Colossians 2:18-19a

Let No Man Beguile You of Your Reward

 

Introduction:

1. Paul just warned the believers not to allow anyone to JUDGE you.

2. Now he warns us not to allow anyone to BEGUILE us.

The Warning Concerning Beguilers


A. Let NO man beguile you

1. “Beguile you of your reward” is one word in Greek.

a. Beguile defined: to decide as umpire against someone; disqualify for a prize, decide against giving out a reward.

b. Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament: to judge as a referee that someone is not worthy to receive a prize – to judge as not worthy of a reward, to deprive of a reward.

2. The concept

a. The concept behind this warning is a familiar one in the New Testament.

b. Paul refers to the fact that a worthy walk is rewarded in glory with rewards.

c. I Cor. 3:8 – we are all going to be rewarded according to our labor for the Lord… for the way we live, walk, and serve.

d. I Cor. 3:11-15 – faithful service for the Lord is rewarded.
• But our potential rewards CAN all go up in smoke if we are not building on the foundation properly.
• We are building our lives and ministries on a solid foundation as believers.
• But there are various materials we could use in this construction project.
• The final building project (our lives) will pass through the fire one day… the judgment seat of Christ… and only those materials that pass through the fire are rewarded.
• Believers who are taught well are taught to build only with gold, silver, and precious stones. They will receive a reward for that.
• Believers who are NOT taught well may be building with cheap materials—wood, hay, and stubble. That will be burned up as useless. There is NO reward for that.
• Paul’s warning in Colossians is that there are some teachers who are teaching believers the WRONG way to live… the WRONG way to walk… the WRONG way to build our lives.
• Those who do so are BEGUILING you of the reward you COULD have had, had you built on the foundation properly!
• There is a RIGHT way to build and wrong way to build.

e. II Tim. 2:5 – not all religious efforts are rewarded by God.
• It is possible to strive for masteries… to strive hard… and to do so in the wrong way. No reward!
• The person who taught you to strive that way has disqualified you from a reward you could have had!
• Any teacher who promotes a WRONG method of sanctification is beguiling believers of their reward.
• They are rendering us disqualified from being rewarded at the Bema seat!

f. There is a right way to run the race and a wrong way.
• The right way is to lay aside the weight and besetting sins and to run with patience, looking unto Jesus.
• The wrong way is to assume that grace means I can hold on to my besetting sins and run occasionally, and look unto myself, my pharmacist, and my therapist… instead of looking unto Jesus.
• The right way is to walk by faith; the wrong way is to walk by sight and feelings.
• The right way is to trust in Christ; the wrong way is the way of self-reliance.
• The right way is the way of grace; the wrong way is by means of the law.
• The faithful teacher will teach you the BIBLICAL way to run… to walk… to live the Christian life.
• False teachers teach the WRONG way to run… a course of his own devising… a course that is contrary to the course established by God.
• If we listen to the false teachers and stray OFF course, we are disqualified from earning a reward from the Lord.

3. There are LOTS of ways in which false teachers rob believers of our rewards.

a. Legalism; asceticism; ceremonialism; mysticism; tradition; psychology; a prescription; yoga; etc.

b. Paul gives a small list in this passage of some of the ways that the particular false teachers in Colossae were attempting to rob the Colossian believers from their rewards.

c. But there are countless ways in which men can rob US from our rewards.

d. Any time men (even Christian men) come up with a plan to deal with the sin nature and change human behavior, and that plan differs from God’s plan in Romans 6 or Colossians 3, we are in danger of being ROBBED spiritually.

e. I have seen Christians promoting 12 step programs (like AA) for dealing with sins such as alcohol and other addictive behavior.

f. I have often heard and read about the principle of substitution. (If you want to quit smoking, chew gum.)

g. Some promote acupuncture as a means of dealing with certain behavioral issues.

h. Yoga is used to deal with stress – even by believers.

i. Some have chosen to resort to a prescription pill to deal with depression and anxiety.

j. Some attempt to discipline children by using time-outs as a substitute for God’s method, spanking.

k. Even hypnosis works for helping people to quit smoking.

l. The method of robbing believers that is MOST often used today is psychology… hands down. Psychology is often sprinkled with a few Bible verses to give it an air of respectability in Christian circles.

