COLOSSIANS: DIVISION IV
THE CONTRAST BETWEEN CHRIST AND FALSE TEACHING, 2:8-23
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A. Christ versus False Philosophy and Astrology, 2:8-10
(2:8-10) Introduction: the importance of this passage is clearly seen in the title of the subject, "Christ versus False Philosophy and Astrology."
1. Beware of false philosophy (v.8).
2. Christ is the Source of reality and truth (v.9-10).
1. (2:8) Philosophy— Astrology: beware of worldly philosophy. The word "beware" (blepete PWS: 375) means to take heed, look out, guard yourself. Why? "Lest any man spoil you through philosophy." The word "spoil" (estai sulagōgōn PWS: 3715) means to lead into captivity or slavery.
⇒ Some men are in a genuine search for truth and reality. They seek to learn the truth and reality of the universe and the problems that face them, but they limit themselves to the universe. This approach has one terrible flaw that leads either to incomplete or erroneous conclusions. This flaw will be discussed in a few moments.
⇒ Other persons have novel ideas or philosophies about truth and reality, but they become more interested in their position than the truth. They need others to accept their positions or else their ideas die. Therefore, they have to present and persuade people of their ideas and philosophies whether they are sound or not.
Believers must, therefore, beware and guard against worldly philosophies and ideas lest they become ensnared and enslaved.
What is meant by worldly philosophy? Paul tells us exactly what he means.
1. Worldly philosophy is philosophy that follows the very same traditions that men have followed down through the ages.
2. Worldly philosophy is philosophy that searches for reality by using the rudiments or elementary knowledge of this world. The word "rudiments" (stoicheia) means...
• the elementary principles, the ABC teachings of the universe.
• the rudimentary teachings (Hebrews 5:12).
• the crude notions of the universe.
• the elements or materials of the universe (2 Peter 3:10-12).
Worldly philosophy uses only human knowledge and worldly tradition to search for the reality and truth of the world and life. The only source worldly philosophy uses is the world and its elements or materials.
3. Worldly philosophy is philosophy that deals only with the elements and materials of this world (universe). Men have always tried to find the answers to life and the world within the world itself. Men want to know...
• What is the origin of the universe and life?
• Who is man and where did he come from? Why is man here and where is he going?
• Where did evil come from? Can it be controlled? Or better yet, abolished?
• Is there a God? How can we know?
• Is life upon this planet all there is? Is there life after death?
The questions could go on and on. The point to see is this: worldly philosophy tries to find the answers to these questions only in the world (universe). Worldly philosophy looks only at the elements or materials of this world and seeks the answers to life. The consequence is tragic, for everything in the world—every element of it—passes away. Therefore, if a philosophy bases itself upon the elements of the world, there is no permanent answer or solution to life. Why? Because man and his world will die and cease to exist, for the universe itself is physical and wasting away—granted, much slower than man—nevertheless it is still wasting away. (Actually, it will be destroyed; however, not by man, but by God. But this is a discussion for another time. Cp. 2 Peter 3:3-18, esp. 2 Peter 3:10-13.) The point is this: a philosophy based upon the world is useless in finding permanent answers and solutions to life. The very best that a worldly philosophy or science can ever do is...
• make life more comfortable.
• make life safer and last longer.
But this is not permanent or eternal comfort and safety. It is not permanent truth or reality. Man and his world need something much more than a worldly philosophy, a philosophy that offers only temporary and short term answers to life.
"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22).
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain" (1 Cor. 3:19-20).
"This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:15).
"Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid" (Isaiah 29:14).
"For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me. Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know" (Isaiah 47:10-11).
"For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge" (Jeremiah 4:22).
"With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures. By thy great wisdom and by thy traffic hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches" (Ezekiel 28:4-5).
"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" (Psalm 2:1).
Since man needs something more than worldly philosophy, what is it that He needs? What is it that can meet the needs of man better than the sharpest thinking and sciences of men? Keep in mind that man needs life—true life, real life, a life that is abundant and eternal—that does not become diseased and suffer accident and death. Man needs a real world that does not suffer under the weight of corruption, decay, and deterioration and does not explode in natural disasters.
⇒ Man needs a true world, not a world that seems to be false, as though it is a mistake.
⇒ Man needs a real world, not a world that only fades away as an illusion.
⇒ Man needs a genuine world, not a world that is only an appearance as though it is counterfeit.
⇒ Man needs a purposeful world, not a world that is only chance without any lasting permanent meaning.
How can man secure such a world? How can man find permanent and eternal life? The answer is simple: he can't. If such a world does not exist, man can never find it, for it is not there to be found.
But, what if a permanent world does exist in a spiritual dimension of being? How then can man find it? He can't. If a spiritual world exists, man cannot find it, for he is physical, that is, material substance. And the physical or material cannot penetrate or move over into the spiritual, regardless of what some persons may claim or think.
⇒ The corruptible cannot move over into the world of the incorruptible, for it is already corruptible.
⇒ The dishonorable cannot move over into the world of glory, for it is already dishonorable (short of glory or perfection).
⇒ The weak cannot move over into the world of infinite and perfect power, for it is already weak (short of infinite power).
⇒ The natural cannot move over into the world of the spiritual, for it is already natural.
⇒ The mortal cannot move over into the world of the immortal because it is already mortal.
⇒ The dying (the process of death) cannot move over into the world of life because it is already dying (in the process of dying—even a body is in the process of dying).
Man is just totally incapable of penetrating or moving over into the spiritual world or spiritual dimension. He cannot know the spiritual world because he and his world are physical and material (corruptible and dishonorable, weak and natural, mortal and dying).
This means a critical point: there is only one way man can ever know the spiritual world and dimension. The spiritual world must reveal itself to the physical world. God must reveal Himself to man. This is exactly what God has done in Christ, and this is the startling and glorious message of the next point.
