These are some preliminary thoughts on judgment in Colossians 2:16 and 17 that read:

Colossians 2:16-17

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Messiah.

This is a very popular verse that people use to discredit people who attempt to honor the Sabbath or festivals that God has called his own. As I examine this I just really want to try and break this down a little bit. So we know that he starts this entire passage with “therefore.”

Erasing the Record That Stood Against Us

So there is something that we need to know that allows us to be armed against people condemning us in matters of food and drink. Start back up at Colossians 2:13-15. It says “and when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” Now, let’s just pause it and realize he is speaking to Gentiles when he is writing the book of Colossians and believing Gentiles predominantly. He says okay, so those of you who are dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh God made you alive together with him. Now. When did he do that? When did we become alive together with him? It’s one he forgave us all our trespasses. And so how did he forgive our trespasses? “By erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands.” So just like in the natural world, when you break the law it’s filed on your record you go to appear before a judge. The judge judges you according to what is on your record. And if he can convict you of another violation of the law that also goes on your record and so it starts to pile up. No different are the laws of God, every person has violated the laws of God multiple times and that stood against us. In other words, if we were to die without the salvation that the Messiah offers we would be judged according to our transgressions and violations of the word of God.

In fact, even as believers will be judged according to the word of God. Now, thankfully we have an advocate who has done exactly what the scripture says and that is who has wiped away or erased the record that stood against us. So the record or the law is not the problem here. The problem is just like in the world, the breaking of the law that’s done by humanity.

What’s really interesting here is it says that this stood against us with its legal demands. So in other words, it demanded an answer, it demanded an account, but then it says the Messiah, he, set this aside nailing it to the cross. In other words, it’s like he disregards it. He disregards what the law demanded of us (and we could not give an answer let’s make that plainly clear, no man can atone for his own failings and sin), but the Messiah sets it aside, sets aside what the law demands. He doesn’t set aside the law. He sets aside its requirements or its judgments for those who violate it, by nailing it to the cross.

Disarming Rulers and Authorities

The act of doing this in verse 15 says:

Colossians 2:15

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

So in the cross, he makes a public example of rulers and authorities and there’s one way he does it, by disarming them. Now, I want you to think about this. If you disarm someone it means they had a weapon that they were planning on using against you.

We know that Ephesians 6:10-12 tells us that this battle is against spiritual rulers and authorities, spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. We all have these problems in our conscience. We all have these problems where these antagonist spirits, the Accuser of the Brethren, all these things that have stood against the people of God for well as long as they’ve been alive. They weaponized themselves against us, and their number one weapon is our shortcomings, our failings, and violations of what God requires. And that right there stands against us at the conscious level and is very strong.

I’ve met many believers who love the Father, love Messiah and yet the shame of their guilt is almost too much to bear. They’re so conscious of their sins and their shortcomings and the places where the law demands judgment. And the adversary, Satan, and his hosts of wickedness are so weaponized against us and they constantly try to keep us in bondage to our previous and our past failings.

We are forgiven all our sins, and the warrant that the law had out for our arrest is torn up. Christ so fully satisfied the righteous demands of God on our behalf that we are freed from the curse of the law; and the demonic powers that loved to torment us with guilt and enslave us with legalism are disarmed and defeated.

Yeshua Disarms Judgment and Condemnation

Yet what’s interesting here is it reminds me of a situation in John 8:1-11 where there’s a woman caught in adultery and it’s a physical observance of what I’m speaking of at the spiritual level. That is they catch this woman while Yeshua’s sitting down to teach people and they interrupt his teaching and they bring this woman who they say is caught in the act of adultery and then they quote what the law demands. They say this woman deserves to be stoned.

So now read that the lens of Colossians 2, the Messiah is encountered with what his Father, what he was a part of setting in place. The law’s not wrong. It demands her to be stoned. That’s what her sin demands and that’s righteous and that’s justice and that is what would be correct in a black and white world. When you take out the ability for God to extend mercy she demands to be stoned just like all of us.

But he disarms them. So they bring this weapon against her, and really even against him, and yet he makes a public spectacle of them by disarming and by stripping them of the very thing they’re using as the weapon, that is the laws of God – the judgments of God. What he does is he puts them in the same plane as her, he makes them like her by saying, “he who is without sin cast the first stone.(John 8:7)” So what’s interesting is that he paints everyone now as in the same boat or in the same condition as this woman who was just caught in the act of adultery. That everyone is guilty and deserving of a stone being thrown at them.

What’s beautiful about this is that he makes a public spectacle of them. He does this publicly. That’s a picture of what he has done on the cosmic level against sin and the consciousness of sin in the life of a Believer. He disarms the spirits that want to accuse us when we are found in violation of his law. Now, let me have a very important side note. And that is I am not speaking to those who intentionally and willfully neglect the laws and commands of God.

If you have no desire in your heart to follow the Father in the things that he has set forth clearly in his Word, (the Messiah said if you love me, you will obey my commands), if you have no heart for that, or have no desire for, then this message is not for you. This message is for those who find yourself desiring to do what is right. Find yourself in a state of humility and repentance and yet there’s a consciousness against you that plagues you. There’s a weapon that’s being used against you and it may be those places where you’re found guilty of violating the laws of God. So now let’s go back to where we’ve all started this, I want to put some pieces together.

