds, and have put on the new self who is renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator" (Colossians 3:9-10).
The circumcision by Christ reveals a mind filled with his wisdom and knowledge, and the peace that rules the heart (Colossians 1:9-12).
What about you? Christ is the source of all wisdom.
(1) Does Christ’s wisdom rule your mind?
(2) Does an enlightened mind control your flesh?
(3) Does your flesh throw off its evil deeds?