WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – People have always developed religions – in every age, culture, and location. We’ve worshipped about everything and in about every way. While many of these ways seem outlandish, each “feels right” to those who made it up or adopted it. Paul calls this “self-made religion” (Col. 2:23).
Christians believe that they are not subject to this error, but we are wrong. Adding “Jesus” or other Christian words to a religion we have either invented or inherited doesn’t keep it from being self-made religion. Paul warned the Colossians about this danger even though they had “received Christ Jesus as Lord” (Col. 2:6):
“Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ. For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by him, who is the head over every ruler and authority” (Col. 2:8-10).
The religion you choose can be based on one of four things: philosophy, tradition, logic (the “elementary principles of the world” – NASB), or Christ. The Biblical Christian accepts only the latter and refuses to be ensnared by the first three. Every component of normal Christianity must be “according to Christ” (a literal translation of Colossians 2:8).
The obedient Christian has no right to hold his own philosophies, persuasions, or preferred ways of thinking unless they are according to Christ. “We take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Christianity must never be based on traditions, whether church, family, or personal. Jesus warned the most sincerely religious people of His day: “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men” (Mark 7:7-8). Our Lord instituted all the traditions He wanted in the Bible.
For Jesus’ church to remain His, it cannot be built on the latest theories of human behavior or religious organization. The simplicity of the church as a fellowship of Spirit-filled men and women centered on the person of the risen Jesus will never be improved upon. Every innovation through history has resulted in less of what He wants, not more.
When Paul says, “according to Christ,” he doesn’t mean just any of the numerous “Christs” one could conceive. Jesus warned “many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many” (Matt. 24: 5). Paul had already found many in the church already accepting “another Jesus, whom we did not preach” (2 Cor. 11:4). The apostle insisted: “There are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’ – yet for us there is one God, the Father … And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him” (1 Cor. 8:5-6).
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – I want to know and serve the one Lord Jesus Christ.
Soon after I gave my life to that Lord, I found that nothing but Scripture provided reliable information about Him or about how He wanted to be served. The more I devoured the Word of God, the more clearly I saw that the religion I had inherited was based on the Bible AND on the preferences, traditions, and ingenuity of people – a self-made religion.
Dear friends, I encourage you to believe that both Christ and His church are perfectly revealed in His written word and only there. Please join me in reading it often, believing it completely, living it fully, and being satisfied with that.