Let No One Derail or Defraud Your Walk With Jesus: Colossians 2:18-23
“18) Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19) and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” “20) If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21) “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22) (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23)These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” Colossians‬ ‭2:18-23‬
Don’t skip over this text, it is absolutely crucial to understand how Satan tries to confuse and nullify the gospel. Roll up your sleeves, we need to explore this text and talk about some tragic stuff that started happening even in Paul’s day. Unfortunately, because of this format I need to keep this very brief and simple. Let’s get started.
Greco-Roman culture was a bastion of many different religions, philosophies and belief systems. This resulted in a very secular and often exploitive and immoral value system. It was nearly impossible to find a reliable moral compass in Rome. Keep in mind, modern western secular culture is the great grandson of this strange union between Greece and Rome.
Soon many were turning to faith in Jesus Christ from the dark cloud of meaningless and despair that hung over this culture that placed nearly no value on human life. From the Roman coliseums to the brutal force of law imposed by Roman soldiers, dignity was absent and human blood was cheap in Rome. The new believers were looking for a trustworthy spiritual and moral compass.
Into this vacuum came the New Testament Epistles. They were beckons of light in the otherwise dark fog of human civilization. They were full of truth and life for the believers. They pointed people to Jesus Christ and truth.
In the verses under consideration in the above text, Paul warned against any religion, philosophy or belief system added to the gospel that minimized, marginalized or ignored Jesus Christ. (See Galatians 1:6- 10) Why is this important?
In John 8:31-32 Jesus said that abiding in His word would bring truth and set people free. In John 13:34-35 He also gave the New Commandment of Agape love and said that this quality would characterize His followers. These were not empty words. His promised Helper would produce the fruit of the Spirit within all true believers. (John 14-16; Galatians 5:22-24) Genuine Born-again Christians are to shine as lights in an otherwise dark world.
So in these verses Paul was issuing a warning; adding legalism, adopting religious rituals or borrowing from secular philosophies does absolutely nothing to improve on Spirit filled living. It doesn’t make the light brighter, rather these things are like fire extinguishers. They confuse the truth and dampen the fire of the Spirit. They may be a good religious show, but do have no value against fleshly indulgence. They do not change the heart.
Jesus did not come to establish a new religion. He came to reconcile man to God and open the way for intimate fellowship between Creator God and fallen humanity. He came to redeem lost people. He came to usher in something promised in the Old Testament, but not experienced. (See Joel 2:28-29) Jesus provided the only way for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is what separates being Born-again from mere human religion or philosophy. (See John 3:1-21)
Sadly, the cloak of religion was forced on Christianity. Paul was warning against this trend in this text. This resulted in the dark ages. Christianity was hijacked by false teachers, power grabbers and immoral men and women. Though it confused the issue, this does not take away from the real Born-again life promised by Jesus to those who receive Him by faith.
Don’t settle for religion when you can have a relationship with God through saving faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t settle for empty religious ceremony and rituals when you can have new life through the Holy Spirit. Don’t substitute Jesus Christ for empty human philosophy, psychology, rationalism or false spiritism. They are all dead end roads. They derail and defraud a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global