Where is Your Focus?

Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. " Colossians 2:8-10

As in other parts of Colossians, Paul begins this passage with a warning not to be taken in by other beliefs and traditions that are not of Christ. One of the key messages from Paul here is that we need to turn away from the beliefs of the world and turn to Christ.

The philosophies of this time were a mix of early Gnosticism, Greek philosophy, local mystery religions and Jewish mysticism. All of these presented great danger as any of it could easily sneak into their lives because it had a sound of great intelligence.

To get a bit more specific, here are a few of the beliefs the Paul was trying to warn of:

* Gnosticism taught that God could never be in direct contact with anything or anyone of this world. If this were true, God would not have created the world (Gnosticism taught that God worked through lesser spirits or angels to create the world), Jesus would never have walked this earth and we would have no personal relationship with God (Gnosticism taught that God deals with us through mediators/angelic beings).

* The Jewish influence emphasized dietary laws and specific days that must be observed.

* Both Gnosticism and the Jewish influence taught that traditions were very important, but Paul warned against the "tradition of men" and guided them the authority of the word of God.

* Both Gnosticism and the Jews also believed in "cause and effect". In other words, I did this bad thing so I deserve to have this other bad thing happen to me as punishment. Paul pointed out this behavior as being "grace-eliminating". God is a God full of grace and mercy not of "cause and effect".

As we follow God and His authority, we find there is no need for these philosophies and traditions. If we read verses 9 and 10 again, we see we are complete through our connection in Him. The gift Jesus gave to us on the cross takes care of everything. There is no need for anything else.

As I read thru the common beliefs held during the time Paul wrote to the Colossians, I was amazed at the similarities we see in our world today. We may not call them the same things, but they are there. How often do we hear people speak about "deserving what they get because of their behavior" or "if I'm a good person I'll go to heaven"? What about those beliefs that Jesus was just a prophet or a good person? Lines up a bit with believing the God could never have contact with this world, doesn't it? And, I could go on and on.

We encounter the same things today as the Colossians did so many years ago. The world has changed, but the same basic beliefs and principles still exist. We must still be careful today. It is just as important for us today to heed Paul's warnings as it was for the Colossians so many years ago.

4 Thoughts Shared:

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Melanie. My dad thinks that way, he often says, "if I am a basically good guy I should go to heaven." He bases it all on good works.
It really does apply to the world today! Good verse, very timely!

Kate said...

I think this applies so much to the church today as well. I have been to a number of churches that teach things along these lines. Not in regards to salvation, but in regards to sanctification.

Galatians 3

Kristi said...

Wonderful post, Melanie! I am always amazed to hear of people who believe they can earn their way into Heaven...Jesus is the only way!

I just remembered a joke my dad told recently from the pulpit: A man died and went to Heaven. St. Peter explained that they were now working on the points system and that the man needed 100 points to enter Heaven. His response to Peter was, "I have been married to the same woman for 65 years." Peter gave him 1.6 points for that. The man explained that he was a deacon and faithful member of their church for the last 50 years...this earned him 1/2 a point. Finally the man threw his hands up in disgust and said, "At this rate, the only way that I will ever get in is by the grace of God," to which Peter explained, "You finally got it! Welcome home!" It's only by God's grace and through His Son. Why does the world make it so complicated?

Debra said...


What a great truth you have spoken here today! I sometimes have to hold my eyes in place when I hear the same story "i'm a good person" so they won't roll out of my head! lol

Thanks for your prayers and love, my sister, oh how I have needed it!

Blessings and hugs back at ya!