Beware!

26 04 2020

McKee Road Baptist – April 26, 2020 AM Worship

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Introduction:

Daily, for the past three to four months we have been alerted to the
dangers of the Coronavirus by the news media. There has not been a dearth of
information regarding this pandemic. The coverage has been non-stop with each news
agency interviewing a different “expert’ every day. The warning is to stay alert. We must
stay alert, because, as we have been informed this disease is highly contagious and in
some will cause death.

We have been asked to keep ourselves separated from others. When we must go out,
we have been asked to keep at least six feet of distance between each other. The
experts have told us that we should also wear masks. This is to keep any air-borne
droplets from being transmitted to others. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the
air. If not transmitted, by someone as close as three feet, they can be transmitted from
other sources such as floors or surfaces. A person can become infected by touching a
surface that has the virus and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing
your hands.

Like many other churches we have determined it best to practice safe habits during the
COVID-19 pandemic and have chosen to not gather together for a time. Meanwhile
many of us have been blessed by countless “live-feed,” Facebook messages we have
watched on our media devices. I am reminded of the story of Joseph, when he told his
brothers in Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it
unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. God is using the
bad things to promote His gospel. But we must be alert as we watch so many that
speak as an authority to the possibility, we might have consumed false teaching

We must be alert spiritually, because there are dangers to our faith. We must keep our
eyes and ears open and be aware of what is happening around us. There are those
who would pervert the truth of Christianity. This perversion manifests itself in subtle
ways. Without a doubt you have already encountered dangerous teachings. Our text
today gives us a stern warning against any teaching that would detract from Christ.
When Paul wrote this letter there was a subtle and powerful false teaching that was
threatening to infiltrate the Colossian church. We know that it contained elements of
false philosophy. Throughout the letter, Paul switches back and forth between his
seeming attack of Jewish elements of this false teaching, and his attack on the Greek
elements of this false teaching. This false teaching, this heresy, was a blend of these
two philosophies.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

“Beware” means: “to look at,” but it is also used of mental functions like: “direct one’s
attention to something, watch, beware, be on guard.” It is a command for a constant
circumspect watchfulness, because of the dangers lurking at every corner.
The idea is “look out”. The idea is: “guard yourself from this”. The idea is: “beware of
this”. That is how it is used in Philippians chapter 3 when Paul talks about the Judaizers
(Those that teach it is necessary to adopt Jewish customs and practices to be saved.)

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

The Colossian Christians were to: “Beware lest anyone spoil you…” It is a compound
word which means: “booty”, as in booty that you would capture, and “ago”, which
means: “to lead or carry”. It is to carry away a prize won in battle. It’s to be taken
captive.

The brethren at the church in Colosse were in danger of being kidnapped by error. Paul
was warning the brethren that they can be taken captive by wrong philosophy, wrong
teaching, false doctrine. Such teaching only works to deprive believers of their liberty in
Christ. These teachings can hold them hostage for years, if not for the rest of their lives.
Note: contrary to what the world believes, nobody is freer than a Christian. Nobody.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,
and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

There is always the danger of being caught up in false teaching in one way or another.
That is why it is most important to guard yourself. It is so important to the life and the
health of the church and to the members that make up the church.

Some of us are old enough to remember the People’s Temple Christian Church. Jim
Jones was leader of the People’s Temple Christian Church. On November 18, 1978, in
Guyana, Jim Jones murdered 909 people, mostly his followers and then committed
suicide. One of the most frightening discoveries about the People’s Temple Christian
Church was that a large majority of its members came from Christian homes of one sort
or another. Most people that joined the church did so because they believed it offered a
higher experience of Christian living. Paul’s warning is very pertinent to the church
today. Beware!

Note: every false teacher may not be a Jim Jones but every false teacher is dangerous.
Paul knew the danger. That is why he struggled so hard in the ministry. That’s why he
wrote, back in chapter 2, verse 1: “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for
you…”.

Paul goes on to say, “Beware lest anyone spoil you through philosophy…”
What’s philosophy? Very simply define it as: “the love of wisdom”. “Philos” is the
Greek word for love. “Sophos” is the Greek word for wisdom.

The love of wisdom is a good thing in many cases. There are good and bad
philosophies, but what the apostle has in mind here, of course, is the danger the
Colossians are facing of being seduced by bad philosophy.

