Summary: Don’t let anyone judge you by legalistic standards, disqualify you by mystical experiences, nor enslave you by ascetic practices, because Jesus is all you need. A warning of the false ideas of legalism, mysticism, & asceticism.

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Back in 2004, when several hurricanes hit the state of Florida, it left thousands of people without electrical power. Like many Floridians, Don Aycock’s neighbor used a portable generator to supply power until the electrical lines could be repaired. It had been running for a while when the man went outside to put gasoline in it. That’s when he discovered that his generator was gone!

Thieves had started another gasoline engine and left it running right beside the generator. They then took off with the generator, while the owner was lulled into a false sense of security created by the sound of his own riding lawnmower. (Don Aycock, Palatka, Florida;

I’m afraid that’s what’s happening to many Christians today. They are being lulled into a false sense of security by ideas that sound like the real thing, but are far from it.

In The Story of Christian Theology, theologian Roger Olson writes: “A popular misconception – perhaps a Christian urban legend – is that the United States Secret Service never shows bank tellers counterfeit money when teaching them to identify it. The agents, who do the training, so the legend goes, show bank tellers only examples of genuine money so that when the phony money appears… they will know it by its difference from the real thing.” The story is supposed to make the point that Christians should study only the truth and not concern themselves with examples of heresy or false teaching.

Well, it turns out that that story is absolutely not true. Roger Olson checked it with the Treasury Department’s Minneapolis Secret Service agent in charge of training bank tellers to identify counterfeit money, and that agent laughed when he heard the story. The agent confirmed that the Secret Service does indeed show examples of counterfeit money to bank tellers, so they can identify the fakes right away. (Roger Olson, The Story of Christian Theology, InterVarsity Press, 1999, pp. 20-21;

Well, that’s what I’d like to do this morning. I want to show you some examples of some popular ideas that look like the truth, but are as fake as a counterfeit $3 bill. They look and sound like super-spiritual Christianity, but they are absolutely worthless and often downright dangerous to our spiritual growth as believers in Christ.

In fact, these ideas have been around since the beginning of the church, and the Bible addresses them in the book of Colossians. So if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Colossians 2, Colossians 2, where the Bible itself warns us of three specific false ideas masquerading as true spirituality.

Colossians 2:16-17 Therefore [because you are complete in Christ] do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (NIV)

The Bible is very clear here.


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