Are You Getting Cheated As a Christian?

Col 2:4-10

4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. NKJV

 

For a moment imagine that you hit the big 250 million dollar lottery. Although you only get 150 mil after taxes. The payments start flowing in and you are setting on easy street. But then one day some people show up who tell you that you can’t have all that money. They tell you that you have to give some of it to them and to pay other bills in order to deep the money coming. You do not call the official lottery folks but just do what they say. Soon they lay new rules on you and before long you are living worse that you were in the beginning. You did not get held up and no one stole your money. You just gave it to these people because they sais you were supposed to.

Now I know that some are saying, it would never happen to me like that. But I submit that for many Christians something worse has happened. They have been saved eternally by the grace of God through their faith in Jesus Christ. They have accepted the teaching of the Gospel as their way of life. But then some people show up with another story. They start questioning the grace of God and the need for Jesus to die for sin. They even question if Jesus was really the Son of God and virgin born. These new folks say that the idea of an atonement, the need of God’s Son to die for your sin is ancient and you need to get in gear with the 21st century. Then they begin to teach that all those moral taboos that you learned when you became a Christian are for a forgotten generation. They say that sex before marriage or during marriage with someone who is not your mate is perfectly alright and that God is not concerned about those kind of things as long as we all love one another. They even go so far as to praise the new morality that doesn’t question two men living as sexual partners, for it is love that holds them together.

Now I know you might say, not me preacher. But millions of Christians have bought into all of those lies. They have been robbed just as described in the story before. Because once you accept all those things, there is not a wit different between you and the atheist living across town. You are almost worse off than you were before.

That is what Paul is writing about in this part of the letter. The Colossian believers had been saved out of a paganism that would make America look morally upright. They had been established in the Word of God by Epaphras, a disciple of Paul. They knew the blessings of God upon them and who Jesus was and what He had done for them to bring them back to God. But now they were being robbed of all that, by these false teachers.

You heard about the young preacher just out of the liberal seminary who came to a large church and began to pastor. Year after year he questioned the plain teachings of the Bible. He told them that they could not trust in those verses, that they were not in the best manuscripts. Then he told them about how that Jesus was a great teacher but hardly God in flesh and that there was a reasonable explanation for all of His miracles. He was so intelligent that no one questioned these new teachings. He spoke so persuasively. After all he was the pastor, wasn’t he. Then one day after years at that church an old member of the church lay dying and had asked for the pastor to come. The pastor came and asked if the man would like him to read from the Bible. When the old man’s Bible was brought the pastor was surprised to see such a Bible. It had many pages missing and in some places verse after verse cut out. The pastor thought, how can I read from such a Bible. So he asked the man if he did not have a better Bible. The man’s reply stopped the pastor cold. He said, “When you came, my Bible was new and complete but when something wasn’t true or should not be in there, I cut it out. Now, that is all I have left.”

The man had been robbed just as if he had been held up with a gun. And all that he had trusted in had been systematically taken away. And that is what is happening in the mainline denominations of America.

The people are being robbed. Robbed by the clergy.

J. Vernon McGee said, “Philosophy and psychology have been substituted for the Bible, and this is the thing that is enticing to so many young preachers in our seminaries today. I am amazed to find that some of these men with a Ph.D. degree from a seminary know so little about the Bible! They know all about Bultmann and Kant and Plato, but they don’t seem to know very much about the Word of God. That is the great problem of our day.” Footnote

I think it is a curse from God upon our nation. Listen to the Word of God. "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord GOD, "That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it. Amos 8:11-12 NKJV

Let us consider these important words from Colossians.

I.         Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.

            A.        We had better not forget that there are those who are out to deceive us concerning our faith.

                        1.         As in our responsive reading, Peter says as there were then so there will also be among us.

                        2.         In the New Testament days there were many who opposed the true teaching of the word of God.

            B.        Satan is the great deceiver and the fountain of all deceit.

                        1.         Not everyone who is used by Satan knows it.

                        2.         But he does have ministers who look just like the ministers of righteousness.

                        3.         2 Col. 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

 

II.        For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

            A.        Paul was in prison and could not come to them personally.

            B.        But in heart and desire for them he was there.

            C.        He rejoiced to see their order and steadfastness in the faith of Christ.

                        1.         These are both military terms.

                        2.         They have the idea of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder in the face of the enemies attack.

                        3.         “The word used signifies a military order, such as is observed in armies, in battle array; suggesting, that these Christians were good soldiers of Christ, were enlisted under his banners, and kept in due order, in rank and file; stood fast in one spirit, contended and strove together for the faith of the Gospel, fought the good fight of faith, nor could any hardship move them from their station;” John Gill

                        4.         The military line (from tassw), unbroken, intact. A few stragglers had gone over to the Gnostics, but there had been no panic, no breach in the line. RWP

                            5.           {Steadfastness} (sterewma). From stereow (from stereov) to make steady, and probably the same military metaphor as in taxin just before. The solid part of the line which can and does stand the attack of the Gnostics. RWP

                        6.         steadfastness Greek, " the firm (or ‘solid’) foundation." As "order" expresses the outward aspect of the Church; so "steadfastness" expresses the inner basis on which their Church rested. The Greek literally implies not an abstract quality, but the thing in the concrete; thus their "faith" here is the solid thing which constituted the basis of their Church. JFB

III.       As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

            A.        They had already received Jesus Christ.

                        1.         “As therefore ye received (once for all; the aorist tense; from Epaphras) Jesus the Christ as your Lord Footnote

                        2.         First this refers to the personal relationship with Jesus.

                                    a.         Salvation is first of all a relationship.

