A MEANS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
The apostle Paul had "a great conflict" for the churches at Colosse and nearby Laodicea, even though he was not the founder of those assemblies. The vast majority of believers in those cities had never met him. Undoubtedly he longed to see them, especially since false teachers had entered their fellowship. The word "conflict" is the word from which we get the word "agony." Paul agonized over the brethren. He strongly desired "that their hearts may be encouraged." Encouragement! It's needed in the church today.
EXPRESSED IN BEING
Being speaks of what you are. Hearts are encouraged when they are "being knit together in love." Those who are knit together are one in the Spirit. They keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, loving each other.
Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34, 35. The greatest expression of true Christianity is love for the Lord, and love for each other. There is nothing greater than love. 1 Corinthians 13:13.
How did Jesus Christ demonstrate His love? He wants us to love each other the same way that He loved us. Five words tell the story: "Christ died for our sins." If you ever question or doubt God's love, just remember Calvary. There is no greater love than this.
Do you want to be an encouragement to others? Love them. Do you want to be used of God? Share His love with others.
EXPRESSED IN ATTAINING
Would you like to be rich? Paul writes about "attaining to all riches." For some people the acquiring of wealth is the pursuit of a lifetime. Industry is often rewarded with riches.
But Paul is writing about something else, specifically, "the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." The apostle wants you to attain the knowledge of God.
What is the mystery of which Paul writes? The Father is God, and Christ is God. Jesus said, "My Father and I are one." John 10:30. This is a mystery. It's also a revealed truth in the Bible. No one can come to a knowledge of the Trinity apart from the Word of God, the holy Scriptures. Jesus Christ is all that God is. The amazing thing is that we can know God, because Jesus has made Him known. He prayed, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." John 17:3.
The word attaining infers an ongoing quest. There is always more treasure to be found. Do you want wisdom and understanding? "If you seek after her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." Proverbs 2:4, 5.
The prophet Daniel had a frightening vision and was told that at the time of the end "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." Daniel 12:4. In our day knowledge is increasing like no other time in history. Today the Internet has been rightly called "the information highway." But nothing is more important than knowing God.
A full assurance of understanding is truly a means of encouragement.
A REASON FOR REJOICING
Paul wrote, "For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing...." Even though the apostle carried many burdens he was an apostle of joy. This letter to the Colossians was written during his first Roman imprisonment. Just read his prison epistle to the church at Philippi, where his major theme is rejoicing in the Lord. He also found joy in the faith of others.
OF PERSUASIVE WORDS
The full assurance of the knowledge of God will keep the believer from falling into error. In this letter Paul addresses heresies which were being taught by some in the church. "Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words." Many people have been greatly influenced by heretical teaching of cultists, who often use and abuse the holy Scriptures.
A common heresy in Paul's day was Gnosticism. Gnostics denied the doctrine "of the Father and of Christ." They taught that Jesus had not come in the flesh, because the flesh was believed to be evil. In other words, they denied His humanity. The apostle John also addressed this false teaching, when he wrote, "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God." 1 John 4:2, 3. Paul put it this way: "For in Him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him...." Colossians 2:9, 10.
OF GENUINE FAITH
Obviously, Paul did not rejoice at the entrance of false teachers into the church. But he was "rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." A true knowledge of God is the basis for a genuine faith. If you believe right, you will live right.
The following verse is a wonderful Scripture to memorize. "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." Colossians 2:6. How did they receive the Lord Jesus? How did you receive Him? How does anyone receive Christ? "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." John 1:12. The Lord Jesus Christ is received by faith!
Then how shall we walk? How shall we live the Christian life? The same way that we received Him, that is, by faith. The just shall live by faith.
Our faith should be "rooted and built up in Him and established." This kind of faith is immovable, embedded in the Savior. The storms may come and the winds of false doctrine may blow, but in Christ we can stand fast. Faith grows down deeply rooted in the Lord and in the good soil of the knowledge of Him. The believers at Colosse had been taught the Word of God. Their faith was based upon that teaching.
A steadfast Christian is "abounding...with thanksgiving." He thanks God for all that he has in Christ, knowing that it is all because of His amazing grace.
A WORD OF WARNING
"Beware lest anyone cheat you (or plunder you or take you captive)." Don't let anyone rob you of your faith in the Lord. Even Barnabas, a great missionary, was deceived. See Galatians 2:13. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8. Paul warned the Corinthian believers of "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:13. Beware!
AVENUES OF DECEPTION
Beware of "philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Philosophy in itself is not bad. A philosopher is "a lover of wisdom." Christian colleges and seminaries teach Philosophy. However, Paul is warning against philosophy which is not according to Jesus Christ.
There is a philosophy which simply follows the traditions of men. The Pharisees are a good example of deeply religious Jews, who had fallen into this error. On one occasion they asked Jesus, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?" Certainly you should wash your hands before eating. Jesus answered, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.... All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition." Mark 7:5-9. Unfortunately, some churches today are not exempt from going along with the traditions of men, the very thing about which the apostle warned.
Philosophy is often according to the basic principles of the world. In another place Paul called it "the wisdom of the world." See 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. A contemporary example is the teaching of evolution. This would also fall under the heading of "empty deceit."
Consider the following statement, addressing this issue, by Dr. George Wald, a Nobel Prize winner of Harvard University, who said, "One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are---as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation." He believes what he himself says is impossible.
Those who believe the Genesis account of creation believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God. Those who adhere to the impossible theory of evolution believe that they have evolved from the image and likeness of Godzilla. Take your pick!
Students believe in evolution, because that's what they have been taught in the name of science. Is man a biological accident? Is there no intelligence and design in the universe? Can life come from non-life?
ANSWERS TO FALSE TEACHINGS
Truth is the answer to the traditions of men, and the basic principles of the world. The Bible will keep you from erroneous teaching.
The apostle Paul was a persuasive preacher. At Thessalonica those who heard him were easily persuaded to believe the gospel of Christ. But down the road in Berea, others were not so quick to accept the message. Luke wrote of the Bereans, "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men." Acts 17:11, 12. These put the preaching of Paul to the test of the Word of God.
The prophet Isaiah warned the Jews of his day, saying, "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20.
The knowledge of the Lord will be as a strong sentinel, guarding your heart. Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him.