Wednesday, August 26, 2015

COLOSSIANS—The Beguiling

Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile;
So ere you find where light in darkness lies,
Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes. 
William Shakespeare, "Love's Labor's Lost" Act 1. scene 1
Couched within difficult poetic language, Shakespeare echoes the warnings of the Apostle Paul found in his letter to the Colossians.
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. (Col. 2:4)
To be sure, Paul was not necessarily talking about books as Berowne was in his objection to the King of Navarre's suggestion that all pleasurable pursuits be rejected for a season in the pursuit of wisdom. However, the similarity cannot be missed in the phrase "with enticing words."

I have witnessed over the years how the "light grows dark by (the) losing of your eyes."

People who once walked in great revelation of the things have God have turned back to the "weak and beggarly elements" (Gal. 4:9) that have no power to transform a life.

The context of the verse from Galatians speaks specifically of observing "days, and months, and times, and years." In that time, Paul was referring to the observance of Jewish festivals.

In our day, it would refer to the solstices and equinoxes and full moons, to which many have returned, having been beguiled into following the "wisdom of the ancients."

Before you throw me under the bus, let me be clear that I have no problem with the ancient wisdom. I read from many of their writings frequently—Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Plato, Epictetus, Siddhārtha Gautama, Lao Tsu—but not nearly as frequently as Jesus, Solomon, David, or Paul.

My 'problem,' if you will, is that many have utterly forsaken the writings of the latter group in favor of the former.

For some reason, the Body of Christ in general became weary of hearing the same messages, and turned to "hear some new thing" (Acts 17:21). For some with whom I had fellowship it was not uncommon to be asked, "How long have you been in the message?" This, of course, indicated that we were 'privileged' to be hearing something to which the rest of the Body was not privy.

I do not deny that it is wearisome to sit and hear a message on salvation week after week, but at least that is a biblical doctrine. And many of the things we were hearing that put us "in the message" were also biblical doctrine.

It was the desire to know more without necessarily becoming more (Ja. 1:22), which automatically leads to deception. And because much of what was heard had no possible practical application, there was no "doing," just hearing.

In the natural, when we begin to feed ourselves on processed foods and sweets, we begin to desire even more, and soon leave off that which truly nourishes the body. It looks and maybe even tastes like 'food,' but it is not.

Most of the 'enticing' things that have crept in among the people of God have been polished with the Word while being stained with the world.

Subtle.
Leaven.
But, hey. It's only just a little.

This idea of being 'beguiled' is paramount in Paul's mind as he writes this letter.

The word in the Greek, and its translation as we have it here, means to deceive by false reasoning.

If it were a danger back then when the concept of being educated included the use of rhetoric and logic, how much more so today when even the simplest of syllogisms cannot be discerned by the average educated person?

We are warned specifically no less than four times in Chapter 2 alone (vss. 4, 8, 16, and 18) to be on our guard against the subtle deception of man's reasoning.

Our reasoning (or the lack thereof) is at the heart of much of our deception in this hour, even though it began in millennia past.

Instead of comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Cor. 2:13), we have taken Satan's approach and compare spiritual things with natural (Matt. 4:3-6).

Here is just a sampling of things with which I am aware:
  • All means all
  • Since we are told to choose, that means we have a free will
  • There is no way a loving God could condemn anyone to hell for eternity
  • Since Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, then everyone is saved
Each of these is logical, and based on a particular verse or verses of scripture. However, the so-called logical conclusion is often without the same biblical support, but is often in opposition to other verses.

Since it is next to impossible to determine for oneself the possibility of being deceived, let us ask the Lord to show us, for it is He who knows the heart, not us (Jer. 17:9-10).

Let us, then, return with fresh eyes to the Word of God, reading as if we have never before seen this passage, and ask the Lord by His Spirit to give us "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him (and that) the eyes of our understanding (may) be enlightened (so) that we may know what is the hope of his calling" (Eph. 1:17b-18b).

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