m. All of the above are methods developed and devised by unsaved men to deal with the issue of sin and undesirable or deviant human behavior.
• They are the ways of men. Men have been dealing with these issues for many centuries, and after all this time have come up with some ways that seem to work.
• They are often successful at one level. Some are quite successful in changing human behavior.
• Testimonials abound of people who have been helped by AA, their psychologist, hypnotist, etc…
• The world deems them to be success stories because their standards are different from ours.
• Their goal is behavior modification (to get the smoker to stop smoking; to get the worrier to stop worrying; to get the alcoholic to stop drinking).
• God’s goal is infinitely deeper than that. God’s goal is transformation into the image of Christ.
• Going to AA does not make us more like Christ; taking a prescription drug for your depression does not make you more like Christ.
• In fact, it makes you more like the world—which is at enmity against God! You’re using their methods to accomplish their goals. There is no spiritual victory in that!
• This is what worldliness IS… trusting in the world and its ways… looking to the world and its ways for help, strength, comfort, elevating the world and its ways above God and His ways, it is believing the world and its philosophy when it says, “You don’t need God; we’ll take care of your problems…” when we should be turning to God.

4. But the issue isn’t “does it work.” The real issue ought to be, “Is it the RIGHT way to deal with my behavior?”

a. The world looks at life from a “this life only” perspective.
• The world’s philosophy is, “This life is all there is; it’s all that matters.”
• And worldly believers think that way too.
• If this life is all there is, then use whatever method of behavior modification will help you in this life…
• If your goal is to be more comfortable in this life…

b. A spiritual and heavenly perspective changes one’s outlook entirely.
• This life is NOT all there is for the believer.
• One day we shall stand before the Lord and give an ACCOUNT for everything done in the body.
• II Cor. 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
• Rom. 14:12 – So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
• God is going to judge our lives not on a superficial basis. (Did you quit smoking, drinking, worrying, swearing, did you stop your depression…)
• God digs deeper. He is concerned not only about our behavior, but our motives (WHY?)… and our methods (HOW?).
• Did you trust God and follow the instructions in His Word… or did you trust what the world said and follow their instructions?
• God only rewards TRUE, inward, spiritual transformation that stems from a heart’s desire to honor Him… and to follow HIS ways… to trust in Him… and those works which were empowered by the Holy Spirit (not outward behavioral changes that stem from a prescription or a hypnotist)…
• There is a HUGE difference to God.
• One is external behavior modification. The other is internal transformation into the image of Christ.
• One is the work of the flesh; the other is the work of the Holy Spirit.
• One is rewarded; the other burned up as wood, hay, and stubble… worthless.

c. Those who influence believers to follow a counterfeit way of life… the world’s way of dealing with human behavior… any way of dealing with sin that differs from the course God revealed in the epistles, are ROBBING us of the reward we could have had by following God’s way.
• God is delighted with the work the Spirit does in yielded, trusting believers and He rewards it.
• God is disgusted with the very best efforts of the flesh and He condemns it.
• The Sadducees and Pharisees were experts at cleaning up the outside of the cup, but Christ rebuked those efforts.
• Cleaning the outside of the cup has always been man’s way… but it never gets to the heart of the matter… INSIDE the cup. It cannot change the heart.
• God isn’t interested in superficiality, and He certainly doesn’t reward it. He’s interested in the real thing. He does reward that.
• Isa. 8:20 – To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
• Don’t let any one BEGUILE you of your reward, by deceiving you into following their man-made scheme to produce good fruit… or to lead a holy life.
• Paul warned the Galatians in 5:7: Ye did run well; who did hinder you? that ye should not obey the truth?
• It is possible to be running a race, and then follow the advice of someone who tells you to take a short cut… and thus be disqualified from any reward.

5. Present imperative:

a. Imperative: This is a command to every believer.

b. Present tense indicates that it is an ongoing issue… a constant concern.
• Continually be on guard against those who seek to beguile you… rob you of your reward…there is no letting down of our guard… because new plans and schemes are being concocted every day!
• The fact that this is a command makes it OUR personal responsibility to obey.
• It is MY job to keep myself from being beguiled. It is YOUR job to keep yourself from being beguiled.

c. That means that we need to KNOW the Biblical method of walking with God… we need to know what God says about HOW to lead a holy life… HOW to be holy as He is holy.
• Hence, the need for much Bible teaching.
• It is all recorded for us in the Word. We have all we need for life and GODLINESS in the Scriptures. We have GOD’S method of sanctification… and God expects us to KNOW it.
• The only way we can spot a counterfeit method is to know the REAL thing… in the Bible.

