Victim of Philosophy or Complete in Christ?
Updated: 5 days ago
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to the elementary spirits of the world, according to human tradition, 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 (2 Colossians 2:8-10 esv).
"Where God puts a period, the devil puts a question mark, casting doubt." - Steve Lawson
"Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection." - John Calvin.
See to It
See to it means to make sure, to beware. In Colossians 2:8, Paul tells us to beware of philosophy. Beware of anyone coming in the name of the Lord spreading human wisdom or any human theory about the world, about God, about salvation in Christ. God's Word is sufficient. Scripture is the wisdom that leads to eternal life by pointing us all to Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). Stick with the Bible, Christian. May you take God at His Word in reverence and in humility, trusting in its clarity, authority, and sufficiency for your life.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In the words of Herbert Carson, “This does not mean that he should come with a blind, unreasoning faith. But it does mean that instead of bringing philosophical presuppositions which will color his study of Scripture and so prejudice his interpretation, a man comes as one conscience of the finiteness of his intellect and aware that his mind also is affected by his sinful nature. Thus, he is willing to be taught by the Holy Spirit and acknowledges that it is the Word of God rather than his own reason which is the final arbiter of truth.”
In Christ Alone
I am a sinner saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, for the glory of God alone. Jesus lived a sinless life and took the full penalty for my sins on the cross, and His perfect righteousness was imputed to me. By grace through faith in Christ alone, I have peace with God and eternal life. Not only that, His divine power has granted to me everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). In other words, everything I need can be found in Christ alone. He is sufficient. I don’t need to look any further than Jesus, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). In Christ, I am complete.
Unfortunately, an alarming number of professing Christians don’t understand this glorious truth or believe that we’ve been given everything we need in Christ, and in Christ alone.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Even after hearing about the truth in Jesus, many will still be unsatisfied and wander off into worldly deception. They'll search in vain for life's answers through human wisdom, secular teachings, and vain philosophical debates, trusting in their own finite minds above the Word of God. Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him (Proverbs 26:12).
Many will still seek after human wisdom and speculation to interpret Scripture and understand the ultimate truths of the universe. Many will even turn to philosophy to share the gospel, not understanding that it's the power of God through His Word that convicts people of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). It's the power of God's Word carried by His Spirit that brings people to saving faith. (See 1 Corinthians 2 and Romans 10:13-17). So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The gospel is not some marketing exercise we construct by our own cleverness.
Many people attempt to mix philosophy with divine truth, which only tries to add something to what is already perfect. "Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection." - John Calvin. We don't ever need to mix human speculation into the pages of Scripture in order that we might interpret it in a higher way or discover a "greater truth." That's impossible. What God has already made abundantly clear, namely, the way of salvation in Christ, we must never dare to speculate through the broken lens of philosophy. That's proud, unbelieving, and foolish.
Victim of Philosophy or Complete in Christ
One is either a victim of philosophy or is complete in Christ. In human wisdom, we are enslaved, but in Christ, we are set free. We choose either between man’s wisdom or God’s wisdom. And we are only able to choose God's wisdom when He gifts us with our faith to believe in Jesus Christ and are given the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. Unfortunately, many who have tasted the truth still choose to wander away from it and are taken captive by philosophy instead. Philosophy is the same as vain deceit. It’s high-sounding verbiage and nonsense that sounds good on the surface but underneath it's a black pit. Philosophy may sound divine, but in reality, it's an illusion of knowledge; a dry well. It's a trap. There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12) Philosophy tries to lure us in and seduce our minds because it caters to our own pride. In reality, the truth is in the revelation of God, spoken clearly and finally in His Son, Jesus Christ.
What the Cults Offer
Philosophy is what the cults offer. Cults say that we can’t really know the truth until we know what they know. People like this try to make us think they have some superior knowledge than what's already written in the pages of Scripture. Philosophy is according to the rudiments of the world, which means it's like singing the ABCs, especially compared to the power of God's Word. It's elementary and caters to small children, not grown adults."Far from being advanced or having profound knowledge, the false teachers' beliefs were simplistic and immature like the rest of the speculations, ideologies, philosophies, and psychologies the fallen satanic and human system invents" - John MacArthur.
The Word of God is like a Lion
Furthermore, these people can't stand those who speak the truth of God's Word with authority. "The Word of God is like a lion. You don't have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself." Charles Spurgeon. That's because any system of error will disintegrate in the face of the Truth, and God's truth is the ultimate threat to their broken system of lies. They can't stand the clarity, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture because they like to believe they have a system of knowledge that's higher and truer than Christians; a higher revelation, a higher understanding of God's truth. There is no greater revelation than what is found in Jesus Christ alone, the highest, truest, purest form of wisdom that exists. Christ is the ultimate wisdom that supplies righteousness, sanctification, and redemption for the souls who put their trust in Him alone (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Beware of all the deception that is out there in the world. If we as Christians think we can't be deceived, it's likely the deception has already begun. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Christian, beware of the subtle allurement of feeling the need to add something else or something more to Christ, our Supreme Treasure who holds all the answers to the universe from eternity past.
