“Beware Lest Anyone Cheat You...”
(Colossians 2:8-15)

Introduction. We all have questions: Why am I here? What is life all about? Does anyone care about me? What happens when we die? Is there a God? How can I find happiness and meaning in life?
     In life, people either look to themselves to answer these questions; look to others (who have no better insight into these questions than we do) or we look to God. Paul, in these verses is making the case and we will try this morning to make the case that, the only true source to answer the questions of life in Jesus Christ. Paul will tell us that this is true because of two reasons: 1. Who Jesus is; 2. Because of what He can do for us.

I. “Beware lest anyone cheat you” (vs. 8a). It is possible to be cheated out of what God has for us (and the answers He would give us) by looking in the wrong places for answers.

  1. “Through philosophy and empty deceit” (vs. 8b). The word “philosophy” literally means “love of wisdom.” It is a good thing to love wisdom. The problem comes when we love wisdom from the wrong source.
    1. Wisdom from God recognizes the awesome nature of God. (Job 28:20-28). Note: We can look everywhere and miss it if we don't start with God.
    2. Earthly wisdom is often “empty deceit.” (KJV & ASV “vain” meaningless, worthless. Note: two sources that can let us be “cheated” out of the true answers.
  2. “According to the tradition of men” (vs. 8c). Looking to what man does and says for answers is fine if it concerns things man has power over. Example: MAC OS 10 or Windows XP Bible won't tell us how they operate Manual written by men will.
         Looking to man for answers in areas out of his control is “meaningless deception.” Example: You will find books on all of the questions we posed at the beginning. If they look to the Bible as their source they may have some value. If they look to men as their source the best they can offer is a view of someone else's questioning. If they presume to answer questions outside of man's authoritythey are deception. II Thessalonians 2:10 we can only be spared from “unrighteous deception”by having a love for the truth.
  3. “According to the basic principles of the world” (vs. 8d). Looking to what the world seems to offer. Many try to find wholly naturalistic views explanations about the origins of the universe. Trying to explain the origins of the universe by what can be seen is like trying to write a biography of Alexander Graham Bell by looking at a telephone. What is the problem?
    • Telephones are different than when first created.
    • Observing how something functions doesn't answer all the questions about how it was put together.

         Looking to the “basic principles of the world”will not answer the questions we need answered about life. Because, we can't look at the universe and from it determine: Why am I here? What is life all about? Does anyone care about me? What happens when we die? Is there a God? How can I find happiness and meaning in life? What can we learn from it? (Romans 1:18-20). What “may be known”about God (apart from revelation) is demonstrated in “what has been made.” What does this reveal? “His invisible attributes” What are they? “His eternal power” (i.e. the Power great enough to begin the universe had to precede a beginning, thus “eternal”) and “godhead” (i.e. such force is not impersonal but an intelligent deity God!).
         That's all you can know. But even that alone will cheat you if it is
  4. “And not according to Christ.” (vs. 8e). Looking anywhere that does not look to Christ will cheat us of what God has for us. Why? Because of who He is and because of what He can do for us. Who is He?

II. “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (vs. 9). Jesus is God. Why is it such a big deal for religious groups to come along and say “We like Jesus he is a good teacher - a good prophet - a good man - a wise leader but not God!” It is a big deal because it nullifies everything that He has to offer if He is not everything which the Bible presents Him to be.

  1. He made us. (Hebrews 1:1-4). Note: He is our creator, so
  2. He knows how we function. Only if this is true can He be a source for answers that are outside of our authority. Only then can we do for us what we truly need. What can He do for us?

III. “And you are complete in Him” (vs. 10a). “Complete”in Gr. pleroo meaning “to make full, to fill up” (Thayer). A number of years ago there was a line in a popular movie where the leading man was trying to win the leading lady and told her passionately “you complete me!”That's a moving sentiment. That is a touching claim. All of us have something missing in us. But it can't be filled up by things or people or by accomplishments. It can only be filled by Jesus! Why? Paul tells us something more about who Jesus is

  1. “Who is the head of all principality and power” (vs. 10b). The “head” of (NASB) “rule & authority.” If Jesus is head over every dominion and every power He can offer solutions to those things over which we are powerless. Illustration. Death. We live in an age where we can count DNA sequences, calculate the distance to stars, split and atom, create microprocessors that can hold entire libraries in the palm of our hand--but we can do nothing to “undo” death! (Hebrews 2:14-15) Who should I listen to when it comes to questions about death? Jesus!
         How does he make one “complete”? He illustrates this by considering what has happened to the Christian
  2. “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands” (vs. 11a). Circumcision was that covenant God made with Abraham and his descendents that involved cutting off the foreskin (Genesis 17:10). It was done with hands. Paul speaks here of a change that happens that effects man on the inside.
    1. “By putting off the body of the sins of the flesh” (vs. 11b). There is a means which God offers that doesn't cut of the foreskin of the flesh, but “puts off” the sins of the flesh. It is here called
    2. “By the circumcision of Christ” (vs. 11c). He explains further
    3. “Buried with Him in baptism” (vs. 12a). Is this teaching that baptism is the “circumcision of Christ”? It is either speaking of baptism as the circumcision or the whole process of conversion as the circumcision. What is clear is that baptism is considered a part of this circumcision. (Acts 22:16).
      Note: Someone might say “Baptism is done with hands!” Yes, but what God does for us in baptism, is not done by our hands but by what God does to us when we put our faith in Christ and obey His command. (I Peter 3:21). “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (NASB).
    4. “In which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God” (vs. 12b). In baptism a person is buried with Christ and raised with Christ.
    5. “Who raised Him from the dead” (vs. 12c). The resurrection of Christ is the sign of Christ's victory over death. Our faith in what God did for us in Christ binds us to the hope which we have for our own resurrection and salvation. Why was such a spiritual resurrection necessary? Because in sin we were spiritually dead.
  3. “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh” (vs. 13a). The soul who sins is separated from God. The soul who is made complete in Christ
    1. “He has made alive together with Him” (vs. 13b). The Christians is born anew.
    2. “Having forgiven you all trespasses” (vs. 13c). Unless our sins are forgiven, we are still dead. Consider a parallel passage: (Ephesians 2:1-8). Sometimes we can be very “narrow-minded” in our reading of Scripture. I don't mean by that that we are too strict when the Bible teaches us to be strict, I mean we look at one passage and think that that text says everything that God wants us to know about a subject. In Ephesians 2 - nothing is said about baptism. In Colossians 2 - nothing is said about grace! Isn't the wise conclusion to recognize that both grace and baptism are involved in allowing the forgiveness of trespasses?
    3. “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us” (vs. 14a). The debt of sin that is brought on by law without forgiveness is “contrary” to man. It teaches what is for our goodbut the spiritual death it brings to the one who violates it is “contrary” to us.
    4. “And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (vs. 14b). What we owed he paid. (Hebrews 10:1-4). The Law of Moses had a system of sacrifices, but it was ongoing. You needed it again and again--because sin came into one's life again and again.
           Jesus offered Himself. (Hebrews 9:11-14). The contrary aspect of the law and the debt of sin it tallied up was nailed to the cross with Jesus. The soul who refuses to accept Jesus bears their own sin and remains spiritually dead because of it.
    5. “Having disarmed principalities and powers” (vs. 15a). The power of death was disarmedthe power of sin was disarmedthe power of Satan was disarmed.
    6. “He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (vs. 15b). (Ephesians 4:8) - “He led captivity captive.” In His death Jesus showed how meaningless and futile Satan, sin and death are in the face of Christ's love. His deathHis cross made these powers and authorities ineffective. He defeated them in the cross.