Beware of Empty Philosophies: Col. 2:1-10
Over the last three weeks, we’ve established the importance and impact of Christ being preeminent in our lives. It is the preeminence of Christ that empowers us for ministry and rightly orients our lives. It is the preeminence of Christ that frees us to love (rather than judge) ourselves and others. It is the preeminence of Christ that gives us comfort in the midst of difficult, unexplainable circumstances. Of course, because of this, Satan wants to do everything he can to distract us from the preeminence of Christ. In Colossians 2, Paul addresses several ways Satan attempts to distract us from the preeminence of Christ, and he also provides us with the keys to combating these attacks. The first attack that Paul addresses is the use of empty philosophy.
We all have philosophies or paradigms through which we view our world. They shape how we interpret events, people, circumstances, and information, and they are formed by our experiences, our upbringing, our education, our nation, and our culture. Philosophies and paradigms are not in and of themselves bad things; in fact, they should be good and useful things. However, we must be cautious to evaluate all of our paradigms through the lens of God’s word. It is right and good for our faith to inform our philosophy and culture. It is dangerous for our philosophy and culture to inform our faith, especially when that philosophy and culture stands in opposition to God’s word. When our philosophy stands in opposition to the directives of the Bible or distracts us from the gospel, this is what Paul calls “empty deceit.” This philosophy is deceitful because it tells us something other than Christ should dictate our values and culture, and it is empty because anything that distracts us from Jesus leads to emptiness. So, how do we prevent such empty philosophy from infiltrating our thinking?
If you are not familiar, Jacksonville has a local branch of the Federal Reserve. Occasionally, they offer tours of the facility, and I was privileged to get to be a part of one such tour. As we were on the tour, I noticed they had twenty dollar bills taped to one of the windows. I soon discovered those were the counterfeit bills the inspectors had discovered so far that day. I also learned how these bills are still inspected by hand by trained inspectors. Interestingly, these inspectors are not trained in the marks and tells of the counterfeit bills. Instead, they spend hours upon hours becoming intimately familiar with the genuine bill. They become so familiar with the true bill that counterfeits become easy for them to spot.
The same practice holds true for us as followers of Christ. How do we prevent our faith from being infiltrated by empty deceit? We become so familiar and intimate with our Savior that the counterfeit becomes obvious to us. We are to walk in Christ, which is a Jewish idiom that essentially means knowing Christ is our profession or what we are known for. We are to be rooted in Christ, which harkens back to Christ’s illustration of us being branches sprouting from Him as the True Vine. And we are to be established in our faith—houses built upon the Rock, unshakable in the midst of the storm. When we abide in Christ this way, the Holy Spirit gains access to our hearts and minds, enabling Him to filter out all the influences of this world.
- What are some of the “empty deceits” of our culture? Have any of them infiltrated the Church? How so?
- What are some of the ways the philosophy of the world may have impacted your thinking personally? How can you evaluate and correct that thinking?
- How are you at abiding in Christ? Are you known by your faith? Is your faith something that impacts you on a daily basis, or is it something reserved for Sundays? How so? Since we can all grow in this area, what are some practical ways you can focus on growing your relationship with Christ?