From the simplicity in Christ
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing (=persuasive) words.
B2.1 The Foundation
All that follows in this section, whether it be Vain Philosophy, Legalism or even Mysticism, is a result in one way or another of enticing words. The end results may be different, but they all start with some form of words that entice, which when listened to, takes one’s eyes off Christ and lead astray.
Paul, before expounding any danger, has shown to us clearly the foundation that has already been laid, and that foundation is the Lord Jesus Himself. Paul, in the first section, made a great deal of the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason for doing so was to show that Christ is the preeminent one, and that salvation is to be found in Him alone. This was all laid out for us so that we would be on guard against enticing, or persuasive words.
… But let every man take how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Christ Jesus
The context of these verses is about building on this foundation, and how we must take care. This is very apposite with regards to the warnings in Colossians. One may start well but, there is the real danger that, unless we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, we will be taken off course.
B2.2 Beguiled from simplicity
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, For He that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye received another spirit, which have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might bear well with him.
II Cor. 11:3-4
Note that Paul says clearly that the Gospel is simplicity in Christ, it is not complicated at all. As we have already emphasised, it is all by His Grace through Faith. The work of salvation has been accomplished once and for all at Calvary and vindicated by the resurrection. We just enter that finished work by faith.
The word beguiled used here, according to Vine, is a strong word and could be translated: thoroughly deceived. We have Paul saying that the Devil did a thorough job in deceiving Eve, and it was through his subtilty. We shall consider the incident in the garden of Eden in the next study.
But note what Paul says: another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel.
Another Jesus whom Paul did not preach. Now look at the Jesus preached by Paul as laid out in section I. That is the Jesus of the Gospel, not some figment of men’s imaginations.
In testing any teaching, the first question has to be: what say ye of Christ? Is it the Jesus that Paul preached, or its it another Jesus?
It is quite clear that the Jesus of the Gnostics does not match up at all to the Jesus whom Paul preached.
A spirit you did not received. If we are born again then we have received the Spirt of God. How do we know that we have the Spirit of God? Or in the context of Colossians: how do we know the teachings being put forward are true and of God? Scripture is very clear. In fact, Jesus Himself spelt it out.
B2.3 He shall glorify Jesus.
And when He [ ie the Holy Spirit, the comforter] is come He will reprove (=expose) the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgement. Of sin because they believe not on Me. Of righteousness because I go to the Father and ye see Me no more. Of judgement because the prince of this world is judged…Howbeit it when the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth for He shall not speak of Himself but whatsoever He shall hear that shall He speak and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me for He shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you.
In this passage we see what the Holy Spirit’s ministry is. Firstly, it is to convict of sin. Notice the reason, because people do not believe on Jesus. This is the ultimate sin, not to believe on the Son of God whom the Father sent.
Of righteousness because Jesus went back to the Father. The Father’s acceptance of His Son back to glory was an open declaration that He was pleased with His Son and of His work on Earth. What Jesus did was righteous, and the Holy Spirit reproves, or better still exposes, the world for not accepting it.
Of judgement because the Prince of this world is judged. The Devil is now judged and is awaiting the time when the final sentence of the Lake of Fire is executed.
The Holy Spirit will guide into all truth, and we note that He will speak of Christ, point men to Christ, glorify Christ and whatever He receives from the Son will show it to us. In short the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to point men and women to Christ.
B2.4 Testing the Spirits
How can we test the Spirits? By their attitude and teachings regarding Jesus.
The Gnostics fail on this test for they deny Christ’s deity, thinking He is just the last in the line of demi-gods. Legalism fails the test because the emphasis is on the self-righteous works of the flesh, thus denying the all sufficiency of Christ’s work at Calvary. Mysticism fails for similar reasons, denying the all sufficiency of Christ in His person and work.
This is the clear test that we need to use, especially in these days when many put themselves forward as being God’s answer for the time, or at least claiming to have some new revelation that gives us the answers.
The result of all this corruption from the simplicity is another gospel. We end up with is a gospel of sorts, but it is not the true one. It is not sanctioned by God, and it inevitably leads men and women astray.
There is only one Gospel that God has for us, it is revealed in Scripture. It is by grace are ye saved through Faith and not that anything of yourselves. Not of works lest anyone should boast. It was all accomplished at Calvary through Christ’s once and for all sacrifice. Anything else is false and should be shunned.