SPOIL YOU THROUGH PHILOSOPHY AND VAIN DECEIT
By John C. Carpenter
The apostles Paul and Timotheus wrote the saints and faithful
brethren at Colossae, For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have
not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full
assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in
the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have
therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been
taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition
of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye
are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power (Col 2:1-10).
The apostle Paul was concerned about the believers
in the church at Colossae who, he knew, were being robbed of their faith and salvation by vain philosophies which were not only unfruitful,
but dangerous and destructive to the church. In verse 8 of our subject verses, the word spoil is translated from the Greek word sulagogeo,
which means to seduce, to lead away, to make open to, or to rob. The word philosophy is translated from the Greek word philosophia,
which means fond of or friend of wise things. The word vain is translated from the Greek word kenos, which means empty, without meaning
or purpose, or worthless. The word deceit is translated from the Greek word apate, which means to delude, cheat, or deceive. To be
spoiled through philosophy and vain deceit means to be seduced, lead astray, and robbed by someone or something which gives the appearance
of wisdom but is, in reality, without true meaning, purpose, or value.
THE PROBLEM IN THE COLOSSIAN CHURCH AT THE TIME OF CHRIST
believers in Colossae were unaware that they were not only being taught worldly heresy by men who think in worldly ways, but were
being led away from their Christian faith. In order to prevent the Colossian church from being misled, deceived, and eventually robbed
of its newfound faith, and its love of the heavenly Father, the apostle Paul knew that he needed to address and correct the problems
occurring in the believers in Colossae.
First of all, Paul knew and wrote that the church was being influenced by false teachers
who were essentially promoting and teaching a return to works righteousness, that is doing good things in order to receive righteousness
and salvation. Look what Paul said: Let no man therefore judge [call into question] you in meat [foods that you eat], or in drink [drinks
that you drink], or in respect of an holyday [festivals, Jewish religious feasts], or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which
are a shadow of things to come... (Col 2:16-17). The church was being taught by these false teachers what they should or should not
eat or drink, and even how they should behave on holy feasts days. The false teachers in the church at Colossae were coming up with
new rules and ordinances for church members to follow, new ways to behave, new ways to think and believe, ways contrary to the original
doctrines of the gospel of Christ taught by the apostle Paul and others.
Second, Paul warned the Colossian church that, because
of this false teaching, they were being unwittingly beguiled [robbed, defrauded, misled] by teachers who were being driven by carnal
and worldly mentalities, and not according to the teachings of the gospel. These teachers had also abandoned their fidelity to Christ,
if they ever had any at all.
Paul explained that these false teachers were intruding into those things which he hath not seen [understood],
vainly puffed up [swollen with pride, arrogance and rebellion] by his fleshly [carnal, fleshly, worldly] mind [thoughts and understanding]
(Col 2:18), and were not holding [retaining, continuing to hold on to, remaining faithful to] the Head [Christ], from which all the
body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God (Col 2:19). These false
teachers were teaching false and destructive doctrines because they had abandoned Christ as the only means of salvation, and, as Paul
said, the increase of God.
Third, in an effort to address and correct this false doctrine being taught within the Colossian church,
the apostle Paul posed this question to the saints in Colossae : Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments [elements,
principles, conformities] of the world [and its ways], why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not;
taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed
a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; [and] not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh (Col
Paul questioned the Colossian believers as to why they, when allegedly dead to behaving in worldly ways, would allow
themselves to be influenced by and subjected to these worldly, prideful, carnal ways, which appeared to be full of wisdom, but in
fact were robbing them of their salvation. Paul argued that these teachings were not Godly, spiritual and eternal, but were only ideas
thought, spoken and taught by men. Paul gave the Colossian believers a choice: they could continue to believe in righteousness and
salvation available only through faith in Christ, which they had been taught by Paul, or they could continue to listen to and follow
the false teachings and works righteousness of men. The choice was theirs. The Colossian church was basically confronted with the
choice of whether they should obey men, or God (Act 5:29).
