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Proclamation Index

Hollow and Deceptive

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

 

Colossians 2:6-8 (NIV)


The United States is a melting pot of various ethnic groups that hail from nearly every

corner of the globe. It is home to a wide variety of people... Diversity abounds. That includes

more than just ethnic diversity. That includes diversity of thought. With that comes a diversity of the way the world is viewed, and religion is practiced. Many of the views that rise out of this

diversity of thought stand in direct contradiction to the way that we view the world as followers of Christ. Worldviews are formed that are in stark contrast to the Christian worldview. It is imperative that we do not become confused or persuaded by these differing worldviews and that we stand firmly on the Word of God.

 

When Paul was writing to the church in Colossae, he was writing to address a very

specific problem. False teachers had infiltrated the church. Their teachings had

caused division and strife as well as confusion. Paul was writing to a church that had fallen into serious error because of false teachings and practices. It was for this reason that Paul wrote the Colossians with a very specific message: do not be captivated by hollow and deceptive philosophies. That is - philosophies that are based solely on human reason. Here, Paul is wrestling with the flawed ways in which people view the world. These philosophies or worldviews have no real substance, they are not grounded in ultimate truth and are leading God’s people astray. They are empty and meaningless. They will take you prisoner.

 

How then do we interact with such philosophies? What is the Christian’s role in this

interaction? I believe our ultimate task is to implement careful thinking in our pursuit of knowing the truth. The question that is often raised in a world that is filled with hollow and deceptive philosophies is: what is truth? Indeed, this was the very question Pilate asked as he was staring Truth in the face! How do we define truth? How can we know the truth? We must

understand that truth is not abstract. It is not a fluid idea that is subject to the whims and fancies of the individual. Simply put, truth is what is real... it is what accords with reality. Truth requires objectivity. When we apply careful thinking to our pursuit of this truth, it gives us the tools we need to separate what is true from what is false. "Real truth" is objectively grounded in God. Thus, we can know the truth because we can know God and He is truth.

 

Additionally, the objective truth with which we interact and daily engage requires a truth giver. In other words, truth is not a cosmic accident or product of blind evolutionary forces. Therefore, the truth giver must be separate from and above creation. Thus, that truth giver could only be God. We must make certain that the truths we seek and proclaim are grounded in the Truth Giver. The world today is home to many different religions, and there are many different versions of “God.” This is why we must apply careful thinking so that we can sort out what is true and what is not. If we are to be able to pick something true out of the crowd, we must know what truth is and where it comes from. We must not be taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies that are dependent on the traditions and thoughts of humans.

 

God is truth and we are and must continue to be dependent upon Him to reveal truth to His creation. Only He can break the chains that bind up those who are taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies. However, this does not exempt us from responsibility. Our

task is to know the truth because it is the truth that sets us free. (John 8:32) As we seek to share that truth (God) with those who hold other views of the world, we should steer clear of useless philosophies. We must seek, as the apostle Paul did, to point out flaws in thinking. We should seek to give a reason for the hope that we have and look for opportunities to validate the truth upon which our worldview has been built. We should see to it that we are not taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies and we are grounded in a truth that only comes from God.

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