The churches in Colossae struggled with false teachers who were leading them astray to sub-Christian forms of worship. These false teachers encouraged the Colossians to seek visionary experiences and to worship angels. Paul reminded his readers in Colossians 1 that Christ is the pre-eminent one, the firstborn of all creation:
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or Dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
Paul went on to warn them very specifically in Colossians 2:8,
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
“Elementary principles” here is a word that in Greek can refer to a certain high sphere of angelic powers. I think that is the intended meaning here.
Remember the Center
Paul is reminding the Christians in Colossae that, because they are in Christ the Lord, by virtue of the commitment of faith to Christ Jesus which is pictured in baptism, they should not try to make devotion to angelic beings the heart and center of Christian experience.
This applies to us, also. Do not seek to formulate your Christian life according to astrology, angel worship, or intense visionary experiences. That is not the center of Christian life or belief.
Paul reminded the Colossians that the heart of Christian experience is devotion to the Person of Jesus Christ. He is Lord. You are in Christ, therefore, you do not have to submit to the rituals and ceremonies imposed upon you by false teachers. Rather, you ought to set your mind on things above. (Colossians 3:2)
We are in Christ
Paul here speaks of a very great mystery, namely that we are in Christ, and our being in Him means that our lives are seated in a heavenly realm.
Our lives are now outside the sphere of this present evil age. We no longer participate, as it were, in these ordinary lives which are in a world that is under the curse of God, but in a mysterious invisible way, our lives are hidden with Christ in God. We are seated with Him in the heavenly places, so our lives are no longer to be lived after the course and pattern of this world.
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Sloan delivered on March 11, 1990 at Tallowood Baptist Church.