Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Colossians chapter 2 as we look at vain philosophies and how we as Christians can overcome them. As you are turning there listen to what Chuck Swindoll tells us regarding the philosophies of the world. He says:
World philosophies have been summarized in this manner: Greece said, Be wise, know yourself. Rome said, Be strong, discipline yourself. Religion says, Be holy, conform yourself. Epicureanism says, Be sensuous, enjoy yourself. Education says, Be resourceful, expand yourself. Materialism says, Be satisfied, please yourself. Psychology says, Be confident, fulfill yourself. Pride says, Be superior, promote yourself. Asceticism says, Be inferior, suppress yourself. Humanism says, Be capable, believe in yourself. Philanthropy says, Be generous, give yourself. Legalism says, Be pious, limit yourself.
Isnt it interesting how all the philosophies end with the same word, and how each one seems to differ from the philosophy of Jesus Christ: Be a servant, think of others.
- Chuck Swindoll
My prayer this morning as we read over these verses is that we would learn how to avoid the vain philosophies of the world and realize that we are complete in Christ, He has all that we will ever need for us to live healthy lives. The problem comes when we start listening to these broken cisterns that cant hold water, these constantly changing philosophies of the world and we become confused. Let us learn the lesson and leave here complete in Christ. With that said, lets begin reading in Colossians chapter 2, starting in verse 6, and see what the Lord has for us this morning.
Pauls warning to the church in Colosse is for them not to allow the philosophy of the world to be their guiding light because the worlds philosophy is empty, it has no weight to it, it is in a constant state of flux and people will use it to trick you, to rip you off, to lead you astray, away from Christ and not to Him. And this package they present is wrapped in religious jargon, spiritual ideas, backed with degrees but they are nothing more than the traditions of men, the elementary principles of the world. It is nothing more than a bunch of hot air being blown around and their doctrines, their ideas stink!
In regards to this, Commentator Herbert Carson sounds this alarm for us to heed. He says:
With Paul it would no doubt be true to say that philosophy, in the simple sense of a love of knowledge and a desire for the truth, would be quite compatible with his position. But to philosophy in the developed sense with its emphasis on the primacy of human reason he would obviously be utterly opposed . . . Hence, while the Christian may see a certain negative value in speculative philosophy, he will constantly be on his guard lest he come to study revelation, not as a believer, but as a humanist. This does not mean that he should come with a blind unreasoning faith. But it does mean that, instead of bringing philosophical presuppositions which will colour his study of Scripture and so prejudice his interpretation, he comes as one conscious of the finiteness of his intellect, and aware that his mind also is affected by his sinful nature. Thus he is willing to be taught by the Holy Spirit, and acknowledges that it is the Word of God rather than his own reason which is the final arbiter of truth.
- Herbert Carson, The Epistles of Paul to the Colossians and Philemon, p. 62
The Greek word that Paul uses for philosophy is PHILOSOPHIA (fil-os-of-ee-ah) and it comes from two Greek words: PHILEO, which means to love and SOPHIA, which means wisdom. Thus, the word means the love of wisdom and folks, you will never find the wisdom you need to live apart from Christ and thus, the worlds wisdom is empty, it is vain.
Now to give you just a few examples of little known philosophies, listen to the following:
Now for the most part, these are just funny, not much to them, although some of them do make sense in a weird kind of way. The problem comes when we let the philosophies of the world influence our lives and like what was happening in the church of Colosse, it is happening in churches all across America today. They are letting the worlds philosophies guide them and it is affecting our witness. Let me give to you just a few examples to show you what I mean.
Now we can go on but I think you get the idea. We have let the worlds philosophies, with some Scripture to justify our sin, and we are living in rebellion against Gods will for our lives. We are being ripped off by the Devil, listening to his voice instead of the voice of God. And so as you compare the behavior of those in the church, their morals, their ethics, with those that are not saved, there is no real, distinguishable difference according to the researcher, George Barna. That should not be the case!
Folks, we are to be salt and light to this world but our salt has lost its flavor and our light has been hidden with the garbage of this world. What can we do to escape these trappings of the worlds philosophies? Paul gives to us four things that we as Christians should do to escape the pulling of the world upon our lives. He first tells us that we are to walk in Christ Colossians 2:6. Then Paul tells us we are to grow in Christ Colossians 2:7. We are to make Christ the plum line Colossians 2:8. And finally, we are complete in Him Colossians 2:9-10. And so with the remainder of our time this morning we are going to be focusing on these four areas and see what we can glean from them that will help us stay clear of the dangers that the worlds philosophies bring to us.