Let No One Pass Judgement on You…

Remember he’s speaking to Gentiles who have been saved. Who’ve been grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel. Who are now made accepted and part of the Beloved and yet their past is checkered and littered with failings and violations of the laws of God, much like myself, much like many of us who are listening.

He’s saying, in your attempt to do what is right. I mean, they’re starting to adopt principles and they’re replacing pagan things with things of the faith. For example, they’re replacing pagan celebrations and ways that they would honor the gods of the pagan world. They were certainly replacing it with the very real reality of things like Passover. 1 Corinthians 5:8 tells us, speaking to a Gentile congregation, “therefore keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Hebrews 4:9 tells us “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” We know that Isaiah 56:6 talks about the foreigner who keeps Yahweh’s Sabbath. And these foreigners that Paul’s writing to in Colossians, they had no history here. They’re not sure about how to do all this. I mean much like many of us. It’s like driving down a windy road. We’re on the right side in the ditch then we come overcorrect and we’re over here in the left side were trying to stay on the road and yet it’s difficult. Most of the time because of ignorance.

What Paul saying here is beautiful. He is saying. In your attempt to do what’s right and your attempt to navigate this path, your attempt to walk like the Rabbi Yeshua and your attempt to live life in the reality of the New Covenant. Previously your minds were alienated from God you were enemies. Maybe just last week you were dead in your trespasses and now you’re alive together in God. It’s a beautiful thing. But guess what, you’re going to have plenty of reasons to be judged. I think about the past few years as I’ve attempted to honor the Sabbath. I think about how many times I’ve scraped my knees. I’m just as guilty today as I was before I even had the Sabbath on my radar, before I was even saved. I’m just as guilty today because I can’t keep it perfectly. I’m not the Messiah. I don’t have full understanding, but my heart is right and what he’s saying is “Hey, listen to verse 16 Jacob.”

Colossians 2:16

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.

Don’t let anyone condemn you in these matters. So as you attempt to do it right guess what you’re going to be in a position where when you stumble, somebody could bring an account against you and say Jacob didn’t keep this Feast correctly, and here’s why. They might be right, but what Paul is saying is don’t let them condemn you because the weapon they’re using against you, and that’s judgment on account of your violation of law. Guess what? It’s been set aside. It’s been nailed to the cross. That’s the beauty of the New Covenant if you read Hebrews 9 and 10, and we’ll go into that another message sometimes. Hebrews 9 and 10, the beauty of it is that the Messiah, when he comes and does the will of God, he inaugurates the covenant in his blood and crux of all of it is “therefore I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)

When the Father “Remembers”, it Means He “Acts on Behalf Of”

The Father, when he remembers something in the scriptures, he is moved to action on behalf of. Like when Noah is in the boat. And he’s floating along, the whole world’s flooded. But when God remembers Noah what happens? A few verses later the waters begin to recede. When God remembers something he acts on behalf of it.

It’s just like that when God chooses to no longer remember our sins. In fact, Isaiah tells us that it’s really for his own good. He says I choose to no longer remember your sins. The Father does it for his own sake! And really we get the benefit of it. He blots out our transgressions.

“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” – Isaiah 43:25 The Father’s saying, Jacob, I choose in my own willfulness as a merciful father I choose to not act upon your violation of my law. Even though you’re guilty and guys were always going to be guilty. There’s none perfect. Now, we make it our aim to be well-pleasing but we’re constantly learning, we’re always seeing through a glass dimly. And he knows that. Be encouraged as you attempt to understand the matters of food and drink. Paul says, whether eating or drinking, we do everything to the glory of God. As you attempt to do that, as you attempt to observe festivals in a way that’s honoring to him. For festivals that take up as much time as they do in our year, the seven festivals not to mention the weekly Sabbath, the appointments with God, for how much time they actually take up, very little is written about them. So as we attempt to observe them, in a way that honors the Father and glorifies Yeshua, as we attempt to understand the Sabbaths, the purpose, the eternal picture, and press into them and press into Yahweh and be sanctified by him, we’re going to mess up. But when we do he says don’t let anyone condemn you. Don’t let anyone demand judgment against you and don’t let that violate your conscience. Don’t let that get you down. Don’t let that condemn you. Don’t receive that condemnation because you’re trying to press into the Messiah. These are just shadows.

The Father sees our heart and as he sees our heart and we’re pressing into the substance that belongs to the Messiah. Be encouraged, the Father will reveal himself to us, he wants us to find him! He has shown us how to find him, he has given us times and appointments to meet with Him. His Son did these things. The apostles did these things. Don’t let someone today condemn you in these matters. These are matters directly from God. Honor the commands, keep the feasts, observe the Sabbath, seek his face and you will find him. May the Father give you peace, strength, and grace as you attempt to honor and glorify his name on the earth.

Additional Reading

Please read this additional article to learn more about the purpose of God's laws.

Posted by Jacob Hopson

I am a follower of Yeshua. A husband to Naomi and a father to five beautiful children. My passion is to teach God's Word and to see the body of Messiah grow. I am a co-founder of Path of Obedience and currently live in East Texas.

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