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Don't Be Deceived

Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (NIVUK)

The gospel is attractive to spiritually hungry people, and all those who submit to Christ receive forgiveness, are adopted as God’s children into His family where they start a new life (Acts 26:17-18).  But these spiritual infants are vulnerable (1 Corinthians 3:1-2).  They need to be protected (Acts 20:28).  Paul knew that spiritual predators are always nearby waiting for an opportunity to hijack young believers (2 Peter 3:17).  So, he warns the church not to be moved away from Christ as their only hope.
These deceivers sound sincere, and often genuinely believe that they are right.  But their teaching does not have Christ as the Son of God, crucified and raised, at its centre.  They may not even understand that they have been deceived.  In their zeal they do not know that they are blind guides (Matthew 15:14).  Like Satan, they are passionate to claim, capture and own people ... making them serve them and their cause (1 Peter 5:8).  They use 'fine-sounding arguments' (Colossians 2:4) but their ideas are hollow: they deceive with empty promises.  

Because they are not telling the truth they are distributing lies, which is the devil’s trademark (John 8:44).  Some of these liars use human ideas offering promises of security, favouritism, or power in exchange for devotion, service and money.  Looking at them objectively, they are simply running a business, trading in people.  Some preach the gospel but also allow lifestyles which God has forbidden.  Others are spiritual frauds, offering spiritual benefits in exchange for worldly assets of wealth, honour, and obedience to human rules (1 Timothy 6:3-5).  Paul warned the elders at Ephesus about people in their church who would prey on immature believers, "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20:30).  By contrast, genuine born-again believers have been bought by Christ (at no cost to themselves) in a covenant of grace where forgiveness and peace with God are free; and love replaces fear (1 Peter 1:18-22).
There is no need to naïvely accept what is untrue.  What we accept is our choice.  Jesus said, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." (Matthew 7:15).  And Paul wrote, "I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them." (Romans 16:17).  The antidote to this poisonous error is to stick closely to the apostles' teaching about Christ, and how to live a new life in Him (Titus 1:9).  We can only enter God's kingdom by receiving His grace, and there is no other way to continue (Colossians 2:6)!  So, if you have been pulled away from Christ, turn back to Him.  If you are walking with Him, watch out lest you fall to some subtle deception or oppressive persuasion, and move away from the grace of Christ.

Gracious God. Thank You that I am saved by Your grace alone. I am sorry when I move away from Your all-sufficient love, wisdom and power - sampling less-worthy things which can never save or bring peace with You. Help me to be wise, discerning truth from error in the different voices which shout or whisper into my life. I want to hold firmly to the apostles' teaching and use it as a gold standard of truth. Help me to be firm in my decision to live according to Your Word. I also pray for my friends who have been trapped by false teachers: help me to help them by leading them back to Your truth. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams