Summary: Paul warned the Colossians about the danger that they were in of being led astray to false doctrines. That warning is valid for today.
May 4, 2003 Colossians 2:1-5
“Struggling for strangers”
A little boy was lost inside a busy shopping mall. He was standing in the aisle of a department store just crying and crying, "I want my mommy.. I want my mommy." People who passed by felt sorry for him and many of them gave him nickels and dimes and quarters to try to cheer him up. Finally a salesperson from the floor walked up to the distraught little boy and said, "I know where your mommy is, son." The little boy looked up with his tear drenched eyes and said, "So do I....just keep quiet, I got a good thing going here!"
Question; Have you ever been fooled by someone? Has anyone ever deceived you? Has someone ever convinced you that something was real good and that you just had to have it... and when you got it -- you found out that you had been ripped off. Maybe you bought a used car -- and were convinced that you got a winner -- but soon after you drove it off the lot it became obvious that you had bought a lemon. Or maybe you have been deceived by a person, someone who sweet talked you, convinced you that they were on the up and up -- and that they really cared about you, but when your back was turned they hurt you and took advantage of you.
A deception is something that looks good on the outside and makes many great promises, but on the inside it is empty. It is like putting our money into a vending machine and pushing a button for a bag that, judging from the appearance, looks as though it is full of nice crunchy potato chips. But when the bag comes out and we open it... we find out that it is mostly full of empty air.
Don’t you hate to be fooled -- to be deceived -- to be taken advantage of? I guess the only thing that could be worse than being fooled ourselves, is to have someone we care about, a loved one, be taken advantage of by someone.... either financially, emotionally or spiritually.
Paul felt these same concerns about the Christians in Colosse. [2:1-5] To prevent them from being fooled, he begins to admonish them, to warn them about deceivers that were all around them offering teaching and practices that promised freedom but only delivered bondage. We come to this passage today in a religious environment that is not that different from the one of Paul’s day. The potential for us being fooled by all the lies that are out there is high. We need to be aware of the danger and learn how to face it. That will be our focus for the next several weeks.
1. We face a real danger. (2:4)
President Bush had to convince the American people that there was a real danger in Saddam Hussein. My job here is to convince you that there is real danger for you.
Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
The method that he uses is lies. Jesus called him the father of lies.
The best kind of lie is a half-truth. The Smith’s were proud of their family tradition. Their ancestors had come to America on the Mayflower. Their line had included Senators, Pastors, & Wall Street wizards. Now they decided to compile a family history, a legacy for the children. They hired a well-known author. Only one problem arose: how to handle that great-uncle George who was executed in the electric chair. But the author said not to worry, he could handle that section of history tactfully. When the book appeared, the family turned to the section on Uncle George. There, they read "George Smith occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important government institution, was attached to his position by the strongest of ties, & his death came as a real shock."
Satan used half-truths to get Eve to listen to him. He made disobeying God’s laws sound really good. He tried to do the same with Jesus (Matt. 4).
Some of you probably think that there is no way that you could be deceived. You have enough biblical knowledge or at least enough common sense to recognize lies when you hear them. I imagine that the followers of David Koresh probably thought the same thing. But he used “confusing and inflated promises of fellowship” and “manipulation through emotion and intimidation tactics” in order to get everyday American citizens to follow him. “Where did this so-called prophet lead his loyal followers? On April 19, 1993, (day fifty-one of the siege), the world watched in horror as the Branch Davidian compound burst into flames. Koresh and somewhere between seventy-five and eighty-five of his disciples died in the city-block-sized inferno.” Then there’s the people who were involved in “The 1997 mass suicide of thirty-nine Heaven’s Gate cult members - one of the worst in U.S. history. The group’s delusionary leader, just days before the mysterious self-imposed deaths, gave the final call: “Your only chance to survive is to leave with us.” Videos were recorded of members making a final statement. Then thirty-nine people put on new sneakers, packed flight bags, and poisoned themselves in the belief that a passing UFO [would] whisk them off to celestial bliss. Instead, the thirty-nine were found on their beds – dead.” - Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999), 190.