“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.”
We now come to a significant transition in the book of Colossians. After setting forth what the Christian needs to combat evil forces against them, he now turns to a polemic against the enemy, which threatened the church at Colosse.
“Beware lest anyone cheat you”
“Beware”–be on guard against an attack. The Devil’s booby-traps are everywhere. He has doctrinal land mines in places where we would not suspect.
The word “cheat” means to carry off as a spoil of war, lead captive. False teachers can carry the Colossians off as so much booty. Satan is about to carry them off as a captive in a spiritual war to false philosophy and theology. This philosophy was about to take complete control (captive) of the Colossians by human wisdom (philosophy). False teachers in Colosse wanted to kidnap the Colossian believers from the truth. Our colloquialisms for this are “Don’t get conned,” “Don’t get sucked in,” “Don’t let someone sell you a bill of goods.”
The devil seeks to maneuver the believer into a predicament where God will not bless his life. He will try to suck us into some deal or proposition. If he can neutralize us by false teaching, we will be of no good to God. An inert Christian is a trophy for the devil. The devil wants to maneuver us into a demilitarized zone where there is no fight for biblical truth. There we do not fight the enemy; neither do we fight for God. He does not always lure us into gross sin. If he can paralyze the power of the Christian life by living an indifferent life, he wins.
The Devil takes prisoners of Christians regularly.
Satan’s strategy is to so stymie, so handicap the believer that they will never amount to anything for God. The only way to keep from being captured by the devil is to use God’s system of warfare. If we operate by using the promises of God, we will become a walking defense perimeter.
Many Christians try to sustain their Christian lives through external mechanisms. If they go to church or are faithful to their small group, they feel this will protect them from the Devil taking them captive. That is an illusion. No life of incubation will protect the Christian from evil. There is no way to protect ourselves from temptation without inculcation of biblical truth. A young couple coming home from a date in a car must carry in their souls God’s viewpoint and the willingness to apply that viewpoint to their lives. Their line of defense comes from within.
God sustains the Christian life from within. Paul was in Rome during the writing of Colossians. He did not hold the hands of the Colossians. Paul cut their apron string of dependence upon his person. Since he was not in Colosse personally, they needed to apply the promises of God for themselves. The first line of defense against any assault upon the Christian life is fellowship with God through the Word of God. If we do not use the “sword of the Spirit” (the Word of God), we will become a spiritual casualty in the war against Satan.
Are you spiritually self sustaining? We cannot live our spiritual lives in an incubator; therefore, we need the power of God’s Word to face temptation.