Faithlife Sermons

Where Are Your Roots

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Passage: Colossians 2
Main Idea: When re faith is in anything besides Christ, we become susceptible to false doctrine.
Message Goal: Reveal the dangers of being unaware and unlearned. Take a serious attempt at knowing the truth and measure things by the Word of God.


On yesterday our family spent seven hours with a family who were victims of a cult that had almost ruined their lives. They were so invested in this system of belief…such beautiful souls…almost taken by the false doctrines of men. I sat listening and was saddened by the grief they were experiencing, because of the stand they had taken. My wife dare not discuss it after leaving, because of the sadness that filled her heart. As I left I became fully reminded that Christians must serve as apologists in order to be evangelists. For, there are cults that seek to take away our freedom in Christ.
A cult is a system of religious belief and practice; in late 20th century term often used to describe religious movements outside of the mainstream, such as Hare Krishna (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) and Unification Church (“Moonies”), founded by Sun Myung Moon, in U.S.; such usually authoritarian sects are often accused of recruiting members through aggressive tactics such as manipulation or so-called “brainwashing,” often taking advantage of weak, credulous, or alienated youths; fund-raising and proselytizing are often major responsibilities of members. Cult. (2015). In Compton’s Encyclopedia. Compton’s Encyclopedia.
Jude 3 “3 Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.” Tells us to fight for the faith. The language in this text encourages the believer to do battle for the faith. Such an exhortation requires us to think about how to strategically defend the faith. No on goes to battle without a strategy. So, we too must have a strategy on how to oppose false doctrines and ideology.
There are a few major doctrines that we must be concerned with in this day:
Ultra faith movement
Ethnic/ American
Ultra inclusion movement
Holiness Cult
These movements are the subtle attacks of the enemy to destroy the faith of many. As believers, our confidence should be in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ and nothing else. If there’s anything that disrupts that, we are moving in the wrong direction. What are the ways we become susceptible to cults?
Captivated by charismatic leaders
Too committed to movements
Biblical ignorance
Today, we are going to look at what Paul had to say about the dangers of doctrinal error in Colossians 2. From here we will examine to protect ourselves from false teaching and ideas.

Colossians 2

Verse 6 “walk in him” Imperative meaning to live or behave in the manner of Christ. This has everything to do with how we live our lives. The point here is that the one who receives Christ will have a responsibility of living like Him. This is a fundamental way to avoid errors.
Verse 7 “being rooted” refers to the establishment one has. As a plant is grounded so should a believer be in Christ. This term is a participle, indicating the continuing process of being rooted. Yet, there is an end to the root—that is to be built up. However, here again the verb for “built up” is a participle, indicating that one’s construction is continual.
This verse shows us that our growth is a continual process of development. The fundamental key to our development is being in Christ.
Yet, there is another responsibility. That is, we are to be “established” in the faith. So then, our roots and development in Christ should be partnered with our security in the faith. The word “established” means to be settled unconditionally and securely.
These two or three things only happen when one has been taught.
Verse 8 “beware” is a strong imperative, which demands caution and awareness. There are three important cautions here:
Philosophy and vain deceit: The warning is against being “spoiled” or taken captive by some “vain” or “empty” deceit [deception] and philosophy [a belief or system of philosophical beliefs accepted as authoritative by some group or school].
Tradition: long standing practices handed down by respected authorities
World powers/ influence: rudiments of this world are in control over events in this world

The confrontation of the elements and Christ already indicates that they are conceived of as personal powers. Furthermore, the context as a whole shows that the elements of the universe are precisely those demonic principalities who want to exercise their tyranny over men (2:10*, 15*).41 Against this teaching about the “elements of the universe,” which control men’s lives and which bring demands men must satisfy (cf. 2:16–23*),42 the clear antithesis stands: there is only one authority that can rightfully claim to be Lord over everything and thus to be the only Lord over the life and conduct of the community—Christ. The community must not be led astray to acknowledge other authorities beside him. For the community’s course must be solely under the command of the Lord, who alone gives it direction and purpose: “according to Christ” (κατὰ Χριστόν).

In Hellenistic syncretism the teaching about the elements was mythologized, so that the “elements” were described as animated spirits. In the Orphic hymns it says: “Eminent fire, the world’s best element” (ὑψιφανὴς Αἰθέρ, κόσμου στοιχεῖον ἄριστον 5:4) and “[Vulcan], workman, destiny of the world, pure element” ([Ἥφαιστʼ] ἐργαστήρ, κόσμοιο μέρος, στοιχεῖον ἀμεμφές 66:4 [Trans.]). At a later period, in the Testament of Solomon, the “elements” are described as beings who appear to be persons. Solomon sees seven spirits coming and asks them who they are. He receives the answer: “We are the elements, the cosmic rulers of darkness” (ἡμεῖς ἐσμεν στοιχεῖα κοσμοκράτορες τοῦ σκότους 8:2). A group of thirty-six spirits likewise introduces itself with the words: “We are the thirty-six elements, the world—rulers of the darkness of this age” (ἡμεῖς ἐσμεν τὰ τριάκοντα ἓξ στοιχεῖα, οἱ κοσμοκράτορες τοῦ σκότους τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου 18:2 [Trans.]). The term στοιχεῖα not only designates the elements of the universe but also the stars which consist of the elements, and whose constellations control the order of the entire universe as well as men’s fate. Consequently, the twelve signs of the zodiac are called “the twelve elements” (τὰ δώδεκα στοιχεῖα Diogenes Laertius 6:102). Whoever knows how to discern and chart the course of the stars gains powerful knowledge. It is told of the Egyptian king Nectanebos that he had magical power at his disposal, “for all the elements of the universe were subject to his word” (τὰ γὰρ κοσμικὰ στοιχεῖα λόγῳ πάντα αὐτῷ ὑπετάσσετο Ps.-Callisthenes 1, 1, 3 [Trans.]). And in the Paris Magical Papyrus 4, 1303 the constellation of Ursa Major, which never sets, is called: “beautiful-shining goddess, incorruptible element” (καλλιφεγγὴ <ς> θεά, στοιχεῖον ἄφθαρτον PreisZaub 1, p. 116 [Trans.]). With the help of magical knowledge a person can harness for his own purposes the power of the “elements” and release supermundane forces.

