Summary: Colossians 2 explains that Philosophy, Ritualism, Mysticism, and Legalism are counterfeits of the real thing: Jesus Christ
Colossians Series # 2
Jesus the One and Only
Accept No Substitute
Scripture Reading: Colossians 2:2-8
INTRODUCTION: Last week we looked at Colossians chapter 1 where Paul talked about the Supremacy of Christ. In Chapter 2, Paul warns the Colossian church about some teachings that are actually Counterfeits for Christ. Now, how can you tell if something is counterfeit?
Look at the screen and see if you can spot the Counterfeit dollar bill. … Of course, counterfeits are not usually that easy to spot, but the principle is the same. You always compare the counterfeit with the REAL THING.
On the screen now you can see the corners of two 5 dollar bills. One is real and the other is counterfeit. Can you see any differences? The counterfeit is a good copy, but it is not as distinct in its lines. It’s faded where the genuine bill is sharply defined. The only way to know a counterfeit is to hold it up next to the real deal.
Paul wanted to warn the Colossians against Spiritual Counterfeits. So the first thing he did was to hold up the “real deal” … which is Jesus Christ. In Colossians chapter 1, Paul laid out 4 TRUTHS about Jesus.
JESUS is …
The Image of the invisible God
The Creator and Sustainer of everything
The Head of His Church
The Savior of all who believe
Then in chapter 2, Paul describes 4 COUNTERFEITS: Philosophy, Ritualism, Mysticism, and Legalism. Paul puts those Counterfeit next to Christ and says, “Look! Can’t you see the difference?!”
The Image of the invisible God Human Philosophy
The Creator and Sustainer of everything Ritualism
The Head of His Church Mysticism
The Savior of all who believe Legalism
1. Philosophy Colossians 2:8-9
In Paul’s day, the Romans were Philosophy Collectors. They liked to debate Greek, Pagan, and Religious philosophy. They loved to mix different philosophies together. To some intellectuals in the 1st century, Christianity was just one more Philosophy they could add to the mix.
It’s possible that some early Christians had that same attitude. That’s why Paul warned them: 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
The word translated “take captive” is the same terms used for a prisoner of war. Paul knew that godless Philosophy could do serious damage to these new Christians. Now, don’t misunderstand. The Apostle Paul was not anti-intellectual or anti-education. Paul was highly educated. He had studied the Philosophies of his day and could debate with the best of them.
Paul saw the LIMITS of human philosophy. The weakness of human philosophy is that is centers on human speculation. It can sound wise, but in practice it eventually leads to its followers into a moral, ethical, or pragmatic ditch.
Most of today’s Philosophy is based on a worldview that’s been labeled “postmodernism.” Postmodernism is hard to pin down. I found this definition in an Encyclopedia: Postmodern philosophy is an eclectic and elusive movement characterized by its criticism of modernism..
That didn’t help me much, but it was better than this explanation from a German philosopher named Martin Heidegger: He explained that in postmodernism … “It is in the naming that the things named come into their ‘thinging.’ By Thinging, they unfold the world, in which ‘things’ abide, and so are abiding ones.”
(hmmm) Well, I THINK that means: there’s no such thing as a thing. In other words, there is no such thing as reality --- my reality may not be your reality … and so on and so on.This may work in a classroom, but it doesn’t do much for us. It doesn’t make any sense in real life. I’ve heard it said that philosophy is always searching but never finding --- yet, ironically, getting a PHD for merely looking.
Well, I’m going to leave behind the College Philosophers and go to Mr. Rogers instead. Most of you probably know that Mr. Rogers was everyone’s favorite neighbor on the children’s T.V. show called Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He was also a Presbyterian Minister. Here’s how Mr. Rogers he summed up the problem with Philosophy. He said, “Life is simple and deep. What the world gives us is shallow and complicated.”
So we could ask, What is the alternative to human philosophy? The only real alternative has to be philosophy based on something higher than human understanding. And that is what we have in Jesus Christ! Jesus is the image of the invisible God. His teachings are not speculation. His words are Divine Revelation. Paul explained that in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Colossians 2:9:
Jesus knows the real meaning of life because he is both God and man. He alone is able to teach true Philosophy. Anything else is nothing more than Counterfeit.