Hollow and deceptive philosophy

Colossians 2:8-10 (NIV)
8 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.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Sometimes I wish the Enlightenment had never happened. For those of you who are not sure what that is, I’m talking about “a time in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source and legitimacy for authority.” (Thank you, Wikipedia.) The arguments we hear today against God all start with “Human reason tells us…” And arguments in favor of sliding scales of morality always start with “It is only human…” and “It is humane to care enough for others to allow them to do what they like which doesn’t harm you or others.” In essence, the argument always comes back to what humans feel and what humans can deduce about morality. Human philosophy and reason are the benchmark for pretty much every model of morality we see in the world today.

But why can’t we strive for MORE? Why can’t we have a model of morality that transcends mere human thought? After all, it is humankind who has distorted and abused the name of God for our own ends; it is not God leading us astray. It is human philosophy and politics and greed that have drawn us into wars and slavery and abuse on small and large scales, not any word that God has given us. And to say that God Himself is responsible for the suffering we inflict on ourselves – or, worse yet, ALLOW to be inflicted in the name of “tolerance” – is a gross distortion not only of fact but also of intent.

If we read God’s Word – the Holy Bible – we get the impression that God is far more about forgiveness and forbearance than about punishment and judgment. We see that God IS Love, and that the overall intent of all His work with us is to bring us back into close relationship with Him. Nonetheless, we allow ourselves to be taken captive “through hollow and deceptive philosophy.” (v.8) We refuse God’s standards because somewhere along the way someone told us that human reason can arrive at the same moral conclusions as we find in divine revelation. But, as we are seeing acted out so vividly today, God’s standards are far more stringent than human philosophies.

What makes this all the more heartbreaking is that Jesus embodied God’s standards, and He truly is the “fullness of the Deity… in bodily form.” We have been given this enormous gift of Jesus’ example, this great prize of Jesus’ Holy Spirit, this treasure of Jesus’ own words and “philosophy”, and yet we throw that all away whenever we cleave to human reason over Divine morality. We have been given the fullness of Christ, and we toss it away, or we pick and choose what we like, or we ignore what doesn’t match “human tradition and the basic principles of this world.”

Brothers and sisters, I implore you today to take a closer look at God’s standards and put aside human reason for a while. Reason should serve morality, not dictate it. As we can plainly see from history and today’s news, human reason on its own leads inevitably to immorality and pain. Jesus tried to tell us just that:


Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

We CAN find that narrow way by reading God’s Holy Word: the way is in Christ Jesus. Don’t ignore God’s teachings because they are hard or inconvenient. On the contrary, hold fast to His standards and be transformed by their very difficulty! And do not ever be ashamed to share that idea with others, for that is the heart of the gospel: God did a difficult thing in order to make it easier for us to do an impossible thing – to be washed clean of our sinfulness and be reconciled to God in holiness.

Heavenly Father, in all humility You came among us – Emmanuel – and You gave Your life that we might live in You. Thank You for this precious gift. Let me walk in Your ways, Lord God, and not in the ways of men. Your thoughts ARE higher, Your way IS better, so please help me hold to them my whole life. Amen.

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About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and husband to a beautiful wife and the father of four lovely kids. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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