Colossians

part 04


 

First danger & answer:

4a Enticing words--walk in Christ




And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.  For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord,  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.


Col.2:4-7


4a.1 Beguiling words


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

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving (= beguiling) your own selves.
Jms.2:22
 
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


4a.2 Be Steadfast 



For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ
 
Col.2:5

Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall

I Cor.10:12


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:
Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
II Cor.11:1-3


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.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  But of the fruit of the tree which in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil; And when the woman saw that the tree good for food, and that it pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Gen.3:1-6


 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.

4a.3 As ye received...so walk


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.