“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
Anytime someone says to beware we understand they are giving us a warning. A valuable warning is given by someone who is looking out for the best interest of another and has foresight of harm that could potentially happen in the future. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul expresses his excitement for their newfound faith, but is concerned because he knows there are forces at work that will try to persuade them away from Christ by the commandments and doctrines of men which “have an appearance of wisdom (2:22-23).” Basically, he warns them that there are going to be philosohies which seem right but will profit them nothing since they are given without the authority of Christ under the new covenant. After these words of caution, Paul instructs the Colossians on what is right by teaching them to “set [their] mind on things above, not on things on the earth (3:2).”
Doesn’t Paul remind you of a parent teaching their children? Parents have a deep concern for their children’s future and are continually warning them of dangers and instructing them on what they believe is right. If we are to be parents that are looking out for our children’s best interest, we need to be preparing them to recognize those that would cheat them of following Christ. With enemies that use persuasive words, deception, and doctrines that seem right, it means that our children are going to need to be well-equipped so they can identify the adversary and fight for what is right.
If you were going to write to your children in a similar fashion as Paul has written to the Colossians, what would you say to warn them to apply these same principles to their life today? Here is what I have written to my children:
There are forces at work in this world that strive to rob you of your hope in Christ. They speak with persuasive words and teach in ways that seem right, but their end is the way of death (Prov. 14:12). Their doctrines come from their own traditions and desires that neglect the authority of Christ as their head. Beware, because there are many philosophies that have an appearance of wisdom, and could even come from those you love and trust, but will lead you astray. How will you know the difference between what seems right and what is right? You are going to have to “put your nose in the book” and live it. The only way to identify the counterfeit from the real deal is to go to the source of authority. The inspired words in the book of the bible are given by God and will instruct you in doctrine and righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). You will need to devote time each day to study and learn them carefully to escape the deceptions of men. Learning scripture is not enough, though. You will also have to live by the philosophies of scripture by seeking Christ with a commitment to “set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth (Col. 3:2).” By doing this, you put Christ as your Head and follow His commands before anyone or anything else. With this dedication, you will not be cheated of your reward in Christ by the basic principles of the world, but will have everything above and beyond what this world has to offer.
Upon writing these words, I realized that I am making myself accountable to my children. A warning such as this can only be effective if I am living by these principles. I am not only advising them to beware of others, but also of myself as I could be that person that they love and trust that leads them astray. These words are now not only a warning to them but an affirmation of who I need to be for them.
We are all parents who want the best for our children, but are we being who they need us to be to equip them for what is best? What philosophies are you living and teaching your children? Are they from God or from men? Are you depending on what seems right or what is right? How can you know for sure? Go to the source, find out, live by it, and instill this in your children. Then you will be the faithful servant they need to train them to combat the deception of man’s wisdom with the wisdom of Christ.
Have you read Paul’s letter to the Colossians? With just four short chapters, it’s an excellent book that says much on the basic principles of Christian living, whereby learning and applying them, you can be sure that “whatever you do in word or deed, [you] do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him (3:17).”
Our God, Who has given us a better covenant under Your precious Son, Jesus, and has given Him to be the Head over His church, thank You for giving us a Savior Who instructs us through the inspired writings of the apostles under the direction of the Holy Spirit. I commit myself to diligently study these words not only to learn for myself, but to instruct and warn my children so that they can beware of those who would cheat them of their hope in Christ. I will be the example that they need by aligning my life to the authority of Christ. By doing this, I know I am training them to be Your faithful servants, and I humbly thank You for entrusting me with this task. Whatever I do in word or deed, I will do with joy and thanksgiving in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.
Truth in love,