“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:8-10).
What is the most important influence on your life? Is it another person? Is it a religion or one of the many philosophies there are in the world today? Philosophy, as a discipline, can be helpful. But in this passage Paul refers to three things that stand against Christ: philosophy, deceit, and human tradition. Then he names the source of this anti-Christ knowledge: the “Elemental spirits of the world,” and they can take us spiritually captive.
Spiritual deception sometimes poses as spiritual truth. And for some people, this can be hard to distinguish. In biblical times many people wrote their own accounts about the life of Jesus, and even books going farther back into history that present themselves as wisdom from God. We call these works, Pseudepigrapha. Essentially, they were false writing about God and Jesus. Many people in the early church used some of these documents, at first not understanding that they did not paint accurate pictures of Jesus. But as time went by and they became more versed in the actual scriptures, these false books fell out of use until virtually no one regarded them of any authority.
Did you know that many Christians have things they believe just as strongly as they believe the Bible because what they believe sounds right, rather than being actually right? Yet, we should assert today that nothing stands in comparison to the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation of himself and the truths by which he wants to guide us. These truths come from Jesus of whom our passage says, is the “Head of all rule and authority.” Jesus occupies this role because, “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” It’s like the Hillsong song, What A Beautiful Name, which says, “You have no rival. You have no equal.” There is no higher religious claim than that of Christ. And because he fills us by his Spirit, we can discern spiritual truth from spiritual error using scripture, which is the written expression of God’s heart.
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:9-10).
Do you rely on philosophies outside of Christ to organize your life? Have you compared these beliefs with scripture? Think through some of your ideas then compare them to Christ. What should you do with what you learn?