Satan often tries to tempt believers to shift from “Christ alone” to “Christ plus something else” Drifting away from the sufficiency of Christ and His Word can sometimes be very subtle, and it’s nothing new to our current day and age. Subtly is how the devil slithers.
All the way back in the first century, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae to warn them about the alluring attraction of worldly philosophies and human rationale. In the KJV translation, Paul wrote, “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.” (Colossians 2:8). Sadly, these people have let go of the ultimate treasure of truth to return to the bondage of human wisdom. Not only that, they try to lure those who are vulnerable, young, or weak in the faith into their own self-deception. They are wolves in sheep's clothing who play on people's compassion and try to gain their sympathy by pretending to be a sad victim of some sort. They try to test you and groom you with mind games, and they come to steal your time, kill your energy, and seek to destroy your blessings from God. The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Beware, Christian.
False Prophets Who Come to You As Sheep..
As Jesus says "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15), Paul says to beware of anyone trying to spoil you through vain deceit (Colossians 2:8). That's because many will come in the name of the Lord and attempt to subtly drag us away from our treasury of truth in Christ. They're slick, and sometimes they'll mix only a little error in with a lot of truth, only a little philosophy into Scripture. That's like mixing a drop of cyanide into a big glass of water. 99 percent is pure. 1 percent is deadly, and that's all it takes to kill us - if we choose to ingest it. We can't let anyone take us captive by philosophy, lead us astray through vain deceit, or plunder the treasure we've been given in Christ. Beware, Christian.
Be discerning, Christian. A false prophet will reveal his true colors by two ways: by what he teaches and by how he lives. Search the Scriptures like the noble Bereans, and be a careful fruit inspector over a period of time. Be patient, Christian. See if what he says matches up with Scripture, and carefully inspect the way he lives his life, talks to you, and behaves around you and others. Jesus said, "You will recognize them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16). They will not get very far because their foolishness will soon be clear to everyone (2 Timothy 3:9).
Guarding Against Philosophy
How did Paul help guard the Colossians against the subtle allurement of human wisdom and philosophy? He simply pointed them to the exceptional glory and surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ as their supreme treasure. That’s because hidden in Jesus Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), and He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Those who trust in Christ don’t need human wisdom. Philosophy is worthless to us who truly believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. As Scripture makes clear, Christ is sufficient, and philosophy is vain deceit. Using human wisdom and philosophy to navigate life, solve human problems, interpret the truths of Scripture, or share the gospel with the unsaved, is done so in vanity. Philosophy is a waste of time when we've already been given the divine wisdom of God's Word and the Holy Spirit to interpret it responsibly and accurately. Whenever philosophy may happen to line up with Scripture, we don’t need it. Whenever philosophy contradicts Scripture, which is a lot, we don’t want it. In other words, it's worthless.
How Can We Understand God's Hidden Wisdom?
Divine wisdom cannot be understood by human reasoning or rationale but only by the Holy Spirit. That's why it's also called hidden wisdom. But as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him - these things God has revealed to us by his Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
This verse, often incorrectly interpreted to refer to the wonders of heaven, actually refers to the wisdom that God has hidden from the world but has prepared for believers. In other words, God’s truth is not discoverable by eye or ear (objective or empirical evidence), nor is it discovered by the heart, mind, or mere human intellect or logic (subjective or rational conclusions). But God has revealed His wisdom to His children by His Spirit.
God’s hidden wisdom is only discoverable and understood by those who put their trust in Christ alone for salvation. God’s wisdom is foolishness or insufficient to unbelievers, and many times, offensive to the proud and hard-hearted. His wisdom cannot be fully understood, trusted, and loved apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Spirit is the One who searches the deep things of God, and believers have not only been given His Spirit but the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Science is empiricism, and philosophy is rationalism. According to 1 Corinthians 2:9, neither science nor philosophy will ever discover ultimate truths. Only God's Spirit will help us to come to know and love Jesus Christ, who is the highest, purest, truest form of wisdom that exists, and nothing outside of Him is ever needed to enhance Him. He is perfect. He is complete. And He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). And in Him, we are made perfect and complete, fully equipped for every good work (Colossians 1:28, 2 Timothy 3:17)
The Lord has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, and only in Christ are we able to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments (Colossians 2:3).
There is no higher knowledge than Jesus Christ. There is no outside knowledge that could ever add to Jesus Christ. Jesus plus nothing = everything. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (See all of 1 Corinthians 2 & 3). Jesus is all I need to know. Jesus is all I need.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1)
5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1John 4:5-6).
having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:5-7)
“Beware, lest you being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your own steadfastness.” 2 Peter 3:17
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:16-17