THE PROBLEM IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF TODAY
Just like the Colossian
church, the modern day Christian church is being bombarded and greatly influenced by a carnal and worldly philosophy that is not only
anti-God, but may even stem from a spirit of antichrist. This philosophy could even be demonic. The philosophy I am referring to is
the philosophy of psychology, which includes counseling. Even though most Christians do not see it or understand it, psychology is
slowly becoming the new messiah. It is slowly becoming the one to go to in time of pain, crisis, and need. Psychology is what many
go to for needed deliverance. It is thought by most to have all the answers, which it does not. It is slowly and methodically replacing
God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as the source and sustainer of life.
I also believe many leaders within the
contemporary Christian church are allowing themselves, and therefore their flocks, to be seduced by the worldly, ever-expanding, and
highly destructive philosophies and influence of psychology and counseling. Church leaders are allowing this ever-increasing influence
in the church for, I believe, two reasons: (1) many leaders are naive, and do not see the real dangers of secular psychology and counseling,
and (2) many pastors and church leaders understand the dangers of psychology and counseling, but are frustrated by the limited help
they perceive to be provided by classic Christian counseling. These leaders feel that they must utilize another strategy, which unfortunately,
today, is psychology. Decades ago, I personally knew a psychologist who said he felt called into the ministry, but who, after seven
years of serving as a minister of the gospel, told me that he left the ministry because he thought he could help more people by becoming
a doctor of psychology; and so he did.
In my view, psychology has no place within the modern church, now or in the future. My
experience with psychology, which is extensive, revealed to me that psychology is full of leaven [hypocrisy] and deception. Referring
to how psychology is politically, socially, and professionally viewed within the community, I once heard a director of psychological
services say all that matters is the perception. Psychology willingly and intentionally promotes the idea that they alone have the
answers to the problems of life, when, in fact, those within the fields of psychology are, in my experience, as troubled as anyone
else, and, in many cases, even more so. Although they will tell you that their original motivation for going into psychology was to
help others, their own pathology is often the true reason why they went into psychology to begin with. Those within the fields of
psychology and counseling want to be perceived as having all the answers to the riddles, circumstances, and problems of life. This
perception not only strokes their ego, but fills their pocketbook. The want to be gods. Because of their very bright minds and quick
tongues [which almost all seem to have], those within psychology appear, on the surface, to have many answers for our questions and
needs, but in reality, they do not.
Peter's words of warning about false teachers within the church could also apply to those
who promote and practice psychology within the church: These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom
the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the
flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves
are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage (2 Peter 2:17-19). The wells of
psychology have no life-giving or life-sustaining water. Their deceitful, vain, and self-serving words sound appealing to us because
of our own lusts. Paul likewise advised the church in Corinth, I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech
or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him
crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing
words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but
in the power of God (1 Cor 2:1-5). Paul added that worldly wisdom accomplishes nothing when he wrote, Howbeit we [apostles and disciples]speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the [psychological] princes [chief, ruler, i.e.,
those who appear to be powerful and influential] of this world, that come to nought [destructive, useless, vain] (1 Cor 2:6).
makes it abundantly clear that He alone is the source of life, and that thieves, despite how wise or powerful they may seem or claim,
should not be heeded or followed: Those who enter the sheepfold without the calling of and faith in Christ should be rejected. Look
what Jesus said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way,
the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and
the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he
goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him:
for they know not the voice of strangers (John 10:1-5). The apostle Peter knew that life was not available through anyone other than
Christ. When some disciples of Christ refused to follow Him any longer (John 6:66), Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also
go away? (John 6:67), then Simon Peter responded, Lord, to whom [what man of this world] shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal
life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6:68-69).
The carnal, fleshly, worldly
philosophies found in psychology have no legitimate place in the church. As Paul warned believers in Rome, For they that are after
the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded
is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to
the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:5-8). As He was with the Colossian
church, God the Father is disappointed with the infiltration of the worldly so-called wisdom of psychology within the modern church.
As God reminds us, the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise [of this world] in their
own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all
things are yours (1 Cor 3:19-21).
