“And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:10 NKJV
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Colossae, was faced with the challenge of spiritually encouraging this relatively young church while at the same time refuting the Gnostic beliefs that had been creeping into the church. After having just exhorted the church to beware of the philosophies of man that deviate from Christ, Paul takes the next several verses to teach them that in Christ is where the fulfillment is found. Beginning in the verse above, Paul teaches that believers are “complete in Him,” meaning Christ. But what does this completion mean and what does it include?
First let’s address what this completion includes, so that we can better understand how we are complete in Christ. In the verses that follow, Paul outlines 3 specific components of this completion that is provided in Christ. The first comes in verses 11-12, “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” There are multiple complex references in these two verses, but for our purpose, let us focus on the declaration that those who are in Christ have been circumcised “without hands.” This refers to a circumcision of the heart, the New Testament spiritual counterpart to the Old Testament physical ritual. Deuteronomy 30:6 says, “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” We read in Romans 2:25-29:
“25For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.”
In this passage, though complex, we can begin to understand that the physical Old Testament ritual of circumcision is of no value, unless you can obey the law perfectly. However, spiritual circumcision performed by the hand of God is a matter of the heart, as we read in our earlier passage from Colossians. This regenerative work of the heart is God’s action in us that becomes complete when we trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior of our life. We are complete in Christ through Salvation by our circumcision in Him.
We find the second piece of our completion in Christ in Colossians 2:13 ESV, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” We who were dead in trespasses, God made alive, or as Romans 5:8 says, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” and Ephesians 2:5 affirms, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” How can we possibly be dead in our sins and made alive with Christ? That old dead man was made alive in Christ through His death on the cross, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:5 ESV Salvation through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection provided not only eternal life, but also the forgiveness of sins, our second part of completion in Christ. God sent His Son Jesus forth to be a propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25 ESV), meaning He satisfied the legal demands of God’s justice towards us the sinner, as we read in Colossians 2:14, “by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Likewise, Jesus averted God’s wrath from us onto Himself. The Son of God purchased for us not only the forgiveness of sins, but also forgiveness of our sinfulness and in doing so satisfied the Holy demands of God. We are complete in Christ through Forgiveness.
Finally, we are complete in Christ through Victory. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him.” Colossians 2:15 ESV We are complete in Christ through salvation, forgiveness, and now victory because the cross severed the ruling power of Satan in our lives. He is no longer our master and sin no longer has dominion over us. We have been set free and can stand in the place of victory because of Jesus Christ. In Genesis 3:15, God alludes to His forthcoming plan of salvation in His declaration of the curse on Adam, Eve and speaking here to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Paul speaks to this in Romans 16:20 as he states, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” and similarly the author of Hebrews writes, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” Jesus Christ defeated Satan and the principalities of darkness with His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection proving that He could also reign over death. As Romans 6:4 says, “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Victory is ours in Christ. Stand in it and work down from it, knowing that it has already taken place. Completion in Christ means that through His atoning, sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection, all of the work has been done and our justification is therefore by His grace through faith. We can’t try harder or work more to obtain a right standing with God. We are complete in Christ.