Colossians 2:4
I say this so that no one will deceive you by smooth rhetoric.
Sermons
All Riches of the Fall Assurance of UnderstandingN. Byfield.Colossians 2:1-4
Christian UnityW. Williams.Colossians 2:1-4
Earthly and Heavenly RichesColossians 2:1-4
Error is InsidiousDr. R. W. Hamilton.Colossians 2:1-4
Ministerial AnxietyG. Barlow.Colossians 2:1-4
Paul's Striving for the ColossiansA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 2:1-4
Satan's MethodC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 2:1-4
Soul ProsperityW. M. Punshon, LL. D.Colossians 2:1-4
St. Paul's ConflictJ. Daille.Colossians 2:1-4
The Boundless Wealth of Wisdom in ChristJ. Spence, D. D.Colossians 2:1-4
The Full Assurance of KnowledgeW. B. Pope, D. D.Colossians 2:1-4
The Full Assurance of UnderstandingJ. Hughes, D. D., J. Spence, D. D.Colossians 2:1-4
The Hidden Treasures of Wisdom in ChristG. Barlow.Colossians 2:1-4
The Treasures of Christ in Relation to EducationW. Archer Butler, M. A.Colossians 2:1-4
The Triple Fruit of Evangelical DoctrineBishop Davenant.Colossians 2:1-4
The True Safeguard Against ErrorA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 2:1-4
This I Say Lest Any Man Should Beguile YouJ. Daille.Colossians 2:1-4
Three Wonderful ThingsU. R. Thomas.Colossians 2:1-4
Introduction to the Polemical Part of the EpistleR. Finlayson Colossians 2:1-7
The Trinity as the Source of Christian Love and ConsolationR.M. Edgar Colossians 2:1-7
A Warning Against DeceiversT. Croskery. Colossians 2:4, 5
Blessed Christian PossibilitiesU.R. Thomas Colossians 2:4-7
Congratulations and CounselsE.S. Prout Colossians 2:4-7
This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech. It is necessary to say this which he has just said concerning the great "mystery of God," because there is danger of deception.

I. THE METHODS OF DECEPTION.

1. One method is to reason men into error, as the word here signifies. Gnosticism was essentially rationalistic in its method, gossamer like in its webs of speculation, and full of intellectual pride. The subtle seducer is often more dangerous than the persecutor.

2. Another is to use persuasiveness of speech in the application of this reasoning. They use "fair speeches and flattering words to deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:18). The arguments were false and sophistical, but they were made to appear true through arts of rhetoric.

II. HOW TO MEET SUCH ARTS OF DECEPTION.

1. It is the duty of ministers to warn their people against them. How often did the apostle say, "Be not deceived;" "Be not carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:14)! Ministers are thus to "take heed to the flock of God, over which the Holy Ghost hath made them bishops" (Acts 20:28).

2. We must "try the spirits" ourselves (1 John 4:1), and try them, above all things, by the standard of God's Word (Isaiah 8:20).

3. We must retain the knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ as the treasure house of all wisdom and knowledge. The knowledge of his excellency is a preservative against seducing spirits.

4. We must live under the constant power of the Word, which is "able to build us up." (Acts 20:32.)

5. We must walk purely in the fear of God. For "if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine" (John 7:17).

III. THE REASON FOR THIS WARNING AGAINST DECEPTION. "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." He was anxious lest such a solid fruit of orthodoxy should be broken down by the arts of plausible teachers.

1. True love rejoices in the work of grace wherever it is discerned. The apostle heard from Epaphras good tidings of Colossian faithfulness and firmness, and was glad, as Barnabas was glad at Antioch when he saw "the grace of God" (Acts 11:23). The Apostle John likewise says, "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth" (2 John 1:4). "A holy mind can rejoice in the good things of those he warneth and reproveth."

2. Order and steadfastness are signs of soundness in the faith. These words have military associations which may have been suggested by the presence of the Praetorian soldiers with the apostle (Philippians 1:13).

(1) Order marks the outward relation of Church fellowship. The Colossians did not break rank or "walk disorderly." We are to "walk by rule" (Galatians 6:16); "to guide our feet into the ways of peace" (Luke 1:79); and generally to "order our affairs with discretion" (Psalm 112:5). As God is "a God of order," we are to do all things "discreetly and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40).

(2) Steadfastness of faith marked their state as inwardly considered.

(a) This must always be our principle of resistance to the devil; "Whom resist, steadfast in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9).

(b) It is necessary to our success in prayer, for we are to pray "in faith, without wavering" (James 1:6).

(c) It is the means of our greater victory over, the world (1 John 5:4).

(d) It is, above all, our surest protection against errorists (Jude 1:3).