Even when we have mental and emotional needs, and we all eventually do, the apostle John personally
reminds us, Love not the world [and its ways], neither the things that are in the world [including its philosophies]. If any man love
the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and
the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:15-16).
Conversely, regarding worldly philosophies, such
as psychology, we must remember, with some compassion, that those of the world who pretend, or appear, to have the answers of life,
cannot and will not understand or accept the ways of God. As Paul explained, the natural [worldly, carnal] man receiveth not the things
of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he
that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor 2:14-15). The things of God and His kingdom are hid [by
God] from the wise [those who have worldly and fleshly knowledge and wisdom] and prudent [appear to have answers], and hast revealed
them unto babes [infant, i.e., humble, submissive] (Mat 11:25).
Many speak well of psychology and counselors, but this does not
make psychology legitimate, nor beneficial. In fact, within the church, just the opposite. Look at the words of Christ: Woe unto you,
when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets (Luke 6:26). Being spoken well of by the masses
does not ensure that his or her fruit will be good. The leaders, as well as the members, of the church should be examining the fruit
of psychology and counseling. Christ warns, Beware of false prophets [and psychologists], which come to you in sheep's clothing [appear
and behave like you], but inwardly they are ravening wolves [and interested in only feeding their own appetites]. Ye shall know them
by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt
tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every
tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Mat 7:15-20).
Paul warned about religious false teachers within the church. Paul's concern for the Corinthian church is equally applicable to psychologists
and secular counselors in the modern church when Paul refers to them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found
even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming [through deceit] themselves into [what appears to be] the
apostles [true supporters and allies] of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore
it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their
works (2 Cor 11:12-15). As Christ described the Pharisees, psychology and psychological counseling are nothing but whited sepulchres,
which indeed appear beautiful outward [and appear to have the answers to life], but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all
uncleanness (Mat 23:27). Regarding the existence and influence of carnal and worldly false teachings [including psychology] within
the church, Christ summarized, He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad (Mat 12:30).
Believe me, psychology is not with Christ.
Christ also warns of the dangers of false individuals who seek importance, honor,
and power within the church. Like the Pharisees of old, the so-called behavioral wizards of psychology also love the uppermost [preeminent] rooms
at feasts, and the chief seats [of importance and glory] in the synagogues [and churches], And [be responded to with submissive and
honorable] greetings in the markets, and to be called [and glorified] of men, Rabbi [or Doctor], (Mat 23:6-7). In the book of Luke,
Christ similarly warns, Beware of the scribes [those who want to be important in the church], which desire to walk in long robes [and
be glorified for who they are], and love [humble and submissive] greetings in the markets [public areas], and the highest [most important] seats
in the synagogues [and within the church], and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows' houses [and take advantage of their
influence and power over others], and for a shew make long prayers [or use big words or ideas in counseling sessions]: the same shall
receive greater damnation (Luke 20:46-47).
The modern day Christian church has allowed an ever-growing presence, influence, and
control by psychology simply because the church, for the most part, does not know and understand the holy scriptures. Christ warned
the Sadducees of the early Jewish church that the error in their thinking was due to their ignorance of the scriptures: Jesus answered
and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing [or understanding] the scriptures, nor the power of God (Mat 22:29). Error and damnation
are often the flip sides of the same coin. Additionally, although psychology certainly does not enter the church through the only
door to the church, which is Christ and faith in Him, it has been welcomed within the church with open arms, willing hearts, and smiling
faces. However, the Lord warns, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth
up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the
porter openeth; and the sheep hear his [Christ's] voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth
forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow,
but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers (John 10:1-5). Some members of the church, including leaders, are
naively and mistakenly following the voice of the stranger of psychology, and will suffer the fruit of doing such.
warned the Colossian believers not to be deceived by clever men speaking clever words. He explained that in God and Christ are hid
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words (Col 2:3-4).
some in the church, Paul warned Timothy, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts
shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned
unto fables (2 Tim 4:3-4). The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to
seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (1Tim 4:1). That time has arrived.
