A Warning to Heed
Sermon Outline In Christ Alone! Colossians 2:8-12 Introduction 1. Illustration: A tourist in Scotland some years ago Unfamiliar with the nature of the coast, wandered along a path, which is only safe at low tide. Delighted with the seascape, he watched with admiration the huge waves breaking on the shore. He gazed with awe at the precipitous rocks towering above him. So entranced was he with his surroundings, he did not notice that the sea was gradually encroaching on his pathway. A local man, observing from the lofty cliffs saw this stranger, evidently unaware of danger. He descended as far as he was able with safety, and drew his attention by a loud "hulloo," He said: "If you pass this spot, you lose your last chance. The tide is rising, already the beach you have traveled is covered. The waters are nearing the foot of the cliffs before you. By this path alone can you escape." The warning went unheeded, for the tourist thought he was able to make the turn in the road before the sea reached the cliff. He misjudged the distance, and soon saw with alarm the danger of his position. He turned back, but alas! the sea had already cut off his way of escape. He looked at the cliffs, which were inaccessible, the waters were at his feet. He sought higher ground, but to no purpose. At last a projecting rock was seen. He reached it but the relentless waves came on. They reached him inch by inch, until they reached his neck. He uttered one despairing cry for help, but none was near. The waters covered this victim of self-confidence. He neglected the warning and perished. As Christians there are some things in this life that are dangerous for us. When we see a warning in the Bible telling us something is dangerous we need to take that warning seriously. Today we are going to take a look a warning from Paul to the Church at Colossae and how we can take action in our lives based on this warning. Turn with me to Colossians 2:8. Paul had just instructed the Colossians to walk in the Lord just as they had received Him. He told them they had been firmly rooted and built up in Christ and were established in Him. Now He will warn them of a danger they face, one that we face as well. I. All Christians should make sure they are following Christ and the lies of men.v8 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. The Warning “See to it” This phrase is much more serious in the Greek. One writer put it this way; “Be constantly looking out, keep a watchful eye ever open.” He said; “The form of the sentence is a measure of the imminence of the peril.” This is the strongest level of warning. Paul is saying if you are not careful this will surely happen. “takes you captive” This is what would happen to them if they did not heed the warning. This word translated “takes you captive” only appears in the Bible this one time. To It literally means “to carry off as spoils of war, to carry off as a captive and slave.” Someone was at war with these people. Someone wanted to take them captive. Paul is deeply concerned about this and calls for vigilance. They are in danger and Paul is warning them. The Danger “through philosophy” This is the way they might be taken captive. He wrote here not against all philosophy but against a particular philosophy. I used to think this was a list of things they were being warned about. Philosophy, empty deception, traditions of men, elementary principles of the world. But in the Greek it is clear that these things are all a descriptions of the “Philosophy” The particular false philosophy at Colossae was “empty” & “deceptive,” and based on human tradition and elementary principles, rather than on Christ. “empty deception” The word empty here means useless or of no value. The word deception tells us that this philosophy is a lie, and un-truth. “the tradition of men” So much of man’s religion is cultural, not biblical. We pass on what we have received without checking the Bible for ourselves. We do something because that is how we have always done it. Isaiah 29:13 Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, “the elementary principles” This phrase came to mean the ABC’s of a subject, the basic teachings. The false teachers may have been trying to manmade rules added to the Jewish law. “rather than according to Christ” It is based on human reasoning, experience, or speculation. There is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful, which is prejudicial to religion, and sets up the wisdom of man in competition with the wisdom of God, and while it pleases men’s fancies ruins their faith; The Safety The False Teachers presented their philosophy as lining up with Christ, as completing the gospel. They added their philosophy on top of the Gospel. They were like some false teachers today. Unless you adopt their teaching and their practices you are either not a Christian or are at least an inferior one. More than the other evaluations, this one points to the heart of the danger. The philosophy was not “according to Christ.” It was incompatible with Christ and contrary to the work he did on the cross. This reason alone would be enough to invalidate the teaching, but all these reasons decisively expose the nature of the philosophy. 1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; What this warning comes down to is know who you are following. Will the one you are following get you safely to the destination. There were 128 runners in the cross country race at the 1993 NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships. As they set out on the 6.2 mile run, they were following a course that had been marked for them by the race officials. Toward the end of the course, one of the runners in the middle of the group realized something was wrong. Mike Delcavo of Western State College in Colorado saw that the main pack had missed the turn. “I was waving for them to follow me and yelling ‘This is the right way,’” he told an interviewer after the race. Delcavo was right—but only four other runners followed him. The rest continued on the shortcut, which allowed them to run a shorter distance and finish the race sooner. In a widely-criticized decision, race officials allowed the abbreviated route to stand as the “official course” and Delcavo officially finished 123rd. The world does not always reward staying on track—literally or figuratively. But the path we follow is important to God. One day, those of us who have already trusted Christ for our salvation will appear before the Lord for an evaluation of our service. Our entrance to Heaven is sure—that was settled when we received Christ. But Paul warns us here that we can be taken captive if we start following the wrong leader. If we listen to a philosophy that is useless and driven by lies. If we follow the traditions of man or worldly principles. If we follow these things instead of following Christ. We will find we have been taken captive and serving something other than God. Apply: How do we do this. Well for starters we build a biblical world view. We look at any philosophy though the eyes of the Bible. Does it agree with what God has said? If so then we accept it. Does it disagree with what God has said? If so then we reject it. 2 Corinthians 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, Transition: We do this because of who Christ is and what He has done for us. II. All Christians should know why we are to follow Christ and not men.v9-12 Colossians 2:9–12 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. The Reason Colossians 