6. The fact that we are commanded not to let these men beguile us of our reward indicates that they WILL attempt to do so.

a. They will not only attempt to do so, but they will be successful if we are not diligent in obeying this command.

7. The world and its teachers will attack. Their attack is certain.

a. But it is OUR responsibility to NOT allow them to be successful.

b. Their attacks are certain AND also continual.

c. The present tense of the verb indicates that they will continually attempt to beguile us, and thus, we need to be continually vigilant.

d. It is good for us as believers to KNOW that there are folks out there trying to highjack our Christian faith and walk, and change it into something else.

e. And if they can get us to follow their schemes, they will have been successful in beguiling us of our rewards.

f. We are only rewarded for running the race God’s way… for staying on the course God laid out.

g. If we run some other course, we are disqualified. And those who taught us to run that way have robbed us of our reward.

h. Remember, there is no crown unless we strive LAWFULLY according to God’s Word…

i. God sets the rules in running this race and living this life: not Oprah Winfrey, or Dr. Spock, or your local pharmacist.

j. If we follow God’s program, we are rewarded. If we follow man’s program, we lose our reward. They have BEGUILED us of our reward.

8. It is MY job to warn you about those who are trying to steer you off course and thus cause you to lose your reward.

a. It is YOUR responsibility to LEARN the true way and follow it.

b. It is ALSO YOUR responsibility to recognize the false way and reject it.

c. Let no man beguile you.

d. And remember, in this section, Paul is speaking about false methods of LIVING the Christian life… wrong methods of sanctification… wrong ways of dealing with sin.

The Means of the Beguiling


A. Means of Beguiling in Colossae

1. Paul mentions three different means of beguiling used by the false teachers in Colossae:

a. Voluntary humility

b. Worshipping of angels

c. Intruding into those things which he hath not seen

2. These all deal with various aspects of Oriental mysticism.

a. One author defined this as: the belief that a person can have an immediate experience with the spiritual world, completely apart from the Word of God or the Holy Spirit.

b. It was an attempt to bypass God’s word and have an inner experience… such as a vision or some other experience.

c. After all, if you have had the experience, who needs God’s Word to test it. Their view was, “I felt it. I know it’s true.”

d. This is quite similar to some of the thinking in charismatic circles today.

B. Voluntary Humility

1. Humility defined: modesty, humility, lowliness of mind; self abasement.

a. This is a GOOD quality. It is a Christlike quality.

b. We are often exhorted to be humble and of a lowly mind.

c. However, Paul is pointing out ERROR here. He is describing the attitudes of the FALSE teachers.

d. Hence, he is describing a phony version of humility… a false humility… an outward display of humility, just for looks…

e. It is a form of godliness with no power of the Spirit behind it.

f. It is linked together with a puffed up fleshly mind.
• The contrast: between false “lowliness” and a mind that is “puffed up.”
• What hypocrisy! An outward lowliness that originates in a mind that is puffed up… proud… exalting self, yet giving the appearance of being lowly and humble.

2. Voluntary defined: to will; to desire; to delight in; to be fond of; to take pleasure in a thing.

a. Used in Mark 12:38 – Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces.

b. False teachers LOVE to be recognized as holy and special.

c. In Col. 2, the false teachers LOVED to be recognized as humble.

d. In fact, they were PROUD of their humility!

e. Voluntary humility is a phony, outward, humility which brings great pleasure to the hypocrite behind the mask.

f. It is an outward appearance of humility designed to draw attention to self… and make self appear to be humble, and thus, spiritual.

g. It is voluntary in the sense that they can turn it on or off at will. It is a humility of their own choosing…

C. Worshipping of Angels

1. Worship: religious worship, esp. external, that which consists of ceremonies; religious discipline.

a. This term is used 4 times in New Testament—once translated worship and three times translated “religion.”

b. This is not the normal term for worship… but speaks of worship in an external sense.

c. Hence, it is appropriate for Paul to use it here of that which the false teachers were promoting: a false religious practice of worshipping angels.

d. They gave angels great veneration and attempted to approach God through angels.