THE SOLUTION FOR THE COLOSSIAN CHURCH AND THE CHURCH
In addressing his concerns over the worldly philosophies being taught the believers in Colossae, the apostle Paul, in
his letter to the church in Colossae, gave the church members several specific instructions. These instructions are also pertinent
and applicable to the modern day church of believers in Christ.
First of all, Paul wanted the Colossian church to be filled with
the knowledge of God, walk in those ways that please the Lord, be fruitful in every good work, be strengthened with the power of God
resulting in patience, long suffering, and joy, and lastly, to give thanks to God the Father. Paul wrote, For this cause we also,
since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all
wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and
increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering
with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light(Col 1:12).
Second, Paul and Timotheus wrote the Colossian church, For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not
cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto
the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light [revelation, understanding] (Col 1:9-12).
Paul prayed extensively for the Colossian church. He desired that the church would be filled with the knowledge of God's will, that
they would walk in ways pleasing to the Lord, that they would be fruitful in every good work, that they would increase in the knowledge
of God, be strengthened in their faith, and that they would give thanks to God who has allowed them to understand and receive the
inheritance of the Kingdom and eternal life.
Third, the apostle confessed that, because he knew they were being deceived and
influenced by the enticing words of false teachers, he felt great conflict for them, and sincerely hoped that they would be comforted,
knit together in love, and fully understand the mysteries of God the Father and Christ: For I would that ye knew what great conflict
I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted,
being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of
God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should
beguile you with enticing words (Col 2:1-4).
Fourth, Paul instructed them with these words of warning: you [believers in Colossae],
that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through
death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be
not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof
I Paul am made a minister (Col 1:21-23). Paul also encouraged the church to continue in the faith of Christ. Paul explained, because
they had been reconciled to God by the death of Christ, that they should not return to wicked works, nor allow themselves to be moved
away from the hope of the gospel of Christ, which they had already heard. They were to continue in the faith of Christ, grounded [continue
with the foundation or basis of their faith, that is, faith in Christ] and settled [immovable, steadfast].
Fifth, the apostle
wanted the Colossian believers to focus on spiritual and eternal things, rather than earthly and temporal things. Paul specifically
encouraged the Colossian church, If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right
hand of God. Set your affection [mind, sentiments, inclined] on things above, not on things on the earth [worldly, according to worldly
understanding and ways]. For ye are dead [unresponsive to having worldly thoughts and living in worldly ways], and your life is hid [concealed,
hidden, ignored] with [yet made apparent in] Christ in God (Col 3:1-3). Paul wanted the believers in the church in Colossae to discontinue
living in carnal, worldly, temporal ways, and seek the things which are above, that is, things that are spiritual, Godly, and eternal.
not wanting the Colossians to encounter the wrath of God, Paul instructed the Colossians to Mortify therefore your members which are
upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which
things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience (Col 3:5-6).
Seventh, in addition to subduing the sin that
was in their lives, the apostle also instructed the believers in Colossae to also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy,
filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put
on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col 3:8-10).
Eighth, and last, Paul added
these additional behavioral instructions to the church: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies,
kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel
against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ
dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace
in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the
Father by him (Col 3:12-17).
People will have psychiatric needs from time to time. There is no doubt about that. However, those
individuals with needs should be referred to professional psychiatrists [not psychologists] who have specialized training and beneficial
medications at their disposal. Psychiatric needs should not, in my view, be addressed by the church or clergy. When the church attempts
to meet psychiatric needs of individuals, it is unwittingly mixing the holy with the unholy. As the scriptures instruct, Be ye not
unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light
with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath
the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and
I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch
not the unclean thing; and I will receive you (2 Cor 6:14-17).
The great apostle Paul sternly warns us to Beware lest any manspoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him. Paul uses the word beware because he wants
us to perceive, regard, see, take heed, and therefore avoid any and every man who, through the use of human and worldly philosophical
wisdom, would seduce, deceive, and rob us of our faith and salvation. Worldly philosophy is to be avoided, for as Paul summarizes,
Christ is God in bodily form, and we are made replete, magnified, filled up, satisfied, and perfected by Christ alone. Paul concludes
with these inspiring and encouraging words: As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built
up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving (Col 2:6-7). AMEN.