Colossians 2:4-10

Dr. Steve Viars October 15, 1994 Colossians 2:4-10

- this morning we'd like to study verses 4-10, and ask you to think
   about the question:
     "What Have You Done About Your Incompleteness?

- the Scripture makes it clear that because you and I were born in Adam,
   (as humans, inheriting a disposition to sin) that we are born in a sad
   state of incompleteness.

     - that could be sketched out different ways, but here are several
        ways in which this is true:

     1) Spiritually incomplete - totally out of fellowship with God.

          - sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:2), so we are born
             spiritually incomplete.

      2) Morally incomplete - we live outside of the will of God.

          - Rom. 3:23, etc.

          - it is impossible for a human to determine absolute right from
              wrong because we are unequipped to do so.
          - it is even harder to live "righteously" because of our
             propensity to sin.
               - so we are born morally incomplete.

      3) Mentally incomplete - we cannot know absolute truth.

           - in fact the Scripture says that the unsaved mind purposes
              suppresses what truth we do know (cf. Romans 1)

- we could go on sketching this out:
   - we could talk about "relational incompleteness"--the difficulty in
       getting along with others.

   - we could talk about "emotional incompleteness."

- point is -- Scripture makes it clear that you and I were born in a sad
    state of incompleteness.

- bottom line of the verses we are studying this morning is--you and I
   are faced with a question -- "what have you done about your

   - the reason that question is so important is because it is not just
      believers in Jesus Christ who would agree with these statements.

   - practically everyone would admit an emptiness, or an incompleteness,
      - that’s why all throughout history people men and women have
         wrestled with questions like:
             1) Who am I?
             2) Why am I here?
             3) Where am I going?
-- and many men and women stand ready to offer solutions to those
    - in many cases those solutions are:
          1) deceptive
          2) reductionistic
          3) damning

             - they are a replacement of the completeness that God
                intends men and women to find in the Lord Jesus Christ.

- read Col. 2:4-10

- we're going to divide our time into talking about:
   1) The danger of false teachers
   2) the methods of false teachers
   3) How to overcome false teachers

I. The Danger of False Teachers

    - Paul is very, very concerned that the Colossians have the right
       attitude toward this subject of false teaching.
    - there are at least three times that he specifically says that in
       this chapter:

    A. In Colossians 2

       - INPUT - what are the three places in chapter 2 that Paul
            specifically warns this church about false teachers?

             v. 4, 8, 18

       - the point is - Paul tells these dear believers "see to it" that
          no one leads them astray.

          - the word "see to it" is a present tense command and the idea
             is they are to constantly be on their guard because they
             recognize that the enemy is near.

          - Paul says to these folks--I want you to be very, very careful
             about this.
               - I want to be careful about it yourselves
               - I want you to be careful about it in your families
               - I want you to be careful about it in your church

          - we're not talking about being sinfully suspicious, or
             paranoid -- but we are talking about them having a constant
             sense of watchfulness.

- not only is this a theme in Col. 2, but we read this same kind of thing
   in many others Bible passages as well.

    B. In other passages

        INPUT - what other passages come to your mind that warn about
           false teachers?

           Matt. 7:15
           Matt. 16:6
           Acts 20:29-31
           Phil. 3:2
           II Peter 3:1
                (this list could go on and on)
- let's push this idea one step further:

    C. Characteristics of persons who recognize the danger?

        INPUT?  How did Paul want this information to affect the
           Colossians, and how would the Lord want it to affect us?  What
           will characterize a person who recognizes the danger of false

              (sharp thinking, "critical thinking", Acts 17, etc)

- In this passage, Paul explains some of the:

II. Methods of false Teachers

    A. They use philosophy and empty deceit

        - word philosophy is a compound word
            - phileo - love/fondness
            - sophos - knowledge/wisdom

            - philosophy is the love of knowledge/wisdom/understanding
               (especially when it comes to the most important
                 questions//issues of life)

        - so philosophy is the love and pursuit of wisdom.

        - by that definition, of course, philosophy is not inherantly bad
        - because everyone has a worldview, in some senses every person
           has a "philosophy of life" and is therefore a "philosopher."

        - the problem with philosophy is that most men and women try to
            arrive at ultimate truth apart from the God of Heaven.

