Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
Beware of cheaters. Well that’s pretty good advice; but what is the Apostle Paul talking about here? Cheat you out of what? What is “philosophy and empty deceit”? Traditions of men, principles of the world…. what does all that mean? Let’s find out by looking at the verse piece by piece:
The rest of the verse really doesn’t mean much if you don’t grasp the true meaning of “beware”. It means to be on guard, alert, watchful of your surroundings. It means PAY ATTENTION, be on the look out. So Paul is telling us to look out for and be alert for the “cheaters”….
Lest Anyone Cheat You
The type of cheating in question here is not like cheating on test. It refers to robbing someone; of stealing something away from another in a subtle, deceptive manner. In the context of this verse, what is the cheater after?
The Colossian church was already having problems with false teachers. What do false teachers steal? The truth about Christ. The blessings of God. The cheaters can rob you of the full relationship Jesus wants to have with you. How?
Through Philosophy and Empty Deceit
Philosophy is the “love of wisdom” and is more than just an academic pursuit; it is rooted in pride with the thought that man can figure out the universe all by himself. It can take the form of conceit believing that only certain people have (or can) obtain this “enlightened” understanding of life. Those people who feel like they have “arrived” at this special status of “wisdom” are, of course, threatened by the Bible which gives the answers about life to anyone who wants to read it.
Colossians 2:4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. (NKJV)
The philosophers and false teachers were very persuasive. They were good talkers, good debaters and appealed to the flesh. Beware of teaching today dressed up in Christian clothes that appeals primarily to the materialistic or fleshly aspects of life. The more it appeals to our flesh, the more persuasive it can be.
According to the Tradition of Men
The philosophies and deceit were rooted in the “traditions of men”. What are they? It’s basically the attempt that man has made to explain the creation without considering the Creator.
An example of a “tradition of man” would be evolution, which attempts to explain life without God. The deception of evolution causes evolution-indoctrinated Christians to interpret the Bible through evolutionary thought. All of a sudden, the Bible can’t mean what it plainly says because it doesn’t agree with evolutionary theory.
Another modern tradition would be the more extreme versions of the “health and wealth Gospel” which filters the entire Bible through the idea that the wealthier you are, the more faith you have (see note below*). Another common tradition of man is the idea that all religous paths lead to God and no single religion is the exclusively correct.
All of these are very deceitful, dangerous and persuasive philosophies that man has concocted. Unfortunately there are dozens we could point out. So beware…
According to the Basic Principles of the World
The “basic principles of the world” are the simplistic, superstitous and immature ideas that man inevitably devises when God is absent from society, or abandoned by the individual. It’s fairly humorous how advanced, complex and enlightened ungodly thinkers believe they are, when in reality their ideas are silly and preposterous for the most part. I know that I will take a good beating for saying it, but our modern pyschologies and even science itself is full of laughable nonsense; why? Because so many of the theories, therapies, diagnosis, treatments and conclusions are formulated from a basic worldview of naturalism (ie, God doesn’t exist).
Not only is God removed from consideration but any answer/solution/theory that might even slightly confirm or imply that God exists is completely avoided no matter how much the evidence might support the idea. The “basic principles of the world” are the ideas that men formulate without considering God.
In a nutshell, we are to be watchful and alert for the very persuasive false teachers who can rob you of the truth and God’s blessing by filling your head with nonsense devised apart from God’s Word.
That is a warning that may even be more important today because man has had 2000 years to distort, twist and confuse the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The deceitful philosophies have become quite polished, perfected and appealing. Beware….
Lord, Help us to be alert for false teaching that would rob us of truth and blessing. Help us to discern the difference between Your Truth and the traditions of men. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you beware of false teaching? If not, do you think you are immune to being deceived? Do you scrutinize and evaluate everything you are taught by comparing it against the plain Word of God? Do you ask the Holy Spirit for discernment and protection from false teaching?
Application: We live in dangerous times. There are MANY persuasive, deceitful and attractive philosphies within the walls of evangelical Christianity that threatened to rob the Body of blessing and truth. The only cure is to beware, be watchful, be alert by continuing to grow in the Word and be on guard in prayer, asking God through the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and discernment.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?
*Note: God most certainly does materially bless His children according to His will and good pleasure. There are many financial principles found throughout Scripture that declare the blessings of God both materially and spiritually for the righteous and faithful. My comment refers to those who have hijacked those principles and turned God into a “rub his belly the right way and get your wish” type of god; and shamefully exploit the Gospel message and Scripture to their own financial benefit – primarily by appealing to the same materialistic greed in their followers.