“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.”
“intruding into those things”
The word “intruding” means primarily to step in or on. This is the only occurrence in the New Testament.
Metaphorically “intrude” means to frequent, dwell in (our passage). This word could mean to invade, to enter on. Because Colossians argues against Gnosticism, it probably means the entrance of the initiated into the mystery religions. The mystery religions used this word as a term of ecstasy. This person took a stand based on what he saw in the mysteries when he was initiated into the religion.
“which he has not seen”
This person invents his own religion, “which he has not seen.” He has a do-it-yourself-religion. He makes it up as he goes along.
If you claim to be God yourself, you do not have anyone above you to whom you can look for help; you can only look down on everybody else. That is the danger and the folly of this kind of thing. A modern proverb answers it well: “There are two things one should never forget:
1. There is only one God.
2. You “ain’t” Him!”
False teachers dwell on “vain” notions. The Gnostics entered into ecstatic experiences that had no basis in biblical revelation. Since the canon of Scripture (the list of books that belong in the Bible) has closed, there is no further need for more revelation from God.
This kind of person blames the Holy Spirit for his dreams and visions. This is common today. “The Lord told me this vision.” When? How? “I just had a feeling, a dream.” What are the chapter, book, and verse for this thinking? If it does not have scriptural support, it ought to be checked off as so much spiritual drivel. It is a spiritual hallucination.
God used visions before the Bible was completed (the canon) to communicate with the believer. Today visions are spurious, counterfeit, apocryphal, and unreliable. We cannot go based on our feelings because feelings fluctuate. We feel good at one moment and bad another time. The feelings of a Christian are no more reliable than the feelings of a non-Christian. Our fallen nature is susceptible to error, insidious, and wicked as it ever was. The only reliable standard, the only credible guide, is the Word of God. “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).
“vainly puffed up”
“Puffed up” means to blow up, inflate (from to blow with bellows). It is used in the New Testament metaphorically in the N.T. in the sense of inflated with pride (1 Cor. 4:6, 18, 19; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; Col. 2:18). Religion can inflate us with pride. Arrogant and haughty religion is vanity (cf. 1 Co 8:1)
“by his fleshly mind“
The sin capacity produces lust patterns. It is from these that sin originates.
The appearance of humility is often unadulterated pride.
Religious leaders love to advance their own notions about God because it gives them an edge on everyone else. This is spiritual pride, a love of advancing special notions. This puts them in a special place in the religious community. They loved to be thought of as wiser than other Christian leaders. Pride is at the foundation of many religious errors and biblical corruption. It is even the basis of many evil practices.