1. WALK IN CHRIST COLOSSIANS 2:6
Here is a powerful point that Paul makes. He is saying that as the Christian life began as a work of the Spirit of God, by faith, through the revelation of Gods Word, that is how it should continue. Why are you looking for new things when you already possess all that you need in Christ? Peter put it his way in II Peter 1:2-8, Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dont try to complete the work in the flesh, but allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the things of God as you read His Word and then walk accordingly, as He leads. The problem comes when my will and Gods will dont meet and I will do whatever it takes to justify my way. That is dangerous and it is wrong. Walk in Christ and be directed by Him. Pauls point is that in our daily living we should be directed by Him, as we follow our shepherd, we are going where He is leading us to go.
Let me give you a couple of examples. Paul tells us in Galatians chapter 5, I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh . . . If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:16, 25. Walk in the Spirit, not the flesh! In III John 3-4 John tells us, For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Walk in the truth and according to John 17:17 Jesus tells us that the Word of God is truth. In II Corinthians 5:7 Paul tells us, For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are to walk by faith in the Lord, trusting in Him. And so, to avoid the pitfalls of the worlds philosophies, we are to walk in the Spirit of God, according to the Word of God, by faith in God WALK IN HIM!
2. GROW IN CHRIST COLOSSIANS 2:7
What makes a healthy plant? It needs a good root system for it is from that root system that the plant will take in water and nutrients and when sunlight is applied, the plant grows healthy and strong, it will bear fruit! The same is true for us as Christians. To be healthy we need to sink our roots deep down into Jesus. What does that mean? I believe it means that we are to bury our lives in Him, to rest fully in Him.
And with a good root system we also need to take in the proper nutrients so that we may grow and Peter tells us in I Peter 2:2-3, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. The Amplified Bible puts these verses like this, Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation, Since you have [already] tasted the goodness and kindness of the Lord. [Ps 34:8.]
You see, Gods Word is our spiritual food and as we read and apply the truths of God from His Word to our lives, as we sit in the Son of God, we grow because our roots are firmly planted in Him!
As the Word of God is received into our lives, it does many things that help us to grow in the faith, to mature. To just give you a few, David said in Psalm 119:9-10, How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. The Word of God restrains us from sin. In Psalm 119:133 we are told, Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me. The Word of God Guides us.
Throughout the Scriptures, from Genesis through Revelation, the Word of God is revealing God to us and it is also revealing to us what is in our own heart that needs to be changed, what we need to do. It is as Paul said in Hebrews 4:12-13, For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Deception, lies, false teaching can only be effective if we dont know the truth, if we dont know the Word of God, for the truth will set us free, but the lies will keep us in bondage. Keep your roots deep into Jesus as you read His Word and you will grow in the Lord, you will not be swayed by the empty philosophies of the world, the lies that are given through men but are nothing more than doctrines of demons, and they are there to rip us off, not set us free! GROW IN HIM!
3. MAKE CHRIST THE PLUM LINE COLOSSIANS 2:8
A few weeks ago I just finished a class called ACLS or Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Every two years, as a Critical Care Nurse, I am required to take this class and pass the test to show that I am qualified to care for people that have life-threatening problems. You have to have critical thinking but that thinking is based upon guidelines. We all dont do whatever we want because there are a variety of problems that can happen to the human body, we need to be prepared for them all, know how we are going to treat them. If you dont have these guidelines, then things are going to be a mess!
The same is true with our relationship with the Lord. You see, the worlds philosophies see Christ as a great teacher, or a great prophet, or even a god or angel but they negate the fact that He is Almighty God, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Thus, the plum line is Christ and that He is God and if He is not given that place of deity, then their teaching is false, it is demonic, and you need to walk away from it because it is dangerous.
Let me give you an example of how important it is for us to be in tune with Gods voice, to have the truth that is based upon Gods Word. Tim Quinn tells us:
I was stumped. My old Macintosh laptop simply would not run the MacBible software anymore. Though I had worked with it for hours, nothing I did would help. My wife, wise woman that she is, had suggested that I call the owners of the software for help, but no, I knew what I was doing.
That morning, after having exhausted every last idea, I gave in and called the MacBible Corporation. After speaking to a friendly voice, I was assured that the person to whom I was being referred would know exactly what to do. I wasnt convinced, but I called him anyway.
The name I had been given sounded familiar, and I soon learned why. The person on the other end of the line was none other than the man who wrote the MacBible software. He gave me a brief set of instructions; I took them down and hung up the phone. In minutes, my computer software program was up and running. I just had to go to the man who wrote the program.
How many times in life do we try to work out our problems our own way? Finally when all else has failed, we go to the one who designed us. Soon, if we obey, we find ourselves once again at peace with God and functioning as he planned.
- Tim Quinn; Holland Michigan
Why do we think the world has the answers when they deny who Jesus is? And yet, we go to the world to help us and they lead us down the wrong path. I think often the problem comes as we know the truth but we refuse to listen to the truth. We refuse to listen to what God is saying to us because it doesnt add up with what we want to do. But He is the plum line, He is the truth, and thus, if it contradicts what He has said, it is wrong. If it doesnt place Him as creator God, Almighty God, it is wrong! But we can be very strong willed as this story shows us:
An old sailor repeatedly got lost at sea, so his friends gave him a compass and urged him to use it. The next time he went out in his boat, he followed their advice and took the compass with him. But as usual he became hopelessly confused and was unable to find land. Finally he was rescued by his friends.
Disgusted and impatient with him, they asked, Why didnt you use that compass we gave you? You could have saved us a lot of trouble! The sailor responded, I didnt dare to! I wanted to go north, but as hard as I tried to make the needle aim in that direction, it just kept pointing southeast.
That old sailor was so certain he knew which way was north that he stubbornly tried to force his own personal persuasion on his compass. Unable to do so, he tossed it aside as worthless and failed to benefit from the guidance it offered.
- Source Unknown
May we learn the lesson and hold everything up to the light of Gods Word with Christ being the plum line. If His preeminence is negated at all, they are off and you dont even want to go down that path just a little because it will ultimately lead you so far from the reality of who Christ is. Imagine getting on a plane in California and heading for Hawaii and the pilot says that they should make good time the only problem is their instruments are off just a little, only one degree. What would you do? If you were smart you would get off the plane because if their navigation is off only one degree, by the time you were to reach Hawaii you would be hundreds of miles off! Dont mess around with your spiritual life that way because it is dangerous. THE PLUM LINE IS CHRIST!
4. COMPLETE IN HIM COLOSSIANS 2:9-10
Why do people turn from Christ? Many times it is because they think that they are missing something, that the world has something better to offer them. They are trying to satisfy their fleshly appetites and like an ugly monster, the more you feed it the more it wants and the more it wants the more you feed it and it never ends, there will never be satisfaction, completeness in your life if you live that way.
On the other end of the spectrum Paul tells us that we are full or complete in Him. There is true satisfaction found in Christ, you cant substitute anything for Him. It would be like putting a square peg in a round hole it just doesnt work! What a powerful lesson for us to learn and apply to our lives. And please note that Paul doesnt say, You will be complete in Him or You are partially complete in Him but You are complete in Him. Right here, right now you are complete if you would only receive it by faith and you can rest in that, you will find satisfaction for your soul!
Here is the thing, like I said on Thursday, when Adam and Eve were created by God they were complete and everything was very good! There was only one law; dont eat of the tree of good and evil. They didnt keep the one law and sinned and ever since that day, man has been born into this world incomplete! Spiritually speaking we are incomplete because our sin has separated us from God; our fellowship with God is broken. In Isaiah 59:1-2 we are told, Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
Morally speaking we are incomplete because we do as we please, we do what is right in our own heart, which is wicked and not according to Christ. In Proverbs 16:2 we are told, All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits. In Proverbs 21:2, Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts. And in Proverbs 30:12 we are told, There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet is not washed from its filthiness.
And we are mentally incomplete because we dont know the truths of God, the ultimate truth of who He is! Paul tells us in I Corinthians 2:14, But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Thus, we are incomplete outside of Christ!
But, as we come to Christ and receive Him into our lives as Lord and Savior we are complete in Him. Spiritually speaking all our sins are forgiven, we are as white as snow. Jesus tells us in John 3:16-18, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Our fellowship with God has been restored in Christ!
We are morally complete because we know the standards of God, what He desires us to do and we are to walk accordingly. Paul in I Thessalonians 4:1-7, Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. We know how God desires us to live morally speaking!
And we are mentally complete as we know the truths of God, we know that Jesus is God and now the Spirit of God gives to us the mind of Christ. Paul, in I Corinthians 2:10-13, But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. We are mentally complete in Him for we know the mind of Christ by His Spirit! WE ARE COMPLETE IN CHRIST!
Yes, the false prophets, the deceivers will always be out there waving people to come down their path but dont follow them. Walk in Christ. Grow in Christ. Make Christ the plum line. And you are complete in Him! Let me close this morning with theses admonishing words from Jude to stand strong in the faith that has been entrusted to us. He tells us, Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to how The Amplified Bible puts these verses, Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God]. For certain men have crept in stealthily [gaining entrance secretly by a side door]. Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality, and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Jude 3-4. May we heed the warning and walk in Christ, grow in Him, make Him the plum line and know that we ARE complete in Him!