Sermon Notes    October 16, 2016 FBCam
Avoid Becoming a Spiritual Casualty
Colossians 2:6-8

Ever since our children were little, we have taken several summer vacations to the Outer Banks.   One of the nostalgic things about this sea coast is that over the years, there have been MANY shipwrecks.  The waters off of the Outer Banks are often described as the Grave Yard of the Atlantic.

A shipwreck is a devastating situation.  It means peril for the ship and helplesness for those on board.  If you have ever traveled by sea you have likely considered what might happen if your ship were to be shipwrecked.

Paul is aware of a DANGER that will cause shipwreck.  He personally experienced a ship wreck and compared this disaster to the disaster of a failed Christian life. In 1 Timothy 1:19–20, we read By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,

In the Outer Banks, a series of lighthouses were built in the 1800’s every 17 miles along coast to warn sailors and save their lives and ships.

Here in Colossians, Paul gives the church a series of warnings about dangers that will ruin their Christian lives and testimonies.

The FOUR warnings are about Philosophy, Judgmentalism, Asceticism, and Mysticism.  Notice each warning:
PHILOSOPHY – Colossians 2:8 (ESV) — 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Here on stage I have four objects to illustrate these warnings.  Philosophy is illustrated by a TELEVISON.

JUDGMENTALISM.  Colossians 2:16–17 (ESV) — 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
I will use a DECK of CARDS to illustrate judgementalism.  I chose this because in my younger years, playing cards was among a list of things that Christians were told not to do.  This was a long and confusing list of banned behavior that many Christians used to feel good about their spirituality and to condemn those who failed to measure up to their standards.

ASCETICISM – Colossians 2:18 (ESV) — 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism
Asceticism is the denial of physical comfort in an effort to gain greater spiritual insight.  This was the practice of Monks in the early church and Middle ages, so I will use a box of oatmeal and a MONK’S ROBE to illustrate this point.

MYSTICISM – Colossians 2:18 (ESV) — 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind.
I have here on stage a DREAM CATCHER and CRYSTAL, both are popular items that reflect a desire on the part of some people to find a deeper spiritual meaning through mysticism.

Today – we will focus on PHILOSOPHY and save judgmentalism, asceticism and mysticism for a later time.

The Context of Colossians
IN Colossians 1:3-8, Paul is thankful for their faith in the Gospel
1:9-14. His prayer is that they might continue to grow in Christ.
From there, the text points us to the Supremacy of Christ in 1:15-20.

In 1:21-23, we read of the result of Christ’s power in your life… holy, without blemish, free from accusation.

In 1:24-2:5, Paul’s labor (and ours) is shown to proclaim the Gospel message

Thenn, in the progression of this Epistle, we come to the Central Warning: Don’t be taken captive in Colossians 2:8-9.

Now we are caught up with our text for today.  The next progression in this letter is a warning not to be carried away from the blessings and rewards given to us through Christ.

Taken Captive.
This is the only time this word is used in the NT. BUT the Colossians knew what it meant. It was a term used to describe slaves carry off as booty or as a captive The lexicon defines this word as “to take over complete control of a person as one would a captive” (Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 472.

There are ENEMIES who desire to take your mind captive.
Philippians 3:17–18 (ESV) — 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) — 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

To point to the evidence of this danger today, notice the research project  “The State of Theology” by Ligonier Ministry and Lifeway.  They asked professing Christians the following questions.  Notice that the results reflect that almost one half of Christians answer questions about the world with answers that are completely contradictory to the Bible.  Here are the questions:

“God accepts the worship of all religions including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”    46% of people who identified themselves as Evangelicals answered “agree” or “somewhat agree” to that statement.
“Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.”  Only 52% of Evangelical people who attend church once or twice per month agreed with this statement.
“Abortion is a sin.”  Only 48 % of Evangelicals who attend church once or twice per month agree with this statement.

25 years ago, a majority of people in the general population would have possessed a more biblical point of view than those who today identify themselves as Christians.

Christians today are being taken captive through the philosophy of the world.  It comes to us through the media, through education, through the philosophers of our day that come to us in music, entertainment, and through the pop culture.

There is a STRATEGY to take you captive.

The Greek work for PHILOSOPHY comes from 2 Greek Words
1.    Phileo – love
2.    Sophia – wisdom

Paul is not opposed to widsom, but realize that there are two Kinds of Wisdom:
First, there is Wisdom from God. Paul has already confirmed the importance of God’s wisdom.
Colossians 1:9 (ESV) — 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Colossians 1:28 (ESV) — 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Colossians 2:3 (ESV) — 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Then, there is Wisdom without God.  We call this worldly philosophy.  People seek the answer to The meaning and purpose of life, reflected in the following questions, which are the basic branches of philosophical study
Who am I? (Being)
Why am I here? (Purpose)
What is real? (Metaphysics)
What is true? (Epistomology)
What is beautiful (Aesthetics)
What is right? (Moraality)

Those WITHOUT God seek an answer that do not allow for God’s existence.  1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) — 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

John MacArthur, speaking of philosophers like Bertrand Russell, Thomas Hobbs and David Hume.  We could add names like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Brown and Stephen Hawking.  He writes, “so it goes with people who want to eliminate God and then in their own minds by their awn human effort attempt to discover truth. Now the city of Colossae had its philosophers. The city of Colossae had its Hobbs, its Humes, its other philosophers… as every society does. Famous ones and backyard ones. And the little assembly of believers — the church at Colossae — was in danger of being captured by them, of being infiltrated by them, of being duped by them” (John MacArthur, “Philosophy or Christ?”

Characteristics of Worldly Wisdom
The text here uses the word “Empty deceit”
Worldly wisdom offers the PROMISE of peace, happiness and prosperity, but it DELIVERS death and destruction

“According to human tradition”
Things passed down from one generation to another
“Basically, this teaching represented man’s attempts to arrive at the truth.”  Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, vol. 32, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), 253.

“According to the elemental spirits of the world”
Elemental spirits – Greek word originating from the Four Basic Elements (earth, fire, wind, water)
People who worship the CREATION Romans 1:25 (ESV) — 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

There is NO ROOM for GOD
“and not according to Christ”
There is no room
God is banned from the courtroom
God is banned from the classroom
God is banned from public discussion
There is no room for God in the minds of those who are without God

Why a television set to illustrate worldly philosophy?
In First Century Greek speaking world…. Sit in the market place.  Listen to philosophers.
In ATHENS: Areopagus
In central Greece, they came to Delphi to get a prophesy

And there were temples of worship in Colossae too.

In OUR WORLD – where do people gather?
SPORTING ARENAS.  I was shocked when I heard a commercial for the Phildelphia Eagles stating that Lincoln Financial Field is “where you go to worship.”  How true that is for many people today.  Sports has become a god and guides the lives of many.


We have drawn our views more from the world than we are willing to admit

Who is influencing you?
Have you been taken captive?
Are you aware of the spiritual battle?
Don’t become a spiritual casualty