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, The reason for setting Christ as the measure of philosophy is stated here. There dwells in Christ not some aspect of God, but God in totality. Paul declares that in the Son there is all the fullness of absolute Godhead. Not just some part or portion of God. It does not even say He is divine. He is not just a wise teacher. He is not just a good man. He is not more godly or righteous than other men. He is God. Paul once again points to the greatness of Jesus Christ and tells them again that when they look at Jesus Christ they see God in human flesh John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Dwells” The verb is durative. The translation reads: “Because in Him there is continuously and permanently at home all the fulness of the Godhead in bodily fashion.” The indwelling of the divine fulness in Him is characteristic of Him as Christ, from all ages and to all ages. Hence the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him before His incarnation, when He was ‘in the form of God’ (Phil. 2:6). This is the reason why we should never follow after any teaching that does not line up with what Christ taught. No matter what the source. No matter how logical or reasonable it sounds. No matter how effective it may seem. If it contradicts Christ it goes against God Himself and therefore must be rejected. This is because our salvation is in Christ, our complete salvation. The Savior Colossians 2:10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; Paul means is that in Christ they find the satisfaction of every spiritual want. It therefore any philosophy that contradicts Christ is dangerous and must be rejected. The Christian has already been filled with Christ. Since Christ is where the whole fullness of God dwells Therefore it follows that one need not and should not look elsewhere to experience God or to be filled with the divine presence. The support for this statement follows in the second portion of the verse. Jesus is able to completely fill them because of his position as head over powers and authorities. Christ is the Head of every principality and power is a further reason why they should not seek to them. All they need they have in Christ. The Solution Colossians 2:11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; The previous verses dealt with the theological message of the false teachers. The apostle now turns to their practical errors. ‘You do not need the circumcision of the flesh; for you have received the circumcision of the heart. The Gentile Christians in Colossae had no need to conform to Jewish rules and regulations, such as circumcision. For in Christ they had been circumcised. This spiritual “circumcision” was done by Christ, not by man. The fleshly circumcision removed only a portion of the body. In this spiritual circumcision, through Christ. The whole corrupt, carnal nature is put away like a garment which is taken off and laid aside.” The flesh has been completely removed from its throne of ruling the body the spirit now occupies the throne. This is not to say we never sin again. We are not sinless, but we sin less. We are no longer salves to sin; we have the capacity to choose to not sin. We are a new creation. The Result Colossians 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. Baptism gives a picture of the change already wrought in the heart “through faith.” Notice here that this faith is in the working of God. Has God raised Christ, and He will certainly raise us to new life. It is precisely through faith in such an “operation of God,” that this is experienced. This all happens through faith in Christ. Believers experience the same transforming power of God that Christ did when he was raised from the dead. “raised up with Him” does not refer to our future physical resurrection. It refers to spiritual resurrection from a sinful state into divine life. This was in answer to our faith in the operation of God who raised Christ from the dead. Romans 6:3–4 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. There is a story of a poor family who saved for years to buy tickets to sail to America. Once at sea, they carefully rationed the cheese and bread they had brought for the journey. After 3 days, the boy complained to his father, "I hate cheese sandwiches. “If I don't eat anything else before we get to America, I'm going to die.” Giving the boy his last nickel, the father told him to go to the ship's galley and buy an ice-cream cone. When the boy returned a long time later with a wide smile, his worried dad asked, "Where were you?" "In the galley, eating three ice-cream cones and a steak dinner!" "All that for a nickel?" "Oh, no, the food is free," the boy replied. "It comes with the ticket." The false teachers were telling the Colossians they needed more than Christ to be saved. They had a philosophy that was useless and full of lies, based on the traditions of man and worldly principles. They told them this philosophy was necessary, but in truth everything they needed was already paid for. Christ had paid for it all on the cross. They did not need anything else. Their passage was paid for and the meals were covered. There was no need for anything else. We who have trusted Christ for salvation have been assured not only of safe passage to heaven but also of everything we need to live for Him here and now. To live this we have to trust that Christ is enough. That we do not need anything else. We want to make sure we are not chasing after Christ + something else. The world is full of things claiming to have the answers. If these answers do not line up with the Gospel then we must reject them. We need to do this so that we do not get taken captive by them. Conclusion Warnings can be very helpful. We should be thankful the Bible provides them. This warning Paul has given to the Colossians is very applicable today. The Colossians faced a specific philosophical threat. We are overrun with vast numbers of philosophies that fit Paul’s description. Post-Modern philosophy tells us there is not truth. Atheistic philosophy tells us there is no God. Humanist Philosophy tells us Mankind is the answer to all our problems. Nihilist philosophy tells us nothing matters so why try. Everyone one of these philosophies fits Paul’s description. Every one of them seeks to take us captive, drag us away God and enslave us. Only when we understand that Christ is God and in Him we have all we need. That He has secured our salvation and freed us from Sin. That through faith in Him we have been raised to new life. Only then are we safe from this danger Paul has warned us about. To enter into this safety requires that we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. That His death on the cross paid for our sins. If there is anyone here who has not trusted in Christ’s work on the cross… 1. Review of flow of sermon 2. Raise image and give final challenge and or celebrate: LAND THE PLANE: Prayer: ALTAR CALL If there is anyone here who has not trusted in Christ, anyone still trying to earn Heaven, in a moment I am going to pray a prayer and we are going to sing a song. During that song I would invite you to come forward and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior. Additionally if there is anyone who is in need of prayer I would love for you to come forward so that I can pray for you. And Finally if there is anyone here who wishes to be a member of this Church this is the proper time to come forward and receive membership in this church.