Looking for Something New?
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8
When I walk down the breakfast cereal aisle at the grocery store, I see numerous boxes of cereal emblazoned with the words new and improved. Many of us seem to continually look for something superior to what we’ve experienced—a better cereal, exercise regimen, church, job—maybe even a better spouse.
The false teachers in Colosse tried to convince the Colossians that adding new teaching to the gospel that Paul preached and Epaphras taught would accelerate their spiritual progress. In this section of Paul’s letter, he highlighted what truly helps us grow.
First, he commended the Colossians for their disciplined character and firm faith (v. 5). These signs of spiritual growth indicate steadfastness in our convictions—we are less vulnerable to former sins and mistakes, and we’re more likely to make choices that please God.
Second, Paul encouraged them to abide in Christ, to be “rooted and built up in him” (v. 7). Seeking new experiences, practices, and formulas for spiritual growth can distract us from focusing on the fundamentals of the faith. Jesus said, “Abide in me” if you want to grow spiritually and produce fruit (John 15: 4 NKJV). Cultivate intimacy with Him by spending time with Him daily in prayer and Bible study. Memorize and meditate on Scripture throughout the day. Jesus also said, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Concentrating on these basic commands will help us avoid many errors.
Third, we need to check our gratitude level. Thankfulness is one of the surest signs of spiritual growth. Paul said we should be “overflowing with thankfulness” (v. 7). What resides in my spirit and spills from my mouth during the day? Am I praising God for all His blessings, or am I complaining about what I lack and criticizing other people’s behavior?
The false teachers offered “fine-sounding arguments” and “hollow and deceptive philosophy” that promised accelerated spiritual growth (vv. 4, 8). But growth in godliness has one source: “namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (vv. 2-3). We must stay attached to the “true vine” (John 15:1); His truth must be our steady diet. That’s the sure, steady, and only successful way to become spiritually mature and fruitful.
Read Mark 9:33-50. What sort of situations distracted the disciples from focusing on what was truly important? What distracts you? What counsel did Jesus give the disciples?
According to Ephesians 4:14-16, 1 Peter 2:1-2, and 2 Peter 3:17-18, what helps us grow spiritually? What hinders our growth?
The Jewish rite of circumcision set Jews apart as God’s chosen people (Genesis 17:9-14). But God has always been more interested in circumcision of the heart. Compare Paul’s teaching in Romans 2:28-29 and Colossians 2:11-12 with Deuteronomy 10:14-21 and Jeremiah 4:4. Does your daily life reflect the “circumcision done by Christ” in your heart?
Denise K. Loock