2. They reasoned this way: “I am too lowly to approach God… I must approach Him through an angel.”

a. This is false humility based on unbelief:
• It is unbelief because God said NOT to worship angels, but to worship God exclusively!
• It is unbelief because God said we are ABLE to enter into the holy of holies because of the blood of Christ.
• We can enter into the very presence of God IF we believe in the power of the blood to cleanse from all sin and purge the conscience.

b. It is false humility too.
• It is merely pretending to be humble.
• The apostles taught that we as believers can have direct fellowship with God and with Christ the risen Savior… because of the power of the blood of Christ.
• The false apostles then said that Paul and the other apostles are presumptuous. WE (the false apostles) are the truly humble ones who recognize we are too lowly to come into God’s presence.
• The false teachers were reluctant to approach God except indirectly.
• The Colossian heresy taught that humanity is debased by contact with matter (which they considered evil), and thus we must approach God through intermediate beings… like angels.”
• It was an attempt to make them LOOK humble in contrast to the apostles, whom they hoped to paint as presumptuous and proud.

c. In reality, the opposite was true.
• Theirs was a FALSE humility based upon PRIDE. They wanted to stand out… to appear to be humble… and to have others think highly of them for their humility.
• And it is not humility to approach God through an angel if God said NOT to do so. That is called disobedience!
• The Bible says that we approach the Father through the Son. He is the ONE and only mediator.
• It is not humility to say, “I’m too lowly to approach God through Christ. I’ll approach Him through an angel instead.” That’s not humility; that’s disobedience and unbelief!
• Rome does this with Mary.
» They say that we need to approach God through Mary.
» When clearly the Bible says “there is ONE mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” (I Tim. 2:5) Jesus said, “I am the Way… no man comes to the Father buy by Me.”
» Approaching God any other way is an act of disobedience and unbelief robed in a false humility… which in reality is fleshly, religious PRIDE.
» These are some of the methods false teachers use to rob us of our rewards.
» The false teachers were able to give unbelief, disobedience, and pride the appearance of faith, humility and worship!
» And no marvel, for Satan himself has transformed himself into an angel of light.
» They can make darkness look like light… deceive the lost… and even beguile believers!

3. Christ, not angels, is to be worshipped.

a. Angels are not above Christ, but below Him.
• Col. 1:16 – Christ created them all!
• Col. 2:9 – Christ is the head of all principalities and powers.
• Col. 2:9 – in Christ is the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
• Christ is the Creator-God to be worshipped; angels are creatures… who worship Christ.
• Heb. 1:6-8 – contrast between the Son and angels.
• Rev. 22:8-9 – John attempted to worship an angel and was rebuked. The angel’s response: I’m only a servant. Worship God!
• Angels worshipped God in Isa. 6… in Rev. 4-5…
• Jesus said to Satan; “It is written, ‘?Ye shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shalt thou serve’ ” (?Matt. 4:10?)

b. If false teachers can get our attention and focus OFF Christ and ON angels (creatures), they have succeeded in beguiling us of our reward.
• Rom. 1:25 – this is just what the pagans did earlier: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
• That is the goal of Satan and his ministers.

D. Visions

1. Intruding: “Intruding” is embateuo “to enter, investigate, search into, scrutinize minutely.”

a. These men were seeking and searching for mystic experiences, like visions.

b. This term implies that the false teachers were sticking their noses into the mystical realm… seeking something supernatural… not at all unlike the charismatics of today.

c. They abandon Christ and the objective Word and seek subjective feelings, experiences, visions, access to angels and the spirit world…

d. And it is exceedingly dangerous spiritually.

e. Very often it is an overreaction to churches that might hold to sound doctrine… but whose formality leaves them cold.

f. This is ever a challenge for us as a church:
• On the one hand to avoid cold, formal orthodoxy
• And on the other hand to avoid the other extreme: subjective emotionalism based on feelings and experiences.
• We need to maintain BALANCE in every area of the Christian life.

g. If we are going to intrude into areas… let’s intrude or search out… investigate more fully the infallible truth of Gods’ Word that we might come to know Christ in a deeper way!

h. Our emphasis should be on Christ who is the TRUTH… Christ and His Word…
• The charismatics say, “Doctrine divides, but our experience is uniting churches all over the country!”
• Of course, they are correct. Doctrine DOES divide: it separates truth from error—which is exactly what it is supposed to do!
• And they are right again—their emphasis on seeking after supernatural experiences like tongues and healing… interest in angels… IS uniting churches — evangelical churches… Catholic churches… dead liberal churches… they all have been having this new experience… some new thing.

