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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 basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (NIV)

The gospel is attractive to spiritually hungry people, and those who submit to Christ receive forgiveness, enter a new family and start a new life. But these spiritual infants are vulnerable and need to be protected. Paul knows that spiritual predators are always nearby waiting for an opportunity to hijack young believers. So he warns the church not to be moved away from Christ as their only hope.
These deceivers want to claim, capture and own people ... making them serve them and their cause. They use 'fine-sounding arguments' (Colossians 2:4) but their ideas are hollow: they deceive with empty promises. 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. But they are spiritual frauds, offering a 'contract' of spiritual benefits in exchange for worldly assets of wealth, honour and obedience to human rules. 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.
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, 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. We can only enter God's kingdom by receiving His grace, and there is no other way to continue! 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