Colossians 2:18

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, Colossians 2:18

Paul begins verse 18 in a manner similar to verse 16 – “So let no one judge you…” / “Let no one cheat you…” The two thoughts combine as stern warnings against troublemakers whose only intent is holding sway over others. The word “cheat” used by Paul is found only here in the New Testament. It refers to the act of discouraging or misleading believers by diverting them from their full potential in Christ. It is a word which would be used of a judge who makes a wrong call, and which in turn would deprive a person of their rightful prize.

Paul then explains how someone could so deprive a believer. He first says that it would be through “taking delight in false humility.” The word “false” is inserted here, but it gives the correct sense. Humility is thought of as a strong Christian trait, but false humility is something which is loathsome. The way that this false humility is made manifest is through “the worship of angels.” The two thoughts are tied together in a person who would claim that they were so humble as that they would never approach God directly, but would rather come through a mediator. Such false humility would then deprive the believer of their true right, which is to approach the throne of grace boldly (see Hebrews 4:16).

Because of Christ Jesus, we have full right to the throne of God, and we have full access to Him in our time of need. But those who would take delight in false humility would petition dead saints, Mary, or angels such as Michael or Gabriel, claiming that their prayers to such beings would be properly handled by them. It is the trap which Roman Catholicism teaches quite clearly, and those who follow in such teachings are deprived of their rightful use of God’s throne of grace. Jesus Christ is clearly shown to be greater than all angels in the book of Hebrews, and He is noted as the One and only Mediator between God and man in the book of 1 Timothy.

Paul continues to speak of such a person by saying that he is “intruding into those things which he has not seen.” The word “intruding” is another word unique to the New Testament. Paul’s use of it is probably referring to someone who claims to see heavenly visions, and then goes on to explain what their heavenly vision means. In turn, others will then be willing to follow them in their supposedly superior access to divine mysteries. This would cover countless supposed visions of the church age. The RCC is caught up in the visions of Fatima. The Seventh Day Adventists hold fast to the visions of Ellen G. White. The list of such people goes on and on.

They have, and continue to make to this day, claims of divine visions. Some claim to have been to heaven; some to hell; some have had angels stop by their office for coffee. Type in a search on You Tube, and a thousand false claims will come up. Charismatic churches make a million claims a year about divine dreams, visions, and prophesies. Countless books have been written about such things, and yet the Bible tells us that these things are false. All such claims are without merit. With the completion of Scripture, these things have passed away, and the Bible is our sole source of divine inspiration. The book is complete? What more could we use for our life’s doctrine and practice?

Paul warns that anyone who says they have had such a vision is “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” The idea of true humility is to make less of oneself. In essence, it is to shrink in size before another. But such a person is actually making himself larger. He is puffed up like a kernel of corn which pops from heat. The vanity of the person characterizes their false humility. It shows that they have been negatively affected in their minds. They are quacks who speak without any true substance. This is why Paul finishes by noting such a person’s “fleshly mind.” The flesh is that which is carnal, not spiritual. They claim that which is divine, but their claims are actually earthly and sensual. They are to be rejected.

Life application: No matter how true a claim sounds about a heavenly vision, an angelic vision, a trip to hell and back, or whatever else someone claims they have seen, it is always better to keep your money in your wallet, and to not listen to such a person. If their claim is true (which it is not) you haven’t lost anything by ignoring them. If their claim is not true, you have saved yourself from getting sucked in by someone the Bible has warned you about in the first place. Instead of watching their stupid hour-long video, try reading your Bible for an hour. Instead of buying and reading their book, try going to a decent Bible study. In the end, it all comes down to priorities. Don’t waste yours on such nonsense.

Lord God, we have Your word for our life’s doctrine and practice. Why would we need anything else to instruct us? Help us to stay away from people who make false claims about heavenly visions, meetings with angels, trips to hell and back, or any other extra-biblical stuff. Your word is complete, and it is all we need to know what You expect of us. May that be sufficient to us. Amen.

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