2. Intruding into those things which he hath not seen…

a. Some texts read, “which he hath seen.”

b. The word “not” can really change the meaning of a sentence, but fortunately here it does not.

c. The point is that these were FALSE visions.

d. Whether the false teachers claimed to have seen a vision and did not… or actually DID see a vision that was Satanic in its source is not a significant difference.

e. They did NOT see a vision from the Lord… although they may have seen a counterfeit vision.

f. Remember, Satan is able to duplicate many visions and miracles… just as the magicians in Egypt were able to duplicate many of the miracles performed by Moses.

g. Jer. 22:32 – Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

h. The bottom line: GOD did not send these false teachers visions.

i. The fact that someone SAYS they saw a vision… or even if they DID see a vision, that does not mean it is from the Lord.

j. Remember, the revelation ENDED with the completed canon of the New Testament.

k. We don’t need to SEE anything to believe. Blessed are those who have NOT seen and yet believe.

l. We don’t need to HAVE a vision. And we should not believe someone who CLAIMS that he had a vision.

The Reason for the Beguiling


1. Paul exposes the SOURCE of their so called visions:

a. What they saw or claimed to see was VAIN (empty; useless; futile; no substance). Certainly a vision from God is not vain or empty.

b. Their visions and experiences arose from their PRIDE: they were puffed up… inflated ego… sinful pride.

c. Their visions arose from the FLESHLY MIND.
• This means the mind of the flesh… a mind controlled by fallen human nature.
• And in the flesh dwells NO good thing.
• They that are in the flesh cannot please God.

d. These false teachers were mystics who gloried in personal experiences rather than in Christ who is the Truth.

2. Paul exposes the most serious problem with this Gnostic-like mysticism.

a. Vs. 19 – They were clinging to visions, angels, and experiences… but they were NOT holding Christ the Head!

b. Their motivation and theories came from their own puffed up fleshly heads… and at the same time, they were NOT holding Christ, the True Head of the Body.

c. And without Christ, we can do NOTHING… of any value to God.

d. All is wood, hay, and stubble apart from Him… to be burned up at the Judgment Seat… and thus we have LOST our reward.

3. The tendency of such a one in all this to walk by sight (namely, what he haughtily prides himself on having seen), rather than by walking by faith in Christ, the unseen “Head”.

a. Exalting His Own Head (by seducing us into following his man-made traditions; opinions; views; convictions; rituals; etc.)

b. Not holding Christ the Head.

c. It doesn’t matter what the particular method is. That will vary from time to time. If it draws us away from Christ to ANYTHING else, the adversary has won the battle.
• Gnostic Mysticism stole attention from Christ and placed it on angels.
• Rome seeks to steal the attention from Christ and put it on Mary and the saints.
• Legalists seek to steal attention from Christ and put it on the Law.
• The charismatic movement seeks to steal the attention away from Christ and put it on the Holy Spirit… and a subjective experience. (John 16:14 – He (Holy Spirit) shall glorify Me.”
• Christian psychologists seek to steal attention from Christ and His Word and put it on the writings and studies of men… and on self.
• It doesn’t matter how HUMBLE they appear to be. It doesn’t matter what great visions they CLAIM to have seen. It doesn’t matter what kind of supernatural EXPERIENCE they are offering… if it is a distraction away from Christ… it’s not valid. It’s not worth the exchange.
• Remember, we are COMPLETE in Christ. We don’t need any of those extraneous, subjective, self-centered experiences or visions.
• We have all we need in Christ. HOLD on to the Head with all you’ve got and don’t let anyone beguile you from that place!


Back to top of page

Back to Chapter-2 Index

Back to Colossians Index

Back to Bible Studies