New Knowledge or Same Old Lie?
Read Colossians 2:8 (ESV)
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Have you ever met someone who claims to have a new and special spiritual knowledge?
If you have been following along with us as we read through Colossians, you know that one of the primary reasons Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians was to warn them about false teachers and to urge them to stand firm in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In today’s verse, Paul admonishes them to “see to it that no one takes you captive.” That implies that believers were not going out looking for new cults to join. The heretics were coming into the church, finding vulnerable believers, and carrying them off into the captivity of cultish ideology. So what was this false teaching that was threatening the Colossian church?
We don’t know for certain, but we have some good theories. It could have been Gnosticism, which taught that an inferior, unknown god created the world and that all matter and the material world is evil. It also could have been a form of Jewish mysticism and folk belief that involved angel worship. It is also possible that it was a mixture of all those ideas. But even if we don’t know specifically what the heretics were teaching, Paul was clear that it was an empty and deceptive belief system that was based on human teaching and ideas, not on God’s.
Philosophy means “love of wisdom” which the Bible commends! In fact, the entire book of Proverbs is dedicated to teaching godly wisdom. But the key difference between worldly philosophy and biblical philosophy is the source of wisdom. Paul condemned the world’s philosophies because they came from “human tradition.” But Proverbs 2:6 affirms that wisdom is from God: “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 agrees: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
What was going on in the early church in Colossae is still going on today. False teachers are leading people into spiritual slavery by claiming to have a “new and special” knowledge that surpasses and transcends the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Paul pointed out that this false teaching is based on the elementary principles of the world. It is not based on the spiritual knowledge that has been revealed to us in Christ. This false knowledge is purported to be superior and complex and attaining it is an accomplishment. But in reality, it’s all “elementary.” In other words, it is false teaching 101. And the source of this “wisdom” is not from God but from the spirits of the world—demons.
Friends, the false teachings we are encountering today may be packaged differently than the false teaching that Paul addressed in Colossians. But at their core, they are all the same. Progressive Christianity claims to be the new and improved Christianity because they believe they know more about Jesus now in 2021 than the apostles of antiquity who lived and worked alongside Jesus for 3 years. New age philosophy claims that you can have special spiritual knowledge and power. But it is the same old lie from the garden. You can be like God. You can know what He knows. You can have the power He has.
The bottom line? There is nothing new under the sun. If someone comes to you claiming a new revelation, a higher knowledge, a new spiritual insight, the word “new” should tip you off. Test it against the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If it doesn’t match up, it isn’t from God. It is the same old lie.
Lord, please help me to be discerning. Guard my mind against false teachings that want to carry me away and keep me trapped in spiritual darkness. Your Word has the words of eternal life. Your Word is true wisdom. Your Word is sufficient. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
If you found value in this post, please share your comments, questions, and prayers with us!Discipleship Tip: Sharing is discipleship. Invite a friend to join you each day for a morning coffee and conversation about God. Click the sharing button below to get the conversation started.