“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)
As always context of scripture is critical. This passage was a warning from Paul to the church at Colosse regarding the philosophy and false religion of Gnosticism that was tearing at the heats and minds of the church. Much like Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden, the lies of Gnosticism were directed at the intellectual and physical/emotional desires of mankind’s mind and heart. The promises of uncommon, God-like knowledge and the unconstrained permission for even the most forbidden human sin is an attractive offer for even the purest of created beings. Adam and Eve, created for communion with God and initially without sin, could not resist the temptations of these desires.
Paul’s concern for this young church was enormous and exceeded only by the gravity and truth found in his warning he gives to them. It is clear, concise, and Christ centered.
BEWARE! The temptation is present and very real, Paul declares. It is not a possibility of a future deception…it is here and it is real. The “philosophy” of Satan’s schemes are deceitful and empty but they are ever-present and have been around since the creation of the world. They were present in the garden when Satan tempted Adam and Eve with physical and emotional “fruits” of deception. Christ himself was tempted by the same deceitful, God-separating philosophies that related to Christ’s physical “desires” and spiritual untruths. Guess what…Satan is still using the same bag of tricks. Sadly, we are not immune to those same schemes and temptations. So BEWARE! We need to be vigilant in standing prepared and to cling tenaciously to the truth of who Christ is and how desperately we need Him more than anything else this world has to offer.
Second, Paul declares in Christ alone we are made complete. All spiritual knowledge we seek and need, and all satisfaction for our physical desires are met in and through our Creator. Paul writes in verses 9-10 “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” We are complete in Christ for in Him we find everything we need in this life and in the life to come.
So let us live with the a keen awareness of the dangers that are ever present, but with the confident knowledge of who Christ truly is, who we are in Him, and live our life satiated in Christ alone.