Don't be Deceived!
The message of the gospel is simple. We do nothing to earn it, nothing to deserve it, and nothing to receive it. It only takes faith, trust, and acceptance. But for many that seems too easy, so they try to add stuff to the gospel. They add additional layers of requirements, rules, and regulations in an attempt to “earn” their salvation, not realizing that God’s grace is not something any of us can earn.
Nevertheless, over the centuries people have tried to add to the gospel and some have been successful in accruing a following. In each age there are new teachings and falsehoods that circulate the church, seeking to lead many astray. Today, we have numerous sects and cults and churches steeped in legalism and tradition. Why? Because believers have been deceived into believing that there must be something they must do to earn or help God in their salvation.
During the first century, the Christians were confronted with the false doctrines of Eastern mysticism, additional rules, secular practices, and hints of early Gnosticism—the teaching of “hidden” knowledge and inner mysteries only made known to a select few. This whole combination of teachings were complete heresy, but the church of Colossae was beginning to get confused and swept away by the convincing arguments of false teachers. So Paul’s main focus in his letter was to remind them of the truth so that they might see the error, to exhort them to remain strong in the faith and resist the eloquent speech and arguments of misinformed orators, and to warn them against the false teachings of men.
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human traditions, according to the elemental spirituals of the world, and not according to Christ.”
And this warning is one we should heed also. We might not be facing threats of Gnosticism or pagan practices and traditions, but there are other false doctrines and subtle lies that are infiltrating the church today. One example that comes to the forefront is theistic evolution. On whatever issue or doctrine that is being debated, it is so easy to become swept away by the prose, arguments, and seemingly logical train of thought the opposite side presents. But we must not be deceived! No matter how eloquent or logical the argument, no matter how good things sound or seem, if it doesn’t line up with the gospel it’s false!
Therefore, Paul’s words of warning and exhortation written almost two thousand years ago still hold weight and application for us 21st century Christians. So next week as we dive into chapter one of this powerful epistle, let us open our minds and surrender our hearts to all that God has to teach and show us through the words written to the Christians at Colossae. And as we live our lives in this hostile and anti-God culture, may we remember this following exhortation from Paul and let no one and nothing disqualify us from our high calling in Christ:
“Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”
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