It is fascinating in studying the book of Colossians to notice, that while some form of false teaching was threatening the church, Paul repeatedly stresses the preeminence and sufficiency of Jesus and His gospel. While some description is given concerning the nature of the error affecting the church, the exact problem never is completely spelled out. Its precise identity eludes us. However, by emphasizing Jesus and His gospel as Paul does, the church would have everything needed to combat error (Colossians 1:23; 2:6-7). One learns a couple of valuable lessons here – (1) an appropriate emphasis on the truth of Jesus and His gospel will do much to inoculate churches against false teaching; and, (2) false teaching and error, while always with us on earth, must never be allowed to to have a greater voice than Jesus and the truth.
Colossians 2:8-23 deals with a description of false teaching, but also shows how deficient it is in view of the greatness of Christ and the truth of the gospel (See especially Colossians 2:8 and 2:19).
- False Teaching often involves empty and deceptive philosophy (2:8).
- False Teaching often involves human tradition and is of the world (2:8).
- False Teaching often fails to properly stress both the deity and humanity of Christ (2:9-10).
- False Teaching often occurs regarding what God has done to save man (the meaning and necessity of the Cross), along with how man must respond in order to be saved (faith, repentance, and baptism). False Teaching often distorts how one gets “in Christ” (2:11-15).
- False Teaching often involves passing judgment on others (2:16).
- False Teaching often chases shadows and lacks substance (2:16).
- False Teaching often insists on having its way (2:18).
- False Teaching often is experience-based and driven by feelings (2:18).
- False Teaching tends to be arrogant and unreasonable (2:18).
- False Teaching often forces submission to man-made regulations (2:20).
- False Teaching often has the appearance of wisdom (2:23).
- False Teaching is self-made, often involves asceticism and is of no eternal value (2:23).
It has been well said, “the more you rub the truth, the more it shines.” Jesus and the gospel have nothing to fear from error. May God give us the wisdom to so lovingly apply Jesus and His will to our lives that religious error and false teaching do not impact our lives, the lives of those we love and the churches with whom we worship and work.-Mike Vestal