Don't Be Spoiled!

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:6-8)

As Christians, it must be our first priority to grow and mature in our faith. We do this by being deeply rooted in the Word of God, for indeed, that is where faith comes from:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

We need to be very careful not to be spoiled (or led astray, and ultimately enslaved) by either philosophy, vain deceit, or men's traditions. Any one of these three things that can cause us to be "spoiled".The Greek word translated as spoil here literally means "booty", as in the spoils of war. It means these things can rob you of spiritual blessings by taking you as booty, as spoils of war, and will ultimately end up enslaving you.

The verse lists the three particular manners in which we can become "spoiled":

1. Through philosophy. The Greek philosophy prevailed much in the regions around Colosse, and perhaps also the Oriental or Gnostic philosophy. The early church was exposed to the influences of all of these systems. Such philosophies consisted of much speculation regarding the nature of the Divine existence; The danger to the Colossians was that they would rely on the limited reasoning ability and the faulty and deductions of men, rather than on what they had been taught by their Christian teachers, beginning with Jesus Himself.

This is the same danger facing America today. We have learned to rely on man's thinking, on man's logic, on man's reasoning, rather than on God's. Even when man's reasoning has proved false, even when it contradicts God's own word. You see, God has revealed all truth to us in His Holy word, through His son Jesus Christ. But we have become far too intelligent to believe merely on the Bible. In fact, the Bible is mocked and ridiculed today, and anyone who claims to believe it is the inspired word of the Living God is thought of as some kind of kook, a right-wing religious fanatic. But we know that Scripture is truly the Word of God, and every page was inspired by Him:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (II Tim. 3:16-17)

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

2. Through vain deceit, or the fallacy of man's own ideas. The doctrines advanced by seemingly plausible arguments or by considerations of our own egotistical ideas are vain and deceitful. They lead not to truth, but to destruction. One of the most basic teachings of the Bible, is that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Jesus plainly said:

"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, and no man
comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

But we have apparently become much too sophicated to believe such a simple, and singular, thing. We believe that, just as the saying goes "all roads lead to Rome" that all roads must lead to heaven, as well. Even the "queen" of daytime talk shows has publicly stated that there has to be more than one way to heaven. No, I'm sorry, Oprah, that is NOT what God's Word says. What you are saying is vain deceit, thinking you can contradict the Word of God.

3. Through the tradition of men. This was the third source of danger to which the Christian church at Colosse. This was a direct reference to the prevailing Jewish traditions of the time, which would tend to corrupt or contradict the gospel of Christ. The verse goes on to say: "And not after Christ"; or, in other words, not such as Christ taught.

This was a direct rebuttal to the idea that Christ and something else was needed for true sanctification. For instance, some Jews were teaching that new converts had to be circumcised according to Jewish law. Paul was teaching that no other requirement of man is needed for salvation, just belief in Christ alone. This issue was settled once and for all by the council that met in Jerusalem in Acts 15. This meeting was to refute this heresy, or false teaching, that circumcision was needed, in oreder to receive salvation. James, the brother of Jesus, was the overseer of the church in Jerusalem, and it was considered the authority, as all of the men who had actually walked with, talked with, and served with Jesus were based in Jerusalem. More than anyone, they knew what Christ himself, had taught. Their word on the subject was final.

In our day and time, I can think of literally dozens of examples of men's traditions that ultimately deceive and lead people astray. Some today argue that a woman must not wear slacks, for instance, quoting Paul's admonition that a women not dress as a man. However, when that admonition was written, men didn't wear slacks. Everyone wore robes of some kind. It's obvious, then, that a particular garment is not what Paul was referring to, but rather an issue of appropriateness in both clothing and attitude.

There are sects today who believe in working the old way, with no electricity or power tools of any kind to corrupt and defile. Once again, it is obvious this is not a God-breathed command, but a statue of man's own making, as electricity is never mentioned in all the Bible. Like everything else, it is not intrinsically good or evil in and of itself. It is what man chooses to do with it that makes it good or evil.

Some denominations believe that you cannot have musical instuments in the church. Some believe in hand-clapping and shouting Halleluia!, while others believe hands are strictly for holding hymnals or folding in prayer, and services should be quiet with no undue interrruptions. Some believe the Lord's supper should be every week, some every month, some every quarter. Some think baptism should be immediate, others think baptismal candidates need to attend classes first.

These things are all man's traditions, and the biggest sources of friction between denominations. Everyone wants it done their own way; very few ever actually look at what God's Holy Word has to say on the subject. And these kinds of traditions deceive, enslave, and lead people astray.

How do they lead people astray? By making them believe that salvation consists of Christ' atoning sacrifice, PLUS their tradition. Scripture refutes that concept: it is faith in Christ alone, with nothing else - no other works, no other deeds, no other traditions - that leads to salvation. Any other doctine or teaching is based on men's traditions, and is a doctine of works, a doctrine wholly refuted by Scripture. We could never earn or deserve our salvation. We do not have the power to get it for ourselves, it is a gift from God:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8)

And since salvation is a gift from God that we cannot get on our own, we also cannot keep it on our own. But fortunately for us, we do not have to depend on our own poor meager power to keep our salvation. God's got us covered, by His power, through the precious blood of Jesus:

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)

See that? We are kept by the power of God. Nothing we do will keep us; we are kept by His power, through His grace. It's all about Him. My friend, do not be deceived into thinking anything else, no matter how reasonable or intelligent the argument may be. The Living Word of God is as powerful today as it was the day it was written. It is as relevant to us today as it was to the church as Collosse. Listen again to the words of the apostle Paul, and do not let yourselves be deceived:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

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