Thought 1. The "rudiments" (elements or materials) of the universe also refer to the signs and spirits of the stars and planets. The idea that these determine the fate of man has, of course, been with man from the earliest of time. Astrology and the signs of the zodiac are to be guarded against as much as any other worldly philosophy. The stars and planets are as much a part of the material universe as men are. They are of the physical world and dimension of being the same as man is. In fact, they are inanimate objects, possessing even less ability and power than man. They are even less capable of penetrating and moving over into the spiritual world or dimension than man is.
2. (2:9-10) Jesus Christ, Deity: Jesus Christ is the Source of reality and truth, the very presence of God Himself. Note: reality and truth—the answers to the world and life—are not found in a philosophy nor in human ideas. They are found in a Person, the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Think for a moment: if a Person (God) really created the world, then the answer to life and creation (truth and reality) are bound to be wrapped up in Him, not in the world He made. He is the Source to understanding the world; the world is not the source to understanding Him. True, we can look at the world and learn some things about God, but not all that we need to know. For example, the world cannot tell us how to conquer evil and death, not perfectly. Therefore, if we seek the truth only in the world, we are left short and incomplete and unfulfilled and in error. Thus, we must seek truth and the answer to all things in the Person who made all things. He alone knows the whole story.
The glorious message of the gospel and of this passage is that God does exist. He truly exists and He has revealed Himself in Christ. Christ is the revelation of God, of truth and reality, of life itself in all its origin, purpose, meaning, and destiny. Note three wonderful truths.
1. Christ is the fulness of God. Christ is God Himself who came to earth. Note the verse: "In Christ dwells all the fulness of the Godhead." All that God is dwells in Christ.
⇒ Christ is God in an absolute, full, and perfect sense.
Jesus Christ has the full nature and being of God just as God the Father has the full nature of God. (See note, Jesus Christ, Deity—•Phil. 2:5-11; note—•Phil. 2:5; and note—• John 1:1-2.) God the Father and God the Son have the same being and nature, that of God. The word "fulness" (pleroma) means that not a single part of God's nature is lacking in the nature of Christ.
The word "dwells" (katoikei PWS: 1186) means to be at home, to be permanently settled and present. This tells us...
• that the fulness of God has always dwelt in Christ, even before He came to earth (John 1:1, 18; John 17:5, 24; Phil. 2:6).
• that the fulness of God dwelt in Christ when Christ was walking upon earth in a human body (John 1:14, 18; 1 John 1:1-3).
• that the fulness of God was not just a temporary gift to Christ.
What does all this mean to us in practical day to day living? It means two wonderful things.
a. First, God is not far off in outer space someplace. God is not unconcerned with the world. God has not just created the world and wound it up and left it on its own to fly throughout space with man making out the best he can. God is interested and concerned with the world—so much so that He has come to earth to show how vitally concerned He is.
b. God is love, not evil. Only a God of evil would leave man in the dark where he would have to grope and grasp and stumble about in order to find God. A God of love would reveal Himself and show man...
• the way to God.
• the truth of God, man, and his world.
• the life that man is to live (John 14:6).
"He that seeth me seeth Him that sent me" (John 12:45).
"If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him" (John 14:7).
"Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" (John 14:9).
"All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you" (John 16:15).
"In Him dwelleth all the fulness of God" (Col. 2:9).
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).
"Who [Christ] being the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His person" (Hebrews 1:3).
2. Believers are complete in Christ. The word "complete" (peplērōmenoi) means to be made full. The Greek actually says, "In Him you are full." When a person truly believes and partakes of Christ, he receives the fulness of Christ. Just what is the fulness of Christ which believers receive? Scripture describes it in several ways.
a. Believers receive wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30).
⇒ Wisdom means that we understand God, the world, and man: the origin, purpose, and end of creation.
⇒ Righteousness means that we understand the evil in the world, both sin and death and that we know the only way to attain righteousness is through Christ.
⇒ Sanctification means that we have set our lives apart unto God to live for Him and to serve Him.
⇒ Redemption means that we have been saved from corruption and death and given eternal life.
b. Believers receive the fulness of Christ's nature. The divine nature of God is actually placed in believers and they become new creatures in Christ.
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4).
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).
"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephes. 4:24).
"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:10).
c. Believers receive fulness of life now. From the time believers receive Christ, they should lack nothing. If a believer ever lacks anything—any fulness of life—it is because he has taken his eyes off Christ and has slipped away. When dealing with day to day living...
• the believer receives an abundance of life.
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
• the believer receives fulness of joy.
"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11).
• the believer receives all the necessities of life including food, clothing, and shelter (cp. Matthew 6:24-34).
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
• the believer receives the fulness of God's Spirit, of God Himself.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).
"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephes. 3:19).
"Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephes. 5:18).
d. Believers receive the fulness of life eternal.
"That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:15-16).
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).
"For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Galatians 6:8).
e. Believers receive the fulness of the knowledge of God's will.
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Col. 1:9).
Thought 1. Note that the fulness of life and the answers to truth and reality do not come from a philosophy, but from a Person, Jesus Christ.
3. Christ is the Head of all principality and power; that is, no rule, authority, or power stands between God and man. Nothing, absolutely nothing, stands between God (ultimate Truth and Reality) and man...
• no force
• no power
• no energy
• no person
• no science
• no law of the universe
• no zodiac sign
• no sign or spirit of the stars and planets
• no astrological energy
The explanation and fate of man and his world are found in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. He is the only Intemediary between God and man. Man can approach God only through Christ. No one else—person or force—can present us to God and make us acceptable to God. God accepts only those persons who come to Him by Christ.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
"He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all" (John 3:31).
"Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:68).
"I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24).
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 3:11).