The Expository Files.

Awareness Of Danger

Colossians 2:8

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ," [Colossians 2:8].

To beware is to be aware and informed of danger. It means, to take heed and be on your guard, watching for spiritual dangers. Those who walk through life blind, naive and ignorant run into things and get hurt. This verse tells us to be aware. [See also: Eph. 5:15; 1 Pet. 5:8,9; 1 Jno. 4:1.]

Our text says, "Beware, lest anyone cheat you." The King James says, "Beware lest any man spoil you." The American Standard, "Take heed lest there shall be anyone that maketh spoil of you." Notice this word "spoil." In those days, in a war, captives or prisoners would be taken away. Sometimes they would be paraded before crowds in victory processionals. To be part of the "spoils" of war meant you had been captured, then humiliated, punished and perhaps sold into slavery. This is the picture Paul uses to warn us of what false teachers can do, if we are not careful! [See also: 2 Pet. 2:1-3 & Rom. 16:17,18.] "Beware, lest anyone make spoil of you!"

Notice now the weapons false teachers use to take us captive:

1. Philosophy - a love for some human system of wisdom [1 Tim. 6:20,21; Jer. 10:23.]

2. Empty Deceit. Two ideas emerge from this phrase: {a}that which is deceptive, and {b} that which is empty. When we allow men to deceive is, we wind up with nothing; we are rendered empty by the deceitful teachings and influences of men. [See also: 1 Tim. 2:14; Gal. 6:7-9.]

3. THE TRADITION OF MEN is that which is "of man" and has been handed down from generation to generation. Jesus charged the scribes and Pharisees with this penetrating question: "Why do you transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?" (Matt. 15:3).

4. THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THE WORLD. This probably refers to the old Mosaic law. It was basic, and a necessary step in God's overall plan. It is called "the elements of the world" in Gal. 4:3, but this law had been annulled and was not to be enforced as necessary to salvation [See, Acts 15:1-35; Gal. 5:1-6].

5. THINGS NOT "ACCORDING TO CHRIST." If some teaching is "according to Christ," that means He authorized it; it has His approval. Hence, that which is NOT according to Christ is that which He didn't authorize; that which does not have His approval. These false teachers, who were attempting to influence the saints at Colossae, were using human philosophy, empty deceit, human tradition, the basic principles of the world and other things which were NOT ACCORDING TO CHRIST.

My friend, don't be afraid to hold to this conviction --> If something is not according to Christ, we ought not to have any participation in it!! Paul tells us to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:11).

We ought not to let anybody convince us that there is something we need for our spiritual welfare, unless it is according to Christ. In Colossians 2:8, the apostle Paul sounds the alarm. Will we give heed??

 By  Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 1.3; March, 1994