(e) It causes good men to rejoice. "Now we live if ye stand fast in the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 2:8). - T. C.







If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world.
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S DEATH WITH CHRIST.

1. To Paul the Cross of Christ was the altar on which the oblation had been offered which took away his sin, and because of that the law of his own life, and the power which assimilated him to his Lord.(1) We talk of an old man being dead to youthful follies and passions and ambitions, and we mean that they have ceased to interest him, that he is separated from, and insensible to them. So if we have got hold of Christ as our Saviour, that will deaden us to all which was our life.(2) Strong emotion, too, makes us insensible to things around. Many a man amid the excitement of the battlefield "receives, but recks not of the wound." Absorption of thought and interest leads to "absence of mind" when surroundings are entirely unfelt. Higher tastes drive out lower ones, as some great stream turned into a new channel will sweep it clear of mud. So if we arc joined to Christ He will fill our souls with strong emotions and interests which will deaden our sensitiveness to things around.

2. To what shall we die if we are Christians?

(1)To sin (Romans 6:11).

(2)To self (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).

(3)To the law (Romans 7:6).

(4)To the world (Galatians 6:14).Here it is to "the rudiments of the world" (ver. 8). Elementary precepts, fit for babes, moving in the region of the material. Why then, triumphantly asks Paul, do you subject yourselves to ordinances (ver. 4) such as "handle not, nor taste, nor touch," vehement reiterations of the ascetic teachers with an increasing intolerance — don't lay hold of, don't touch with the tip of your finger. So asceticism grows by indulgence. And, then, the whole thing is out of date, and a misapprehension of the genius of Christianity. Man's work in religion is ever to confine it to the surface. Christ's work is to focus it on the inner man of the heart, knowing that if that be right the visible will come right.

3. Paul goes on to show (ver. 22) that these meats and drinks, of which so much is said, are perishable. You cannot use them without using them up. Is it fitting for men who have died with Christ to this perishable world to make so much of its perishing things? But we may widen the thought so as to make it include sybaritic luxury as well as asceticism. Dives in his purple and the monk in his hair shirt, both make too much of "what they should put on." The one with his feasts and the other with his fasts, both think too much of what they shall eat and drink. The man who lives on high with his Lord puts all these things in their right place. There are things which do not perish with the using. All Christlike graces grow with exercise.

4. The final inconsistency between the Christian position and these practical errors is glanced at in "after the commandments of men," A quotation, used by our Lord, from Isaiah 29:13. It is not fitting for those in union with Christ to be under the authority of men. Here is the true democracy of the Christian society — "Ye were redeemed with a price; be not servants of men." We are bound to take our orders from one Master.

II. THE FAILURE OF THE FALSE TEACHING TO ATTAIN ITS END (ver. 23).

1. The apostle admits that it had a show of wisdom, and was very fascinating. It had the look —(1) Of devotion and zealous worship; but on closer examination it is the indulgence of the will and not surrender to God. They are not worshipping Him as He has appointed, and therefore not at all. Whether offered in a cathedral or a barn, in a cope or a fustian jacket, such service is not accepted.(2) Of humility. It looked very humble to say, We cannot suppose that such flesh-encompassed creatures can have fellowship with God; but it was a great deal more humble to take Him at His word and allow him to settle possibilities.(3) Of discipline. Any asceticism is a great deal more to men's taste than abandoning self. They will rather stick hooks in their backs than give up their sins or yield up their wills. Our poor human nature travesties Christ's solemn command to deny ourselves into doing something unpleasant to recommend ourselves to God.

2. The conclusive condemnation, however, lies in the fact that they "are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh" (see on ver. 18). This is one great end of all moral and spiritual discipline, and if practical regulations do not secure it they are worthless. By "flesh" is meant the entire unrenewed self which thinks, and feels, and wills apart from God. To indulge and satisfy it is to die, to slay and suppress it is to live. A man may be keeping the whole round of "ordinances" and seven devils may be in his heart. They distinctly tend to foster some of the "works of the flesh," such as self-righteousness and uncharitableness, and they as distinctly fail to subdue any of them. A man may stand on a pillar like Simon Stylites for years and be none the better. The world and the flesh are willing that Christianity should shrivel into a religion of prohibitions and ceremonials, because all manner of vices and meannesses may thrive and breed under them like scorpions under stones. There is only one thing that will put the collar on the neck of the animal within us, and that is the power of the indwelling Christ.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THE APPEAL —

1. Was to their position and profession as Christians. They had died with Christ, and, therefore, to that which was ful filled in His death.

2. Was based upon their Christian liberty. What had they to do with those things from which they were delivered by Christ's death — the mere material alphabet of religion? It was as ridiculous as if an educated man should go back to his spelling book; or a liberated slave fear his task master.

