Verse of the Day Devotion: Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
Here Paul is warning the Church of Colossae that since they had received Christ as savior, they need now not just to believe it, but to live it as well. “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6-7. Too many people today rely simply on their declaration of belief to be the sole proof of their salvation. However, a declaration of belief only allows people to see what you want them to see. To live it is to allow people to see who you truly are. And it is important to go beyond surface level living, but to be firmly rooted and built up in Christ, being strengthened in the faith. This idea is of a tree. Our roots should grow deep and strong, spread throughout the entirety of our being. We must constantly study, thereby learning more and more about our new life in Christ.
However, in the next verse, which is our focus, we are to be careful what we study. “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8. The words ‘see to it’ has the idea of ‘watch out’. Paul wants those in Colossae to watch out lest they are taken captive by this belief. The verbiage translated in this way by is a rare one, used only here in biblical Greek and sparsely elsewhere. It vividly expresses the danger that the readers may be “carried off as plunder” by an alien and fundamentally anti-Christian form of teaching. These teachings are categorized as those philosophies and teachings that are empty of truth and are according to man’s traditions and not of Christ. The theological threat concern two major tenets of the Christian faith. These being ‘soteriology’, which applies to the person and work of Christ specifically related to His work on the cross, and ‘sanctification’ which is the application of the cross to the development of personal purity. Paul addresses both here in this chapter; the theology of salvation in verses 8-15 and sanctification in verses 16-19.
The enemy wants to lead Christians away from the truth of Christianity. His desire is to pluck as many followers as he can away from Christ. Therefore, he has many teachers in this world who try to convince Christians they do not have it quite right. A big deception today is Jesus+. This idea is that it takes more than Christ’s work to save us. We need to do some works as well to solidify our salvation. I unknowingly got involved in a cult that required their followers to read the Bible, but without understanding. They would provide all the understanding needed. They also wanted everyone to dress somewhat the same, very plain clothing and no jewelry. Most Christian cults follow the same path. Believe in Christ, but do not think what He did was all that was necessary.
That is why Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. We must take the time to study the scriptures so that we accurately know what it says. If you have any question as to what something means, do some research to see what the writer is saying. And do not hesitate to ask someone you trust to help you understand the meaning. God wants you to know exactly what He is saying in His Word. Pray if you run into questions you cannot answer, and then let Him lead you to the answer. The scriptures present the entire truth we need.
Sometimes some scriptures appear to say the opposite of each other. I have a saying I use that goes like this. “If two scriptures appear to contradict each other, it is because we either do not understand one of them or both of them.” This could be because of previous teachings that were confusing or it is something we have not studied before. If we run into this pray, and have God show us what it means. And again, do not hesitate to ask someone else for assistance if needed.
God desires us to understand the Word He has given us. Take the time to read it and study it. This is the best answer on how to avoid the deceptions that are prevalent in today’s culture. And lastly, never avoid asking someone you trust, questions that you cannot get answers to. Pray while studying, and if necessary, ask Him to guide you to someone who can help you. And do not just have them answer it, but thoroughly explain it as well. Doing these things will help each of us grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word and strengthen our relationship with Him. And is this not our goal?
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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