In the first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote in one of his books, “There are
three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of whom are the Pharisees, of the second the Sadducees, and the third sect called the Essenes”. That
said every age has battled against expounders of false philosophy.

Paul is talking about something very specific here. But there is application here for us
today. We fight against any philosophy that detracts from the sufficiency of Jesus Christ
and the purity of His Word is to be rejected.

One theologian said, “There are too many ‘ball-park’ interpreters and expositors today.
The theological atmosphere of evangelicalism is saturated with a dense fog of
uncertainty and misplaced emphasis in handling the Word of God. Many churches are
on the rocks because of careless hermeneutics (The study of the principles of
interpretation concerning the Bible.), ignorance of Biblical languages, and unsystematic
theology (Systematic theology formulates an orderly, rational and coherent account of
the doctrines of the Christian faith. So, unsystematic theology would be everything that
systematic theology is not.) Rough estimates as to what this or that passage means will
not do. We need qualified expositors who will take the time and make the necessary
sacrifices to do their homework well and bring clarity to the minds of God’s people as
they read and study God’s holy Word.”

Today we live in an age where the philosophy of many is this; do not offend me, do not
bore me, do not preach long, do not preach doctrine but make me feel good about
myself. Do this they say and your church will grow. I site the following paragraph as one
example of proof.

Many remember the Crystal Cathedral of Garden Grove, California. It was a massive
structure constructed with reflective glass and at one time was touted as “the largest
glass building in the world.” Its founder, Robert Schuller once said: “For the church to
address the unchurched with a theocentric (that means a God-centered) attitude is to
invite failure in mission. The non-churched who have no vital belief in a relationship with
God will spurn, reject, or simply ignore the theologian, church spokesperson, preacher,
or missionary who approaches with Bible in hand, theology on the brain and the lips,
and expects nonreligious persons to suspend their doubts and swallow the theocentric
assertions as fact”.

You see, Schuller’s premise was built around the assertion that those that are
unregenerate (the lost) are transformed through human ingenuity and not through a
sovereign act of God’s grace through faith in the Word of the Living God. By the way the
former denomination of this church was listed as Reformed Church in America it is now
listed as Roman Catholic.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God
unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Paul says that it is the Gospel that is the power of God. Our responsibility is to proclaim
the Gospel. God will take care of how the heart responds to that.

There are many philosophies in our day that are deceiving young people, as well as
many adults. We hear this philosophy much of the time. It is called, “Tolerance”, which
says, “No one can say what is right and what is wrong”.

Some will say that adultery, abortion or homosexuality is wrong for them, but who are
you to decide for everyone else. A recent Gallup Poll, declared that 82% of college students say they believe in no absolute truths. It comes down to this: anything goes out
there. Morality of man is every man for himself. Right and wrong is no longer based on
absolutes, but on individual opinion.

It should be said that this is nothing new. We have just found a way to place a
percentage of those that believe this way. I am reminded that there has always been an
element that believed this. Isaiah said, Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put biter for sweet, and sweet for
bitter. Isaiah 5:20. Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every
man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Without a moral compass, people cannot make rational decisions about what is right
and wrong for themselves or for society. We are told that you cannot decide if an
unborn baby is a human being or a blob of tissue, because we have listened to the
rhetoric of the “politically correct” instead of checking out the medical facts that life
begins at conception, an absolute supported completely by the Bible.

Believers, we are engaged today in a battle between worldviews. We must understand
and defend a Biblical worldview in all of life. We must make it our goal to impart this
Biblical worldview to the youth who will lead the next generation. Make it your legacy.

Vain Deceit

Paul goes on to describe this philosophy as “and vain deceit”. “Vain deceit” describes
“philosophy”. The idea is that the particular philosophy Paul had been warning his
readers about was vain deception. These are not two separate dangers.

“Vain deceit” describes the nature of human philosophy. “Vain” means “empty.” It is (a)
“without content, without any basis, without truth, without power,” or (b) of the effects,
“without result, without profit, without effect, without reaching its goal”.

The word “deceit”, was used of the seductive deception that comes from wealth (Mark
4:19), and “the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). It is vain (empty) deceit. But what
does it mean to be deceived? “Deceit” means: “to cheat, deceive, beguile. It is that
which gives a false impression whether by appearance, statement or influence”. This
empty philosophy connives and misleads, it deceives or lies to people about what is
true.