3. Described the character of the bondage of which they were in danger. "Touch not," etc., are not Paul's words, but the mottoes of the heretical teachers, and refer to distinctions in meats and drinks. True Christians ought to be far above the region of such carnal commandments, for to them all things are pure, and every creature of God good. Moreover, they perish in the using, and how then can they benefit the soul? (Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 8:8). And lastly they are based on human authority, whereas the Christian owes allegiance to none but Christ.

II. THE ARGUMENT.

1. The ordinances are pretentious. They have a show of wisdom.(1) In will worship, or some mode of worship God has not required.(2) In humility. But it is an affectation of lowliness which cannot look up directly to God in Christ, but thinks it necessary to find some subordinate mediators. Such prevails now.(3) In neglecting the body. The fleshly tabernacle may indeed be weakened without the slightest effect in conquering any sinful tendency in the soul.(4) How these rudiments of the world had a show of wisdom is not difficult to see. To go beyond the Divine requirement in self-denial, and do works of supererogation has the appearance of magnanimity.

2. These ordinances are really worthless.(1) Negatively — "Not in any honour" — they are of no spiritual efficacy.(2) Positively — they gratify the flesh, and prop up the fleshly mind with notions of its self righteousness and sufficiency. Lessons:

1. The vanity and error of asceticism.

2. The sacredness of Christian liberty.

(J. Spence, D. D.)

I. IS SIMPLY ELEMENTARY. "The rudiments of the world." It is in its nature transitory and imperfect. It conveys knowledge but in part; and when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part is done away.

II. IS UNWORTHY THE SUBMISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER. The believer is liberated from the slavery of the ceremonial.

III. IN ITS MAIN FEATURES IS UNIVERSALLY THE SAME.

1. It is the same in its dictatorial prohibitions. "Touch not," etc.

2. It is the same in its undue exaltation of the external and the transitory, "Which perish," etc.

3. It is the same in its human origin. "After the commandments and doctrines of men." The ceremonial in religion is an accumulation of the commandments and doctrines of men. Depending on human authority, it has no value in itself; and when it is made obligatory in order to salvation, it is an insult to Christ, and an intolerable servitude to man.

IV. CAN NEVER SATISFY THE MANY-SIDED WANTS OF HUMANITY.

1. It pretends to a wisdom it does not possess.(1) In self-imposed methods of worship. The enthusiast for the ceremonial argues that he who only does what God positively demands does only what is common; but he who goes beyond reaches a higher degree of saintliness.(2) In the affectation of a spurious humility. It is a pretence of wisdom to renounce all worldly splendour, and profess to live in poverty and seclusion.(3) In an unjustifiable indifference to bodily wants. The body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and is to be honoured, and all its just wants satisfied, in order that its best powers may be employed in the service of God. But the abuse of the body in starvation and neglect is a folly and a sin.

2. It is of no value in preventing the indulgence of the flesh. "Not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." The radical error of the ascetic lies in his belief that evil resides in matter. Not the body, but in the soul is the source of sin.

(G. Barlow.)

John Wesley, before his conversion, anxiously seeking rest for his soul, proposed to himself a solitary life in one of the Yorkshire dales. His wise mother interposed, admonishing him prophetically "that God had better work for him to do." He travelled some miles to consult "a serious man." "The Bible knows nothing of a solitary religion," says this good man, and Wesley turned about his face toward that great career which was to make his history a part of the history of his country and of the world.

(R. Stevens.)

Let me tell you again my old story of the eagle. For many months it pined and drooped in its cage, and seemed to have forgotten that it was of the lineage of the old plumed kings of the forest and the mountain; and its bright eye faded, and its strong wings drooped, and its kingly crest was bowed, and its plumes were torn and soiled amid the bars and dust of its prison-house. So, in pity of its forlorn life, we carried its cage out to the open air, and broke the iron wire and flung wide the lowly door; and slowly, falteringly, despondingly, it crept forth to the sultry air of that cloudy summer noon and looked listlessly about it. But just then, from a rift in an overhanging cloud, a golden sunbeam flashed upon the scene. And it was enough. Then it lifted its loyal crest, the dim eye blazed again, the soiled plumes unfolded and rustled, the strong wings moved themselves, with a rapturous cry it sprang heavenward. Higher, higher, in broader, braver circles it mounted toward the firmament, and we saw it no more as it rushed through the storm-clouds and soared to the sun. And would, O ye winged spirits! who dream and pine in this poor earthly bondage, that only one ray from the blessed Sun of Righteousness might fall on you this hour! for then would there be the flash of a glorious eye and a cry of rapture, and a sway of exulting wings, as another redeemed and risen spirit sprang heavenward unto God!

(C. Wadsworth, D. D.).

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