As we grow in our faith and seek to live as disciples of King Jesus, there is a real and present danger along this journey of discipleship; its the danger of 'over complicating' the gospel and in the process potentially confusing both mature and not so mature disciples. In the section of Paul's letter that we read and reflect on today, he reminds them of the ultimate 'discipleship goal' (vs 28) and he highlights the significance of this goal by declaring that it is toward this goal, that he, Paul, strenuously contends in order to achieve it. The discipleship goal is this; to present everyone fully mature in Christ. As part of Paul's approach to helping the young church stay focused on what is important, he provides two cautions, one key focus and a promise.
Two cautions - vs 4 and vs 8. Don't be deceived by fine sounding arguments and don't be taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy. Collectively, these two cautions present the young church then, and us now, with tangible markers that serve as blinking amber lights; don't allow yourself to be deceived and don't be taken captive. The evil one will try various ways to side track the disciple of Jesus so take notice of this caution, this warning. Both focus on the mind, the thoughts, the centre of perception yet their approach is slightly different. Together they potentially sideline the disciple, and neutralise any missional advance. Be careful of subtle manipulative discussions and aggressive bold assertions.
One key focus - vs 6 continue to live your lives in Christ. Paul adds further emphasis in vs 9 when he says that the fullness of the Deity is in Christ AND by means of us living in Christ, we, the disciples of Jesus, have been brought to fullness. Paul says something similar about the impact of being 'in Christ' in 2 Cor 5:17 - "if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation". And Jesus speaks of similar implications although he uses different language, when he says 'I am the Vine and you are the branches' and emphasises that we need to remain in the vine.
One Promise - God has made you alive with Christ - just in case this was not clear to you. And because you are alive with Christ, his Spirit enables you and empowers you to continue IN CHRIST. Don't over complicate things; don't let deceitful arguments and aggressive persuasion sideline you and draw you away from Jesus. Continue to live the reality of who you are. Let your self-talk be God-talk. Tell yourself what God tells you - you belong to Him, you are His.