Human philosophy simply said are the human traditions and principles of the world. It is
not according to the person and work of Christ.

After the tradition of men

This is the origin of false teaching. It is from the devices of men and not the voice of
God. “Tradition” means: “a handing down or a handing over”.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye
have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

There are good traditions. But they are the traditions of God. In our text in Colossians,
what is being condemned are the “tradition of men ” it is of men.
We must “beware” that our traditions do not contradict the Word of God. Because if they
do, they are error. If it goes against the Bible, it is not of God.

Paul tell us that these “vain” (empty), deceptive philosophies depend on human
tradition. They arise out of the thinking of men and then are passed along from
generation to generation so as to appear popular and widely supported. Hardly anyone
dares question them, because everybody believes them. An obvious example today is
the theory of evolution. Evolution is now being widely challenged on a scientific level.
Many evolutionists are beginning to question Darwin’s view. But it wasn’t all that long
ago that the theory of evolution was almost universally accepted.

Remember, with “philosophy”, there are biblical or divine traditions that have their
source in God’s special revelation, and human traditions; those that come from man’s
own ideas and theories.

Many people do not evaluate what they believe for themselves. They believe it simply
because their family believed it, “My mom told me so”. How you do know it is true? “I
never question it”. A person without healthy skepticism is vulnerable to seduction.
The test question should be: “Can it be substantiated by the Bible?”

Remember, human philosophy is: drawn from human traditions, and it is inspired by
basic principles of the world.

After the rudiments of the world

What are “the rudiments of the world”? Rudiment means anything in a row or series. It
was used of the letters of the alphabet (alpha, beta, gamma, delta; or in our vernacular,
a, b, c, d). It was used of numbers in a series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). It was used of soldiers in
rank and file down a line. It had to do with was anything in a series. It came to be
understood in the sense of elementary things (like the ABC’s of life).

The “rudiments of the world” was a reference to the religious practices the false
teachers were promoting in Paul’s day.

Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world,
why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

Here Paul is talking about Jewish laws.

Colossians 2:16-17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of
an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of
things to come; but the body is of Christ.

It you look at its use in Galatians, you again see its Jewish usage.

Galatians 4:3-5 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the
elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his
Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the
law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

These “rudiments of the world” was part of Jewish legalism. They were the rudiments as
taught them by the law, as their schoolmaster. They were subject to a lifetime of
bondage to these rudiments of Jewish law.

So, this human philosophy is described as: being drawn from human traditions, being
inspired by basic principles of Judaism, and it is not according to the person and work
of Christ, “…and not after Christ.”

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

This verse can be summarized as the contrast between that which is according to Christ and everything else. Whatever we think of “philosophy”, “vain deceit”, “tradition of men”, or “after the rudiments of the world”, the bottom line is that these can be seen to be totally
against Jesus Christ.

That is the key. It is not according to Christ. Just as grace plus anything else equals
zero. If you add anything to grace, you negate grace. In the same way, Christ plus
anything else equals zero. You cannot make any additions to Jesus Christ, or you
subtract from His all-sufficiency. Everything we do, everything we are as believers in
Jesus Christ must be according to Jesus Christ.

Remember if you are a child of God, He was sufficient to save you. That is what the
gospel is all about. But is He sufficient for you in every area of your life, for every need
of your life, in your relationships, in your marriage, at your job, for your every spiritual
and material need? Is He sufficient? To say, “No” is to deny His sufficiency. He is
sufficient. We need to teach and proclaim that truth and uphold it. We need to
encourage one another to live in His truth. We need to warn each other against
anything, any philosophy, any tradition that is not according to Christ.

Conclusion:

We must open our spiritual eyes. If you are spiritually aware you will be
able to testify that God is at work. Many see this time as one of inconvenience to their
daily routine. Many proclaim that it is just an added exercise that is totally unnecessary.
One day we will be able to better judge these days in our lives and whether all steps
taken were necessary but until that day happens, step back and get God’s perspective.
Watch and see what He is doing. Position yourself to be right in the middle of His will
and further the cause of His kingdom.

McKee Road Baptist Members, “…Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:2

Pastor Don Thomason


Actions

Information




%d bloggers like this: