Knowing our King | Colossians 2:8
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Chapter 2 has a pattern; Paul will warn us and then inform us pertaining to the truth that will guard us against the lie. The chapter seems to be built around the instructions found in verses 4, 8, 16, and 18.
:4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
After each of these instructions comes information that is meant to bolster us and equip us to carry out the commandment. Like soldiers in a war we are briefed on our mission and what to watch for and what to do, and then we are issued the appropriate weapons, implements, and information to carry out the orders. With that thought in mind let’s look at our orders from Verse 8.
He starts with a call to vigilance; beware. As my coach used to tell us on the ball field, “Look alive!” Now, we aren’t on a ball field but a battlefield, and our vigilance won’t be the difference between winning or losing a ball game but winning or losing the battle. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8) Dear friends we must be awake and alert, our enemy has no rules of engagement or hours of operations but walketh to and fro. He is not seeing whom he can irritate but whom he may devour! He may devour by false doctrines, he may devour by problems and despair or he may devour by prosperity and the deceitfulness of riches, his tactics are many but his goal is one, “Steal, kill, and destroy.” So Truly, Beware.
What we are being called to watch for in verse 8 is not Satan himself, but men who have been deceived by him; “Beware, lest any man spoil you.” The word spoil comes from means to steal or plunder, think of pirates who come and pillage another ship or community. Now, these aren’t patch-wearing, peg-leg pirates who want your money. No, they are much more dangerous and are after much more valuable bounty, our fellowship, and joy in Christ, and they fly under the skull and bones of the greatest thief and murderer that ever has been, Satan. Notice by what means they would spoil us, “Through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
If the “weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” then the opposite is true of the weapons of our enemy. They are carnal and are mighty in their ability to appeal to our carnal natures. That is precisely what Philosophy, traditions of men and the rudiments of the world do. They have their strength in their appeal to our lust for earthy wisdom that “puffs up,” to our religious nature like that of Cains, who wanted to serve God by his tradition and not God’s. We could spend hours looking at each of these weapons formed against us and their effects, but our phrase “Not after Christ” is sufficient to show us of what sort and to what end these weapons are formed. Anyone or anything, any teaching that is not after Christ is there to rob you, to spoil you, of your confidence, joy, peace, and fellowship with Christ. Nothing can separate us from His love or from the position we have in Him but what we are in danger of losing is our enjoyment of salvation, the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. Don’t lend your ears to these Gospel bandits that are teaching a christ of philosophy, or the christ of tradition, or any other “That is not, but another!” Slowly and without notice their teachings will appeal to your old man, and they will latch on to your heart like leeches and suck the vitality out of your Christian walk. Beware! Beware!
So far, our Instruction in this chapter has been in verse 4 “This I say, lest any man spoil you.” This verse points us to what has been said and that is our line of offense. His word is what we war with, and it is mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. With a few swings of the Sword of the Spirit, Jesus set Satan on his path defeated and so it is with us. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Draw the Sword of the Spirit and cut right through the lies of this world and every teaching and teacher that is “not after Christ.” Our second instruction is the one we have today “Beware.” That is all, sometimes watching is enough, remember the instruction of our Lord in the garden “Watch, lest ye enter into temptation!” Keep your eyes open and your heart discerning. He directs our eyes to His Word in verse 4 and in verse 8 he directs our eyes to the battle we are engaged in. Beware of sin, beware of self, and beware of Satan, we “are not ignorant of his devices.” Take inventory of the people you allow yourself to listen to, and be watchful. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”