First danger & answer:
4a Enticing words--walk in Christ
The first danger Paul opens to us is that of being beguiled with enticing words. This really underlines all the other dangers that the apostle lists later (vain philosophy 2:8; legalism 2:16; mysticism 2:18-23). The word 'beguile' used here means to reason falsely. That is: the ideas proclaimed seem reasonable, on the surface the 'sound-bite' is good, but in reality the reasoning behind it is unsound and false.
This same Greek word is used in
In context James is talking of hearing the Word of God then doing it, otherwise he is like someone who looks in a mirror and then goes off and forgets what he looks like. Maybe he had a dirty forehead. He looks but then walks away forgetting it. He carries on regardless, his actions saying that just because he can't see the dirt after he has gone from the mirror, he must be alright. He reasons falsely - ignoring the facts already shown to him.
Paul's warning to us is similar: in spiritual things we are not to allow false reasoning to take us away from Christ. Once we have been shown the reality in God's infallible word, let us not forget it when we are out and about in daily business. There are many voices which say different things, in how we should live etc., but the only sure guide is God's Word - let us never forget it- for it alone is the one and only infallible guide.
The Gnostics did not believe that the OT was written by the one true God, instead they believed it was written by one of the 'inferior manifestations/emanations'. Today many who name the name of Christ deny Bible infallibility, and in particular deny that God wrote the OT, albeit for different reasons to that of the Gnostics; these believers instead appeal to 'learned fathers' of the 'church', or mystics, or modern day 'gurus' as their authority, All this, though, is a beguiling deception because although what they say appeals to the carnal mind and seems correct, when it is compared to God's infallible Word it does not hold up. We must be careful not to be enticed with such things.
For further discussion on Biblical infallibility click here
Paul had received a good report of the Colossian believers from Epaphras, whom he was called a faithful minister. (Col.1:5-8). In this Paul rejoices because of their steadfastness, but why then did he see fit to warn them?
No matter how strong we may think we are, no one is immuned from being deceived. Paul warns us all to take heed, and his warning to the Colossians is most apposite. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul says this:
In a similar warning to the Corinthians Paul tells them that Satan beguiles by corrupting minds of the simplicity in Christ. Linking this up with the warning too the Colossians we see that beguiling words, if received and acted upon, rob a person of the simplicity that is in Christ. Looking at the incident to which Paul refers we can learn much about the devil's tactics.
This incident is the first one recorded of Satan's tactics. It is perhaps the example par excellence of what Paul is referring to in Colossians. Let us consider it.
God said that Adam and Eve could eat of any tree, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they shall not eat, for in he day they did they would surely die (Gen.2:16-18) Now consider the first six verses of Gen.3.
The first thing to note is what Satan said: "hath God said?" Instead of a full frontal denial of what God had said he used the subtle approach of putting doubt into Eve's mind. We then note Eve's response. If the reader carefully compares what Eve reported as to what God actually said we note that it is not exactly the same; in fact she distorted God's words. This in turn led to Satan then suggesting a full denial of what God said. Finally this ended in Eve's disobedience.
We see in this Satan's way of beguiling with words. There is a doubting of God's Word, which if accepted leads to a distortion, denial and finally a disobedience of God's Word.
Pauls' answer to all the dangers he exposes in the epistle is the same. Jesus! He is the answer to all the needs of the soul. There is always the danger in the Christian life of trying to find ways of 'going on' with Christ by trying to do something or other. The number of books published on 'the higher life', or whatever the 'in thing ' is, is testimony to this trait. But all this is simply works of the flesh, and we shall come across some concrete examples later in this series.
The Christian life began in one way and one way only: by simple faith in Christ alone, trusting only on His atoning work. Here Paul says quite plainly: in the same way you started the Christian life so continue in that way. By simple faith in Christ alone. There is nothing to add to His atoning work.
One big theme of this series is the All sufficiency of the work of Christ. We do not need anything else to come to true faith in Him, and certainly we don't need anything else to continue in the Christian way. As you received Christ so walk in Him. To add anything to Christ's work is a denial of His finished work. The dangers highlighted in Colossians were the false teachings and practices that were doing the rounds in Paul's day, and were designed to add to or deny the finished work of Christ. This epistle demolishes these arguments completely.
Whatever the lure, whatever the temptation to move off to something else we are exhorted to walk in the same way that we began the Christian life. As you received Christ so walk in Him.