                                    b.         If you have an idea that salvation comes by works or intelligence you are mistaken.

                                    c.         Knowing Jesus and the Father who sent Him is eternal life.

                        3.         Secondly it refers to His word and the testimony concerning Him.

                                    a.         Everything we know about God and Jesus we have ultimately received from the word of God.

                                    b.         The book of Hebrews tells us that in Christ Jesus we have the Father revealed.

                                    c.         But outside of the word of God we know nothing about the Father or the Son.

            B.        So walk in him

                        1.         “In broader terms, however, walking in Christ means living in union with Him. It means to maintain a lifestyle patterned after His. “The one who says he abides in Him,” the apostle John writes, “ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).” MacArthur Commentary

            C.        Rooted and built up in Him

                        1.         Two words, one means to be anchored and nourished like a tree.

                        2.         The other means to be continually built like a building.

                        3.         The idea is that Jesus is the place where we must be anchored and the place were we must continue to be built.

                        4.         (being built up) is a present-tense participle indicating continuous action. By studying the “word of His grace, which is able to build you up” (Acts 20:32), believers will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). And they will come “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). MacArthur Commentary

            D.        And established in the faith.

                        1.         Once they were, but some have set out to disturb that faith.

                        2.         Here the faith has the idea of the doctrine, teaching, that they had been given in the beginning of their Christian life.

                        3.         Being firmly rooted in Christ and growing in Him results in believers being established in their faith. MacArthur Commentary

            E.        As you have been taught

                        1.         The idea here is simple.

                        2.         God’s word had not changed.

                        3.         No one had been authorized to develop a new message.

                        4.         What they had been taught was still to be obeyed now.

                        5.         Let us be careful of those who want to change what Christians have believed for hundreds and even thousands of years.

            F.        Abounding in it with thanksgiving

                        1.         They were not to simply continue but to abound, to become more and more dedicated in pursuing this faith.

                        2.         And to do it with thanksgiving.

                        3.         Anyone can start a race, but it takes perseverance to finish it.

IV.      Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

            A.        The spiritual blessings they had in Jesus could be cheated away from them if they willingly gave them up because of the convincing words of human philosophy,

                        1.         Think, you could be being cheated if you buy into the worlds philosophy.

                        2.         You could be depriving yourself of spiritual treasure by adopting the goals and aspirations of the world.

                        3.         The world exalts leisure above all.

                        4.         The world puts the emphasis on pride and worldly achievements.

                        5.         Many Christians are cheating themselves by swallowing the worlds lies.

                        6.         Philosophy means literally “the love of wisdom.” It is not evil in itself, but becomes evil when men seek wisdom apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. Here the word is used to describe man’s attempt to find out by his own intellect and research those things which can only be known by divine revelation (1 Cor. 2:14). It is evil because it exalts human reason above God and worships the creature more than the Creator. It is characteristic of the liberals of our day, with their boasted intellectualism and rationalism. Footnote

                        7.         Let no one deceive you (4). Religious systems seem so inviting, and their leaders are so persuasive. But if you follow them, you will substitute man’s ideas for God’s truth. Let no one cheat you (8). Here the thief is man-made philosophy and tradition, pleasing to the world but rejected by the Lord. If you have all fullness in Christ, why substitute man’s empty philosophies? Footnote

            B.        But all that is only empty deceit.

            C.        The teachings of men, according the human (worldly principles) wisdom.

            D.        All of that is the best man has to offer but it is not according to Christ.

V.        For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

            A.        Every word in this is empathic.

                        1.         Paul could not have said it stronger.

                        2.         The simple idea is that Jesus is God in flesh and you can not get any higher than Him.

            B.        But it also says that we are complete in Him.

                        1.         Our fullness, our success is bound up in Him.

            C.        Albert Barnes says:

                        1.         [And ye are complete in him] Having no need, for the purposes of salvation, of any aid to be derived from the philosophy of the Greeks, or the traditions of the Jews. All that is necessary to secure your salvation is to be found in the Lord Jesus. There is a completion, or a filling up, in him, so as to leave nothing wanting. This is true in respect:

                                    a.         (1) to the wisdom which is needful to guide us;

                                    b.         (2) the atonement to be made for sin;

                                    c.         (3) the merit by which a sinner can be justified; and

                                    d.         (4) the grace which is needful to sustain us in the trials, and to aid us in the duties, of life; compare the notes at 1 Cor 1:30.

                                    e.         There is no necessity, therefore, that we should look to the aid of philosophy, as if there was a defect in the teachings of the Saviour; or to human strength, as if he were unable to save us; or to the merits of the saints, as if those of the Redeemer were not sufficient to meet all our wants. (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

            D.        Christ is our fulness of which we all partake (John 1:16; Eph 1:23) and our goal is to be made full of God in Christ (Eph 3:19). "In Christ they find the satisfaction of every spiritual want" (Peake). (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament,

            E.        If you are looking for fullness, you will find it in Jesus Christ and none other.

Do you have that fullness Paul is talking about?

Has the world beguiled you and cheated you out of the blessings you were graced with in Jesus Christ?

Then come home. Jesus is ready to restore, to heal the broken and to bind up the wounded.

Tell Him right now you are tired of the empty husks of the world and you want Him to fill you.