            (from MacArthur - p. 96)

              - quote Francis Schaeffer
              - quote Os Guiness
              - quote David Hume
              - quote Nietsche

- trying to answer the questions of life apart from the God of heaven is
   a useless pursuit.
   - Man rightly concluded that he was incomplete (that he had questions
       for which he had no answers)
   - but he wrongly concluded that could answer those questions on his

- and as a result, the philosophical trial has taken many men and women
    to a hopeless and confused end

    - quote Jean-Paul Sartre.

- Francis Shaeffer pointed out that "Man's rebellion has driven him
    beneath the line of despair"
- Rom. 1:21-22 - They became futile in their speculations, and their
    foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they
    became fools."

    - "By eliminating God and His revelation from the picture, modern
       philosophy has plunged man into the abyss of ignorant darkness and
       hopeless despair." (MacArthur - p. 97)
- Paul says even to believers in Christ -- don't let anyone take ou
    captive with philosophy and empty deceit.

- he goes on to point out that another method of the false teachers is

    B. They rely on the tradition of men.

        - in other words, it's the old "if you say something long enough,
           eventually it will be accepted as fact."

        - cf. Maytag commercials

        - Paul says that you and I must beware of "ignorance and
           falsehood that is handed down from generation to generation."

        - we don't have time to develop this as much as I'd like, but
           that phrase is so true of the world in which we live.

           1) view of origins/evolution
           2) self love/self image
           3) place of the unconscious/ etc.

           - Paul says that false teachers rely on the tradition of men.

    C. They use elementary principles of the world.

        - there are a couple of different ways this phrase could be
            interpreted--but the bottom line is that Paul is taking a
             "jab" at the false teachers claim to "depth."

        - they wanted to be viewed as "deep"

        - the phrase "elementary principles" was also used to describe
           the alphabet in Paul's day.
        - it is very possible that He is bringing up the picture of
            returning to the first day of school.

           - the false teacher's best attempts at giving deep answers to
               life are shallow, superficial, and reductionistic.

           - the point is -- why would a believer, who has tasted of the
               heavenly riches of Christ -- want to find supposed answers
               from the shallow well of the world?

                - its like earning a doctorate and then going back to
                    kindergarten (MacArthur)

- can I ask you this morning - Do you and I need to hear what these
   verses of Scripture are saying?
     - there are few passages in all the Bible that give such a clear
         state of American Christianity.
     - if there has ever been a day to beware of the things listed in
          Col. 2:8, it is today.

- the good thing is that Paul tells us in these verses:

III. How To Protect Ourselves From False Teachers

A. Walk in Christ your Lord - v. 6

    - Paul gives us in these verses a model for dealing with false
       - he doesn't denounce the heresy by name.  (not that he would have
           been wrong in doing so--but that wasn't the emphasis)
       - he doesn't even detail all the tenets of the false system.

       - Charles Erdman - "...the apostle draws so eloquently upon the
           deity of Christ and the dignity and completeness of believers
           that the reader is left in some uncertainty as to the exact
           system of error against which the Colossians were to be on
           their guard."

     - this is very similar to the way bank tellers are taught to
         recognize counterfeit bills.
           - just study the real thing.

           - the more you know about the real thing, the more prepared
               you'll be to recognize a fraud.

        - it's interesting that in this context, Paul goes to the issue
            of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

              - but the rationale is obvious.
                 - if you and I are in the habit of submitting to
                    Christ's leadership in the way we conduct ourselves
                      - learning His Word
                      - growing in our love for Him and our love for
                      - disciplining ourselves to be more like Him

              - then when the false ways of handling life come up--we
                won't be tempted to follow them because they are so
                foreign to what it means to follow Christ.

    B. Continue to be built in Him - v. 6

        - Paul wanted the Colossians to be attempting to grow spiritual
        - cf. Psalm 1

        - instead of being a "spiritual tumbleweed" (DEVELOP)

    C. Understand and remember your completeness in Christ - v. 10

        - verse 10 is another of those great summary verses that goes
            along with the theme of this book.

        - it is in Christ that we are made spiritually complete
        - it is in Christ that we are made morally complete
        - it is in Christ that we are made mentally complete

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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