Interwoven with the syncretistic embroidery of notions about the “elements of the universe” are also strands of Jewish speculations about how the universe hung together. To be sure, in Judaism no divine dignity is ascribed to the stars. They are, however, related to the angels, be it that the angels ruled over the stars, or be it that the stars themselves were thought of as a distinct class of angels. In apocalyptic vision the order of the stars was revealed to the seer: “And I saw other lightnings and the stars of heaven, and I saw how He called them all by their names and [how] they hearkened unto Him. And I saw … their revolution according to the number of the angels, and [how] they keep faith with each other” (1 En 43:1f). Just as God gave his orders to the angels, so too he prescribed the course that the stars should take (1 En 60:11f; 69:20–25, etc.). Full of reverential awe, the seer beholds the established relationships of the cosmic order: “And there I saw seven bands of angels, very bright and very glorious, and their faces shining more than the sun’s shining … And these make the orders, and learn the goings of the stars, and the alteration of the moon, … and the good government of the world. And when they see evil-doing, they make commandments and instruction, and sweet and loud singing, and all songs of praise. These are the archangels … and the angels who are appointed over seasons and years, and the angels who are over rivers and sea, and the angels who are over the fruits of the earth, and the angels who are over every grass, giving food to all, and the angels of all the souls of men” (2 En 19:1–4 [Charles, APOT modified]). Angels are “the elders and rulers of the stellar orders.” They have power over “the stars and the composition of heaven” (2 En 4:1 [Charles, APOT modified]).

While in Judaism worship and reverence were alone offered to the one God, in the world of syncretism the cosmic powers were worshipped as divine powers: “And this is said with regard to those gods who rule over the elements, those who preside over all the elements” (καὶ πρὸς τοὺς στοιχειοκράτορας λέγεται θεούς, τοὺς τῶν ὅλων στοιχείων ἐπιβεβηκότας Simplicius, Comm. in IV libros Aristotelis de caelo 1, 3 [Trans.]). From ancient times the stars and powers which determine and preserve the universe received offerings and were worshipped. Herodotus narrates of the Persians: “They sacrifice also to the sun and moon and earth and fire and water and winds” (θύουσιν δὲ ἡλίῳ τε καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ γῇ καὶ πυρὶ καὶ ὕδατι καὶ ἀνέμοισι 1, 131). In Hellenistic times this reverence was explained by the assertion that man is formed out of the same elements from which the entire cosmos had been fashioned. This correlation of microcosm and macrocosm implies that “just as light is apprehended by the luciform sense of sight, and sound by the aeriform sense of hearing, so also the nature of all things ought to be apprehended by its kindred reason” (καὶ ὡς τὸ μὲν φῶς ὑπὸ τῆς φωτοειδοῦς ὄψεως καταλαμβάνεται, ἡ δὲ φωνὴ ὑπὸ τῆς ἀεροειδοῦς ἀκοῆς, οὕτω καὶ ἡ τῶν ὅλων φύσις ὑπὸ συγγενοῦς ὀφείλει καταλαμβάνεσθαι τοῦ λόγου Sextus Empiricus, Adv. math. 1:93). Where faith in God and gods had grown weak, magical fear of sinister forces often supplanted it. Either a person strove to do justice to all the gods, to those of the heavenly world as well as to those of the underworld and to those of the realm in between, and to implore them all together; or a person adhered to the stars and elements and swore by them: “I adjure you by the sun and the moon and by the courses of the five planets, by nature and providence and the four elements” (ὁρκίζω σε Ἥλιον καὶ Σελήνην καὶ τῶν πέντε ἀστέρων τοὺς δρόμους φύσιν τε καὶ πρόνοιαν καὶ τὰ τέσσαρα στοιχεῖα Vettius Valens 7, 5 [p. 293, 27]) [Trans.].37 Man’s cry to God went upward through the elements: “You are god. This is what the man who belongs to you cries through fire, through air, through earth, through water, through spirit, through your creatures” (σὺ εἶ ὁ θεός. ὁ σὸς ἄνθρωπος ταῦτα βοᾷ διὰ πυρός, διʼ ἀέρος, διὰ γῆς, διὰ ὕδατος, διὰ πνεύματος, διὰ τῶν κτισμάτων σου Corp. Herm. 13:20 [Trans.]). Thus it is necessary not only to possess knowledge about the elements, the movements of the stars, and the powers of the cosmos; man must also become part of the cosmic order insofar as he proffers the powers and principalities the requisite reverence and submits to the laws and prescriptions they impose upon his life.

Verse 9 The reference to “rudiments” opens up this entire path for verse 9. The reference to the Godhead, speaks to Jesus being divine. The point is to not follow up with worldly claims towards divinity, because the The Divine is Christ. That is, Jesus was God [the divine] in the flesh.
Verse 15 gives us two additional concerns to consider:
Principalities- supernatural beings that rule and command
Powers- a person who exercises administrative control over others
The point is there are those who act out what evil rulers command. Paul is saying, don’t follow them! God has spoiled or disarmed them, publicly.
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