8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
Last week we remarked that one of the constant temptations which faces us as human beings and even as the people of God is to substitute our own religious ideas for the revelation of God. But all such substitutes Paul characterizes in no uncertain terms as vanity, emptiness, folly – teachings that are in accordance with the traditions of men but not according to Christ.
Paul informs us today that the reason these various unbelieving worldviews are vanity is because they are not connected to Christ in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. The reason it is folly to reject Christ is because when He spoke, God spoke; when He acted, God acted; when He wept, God wept; when He thundered, God thundered. Our Lord Jesus Christ was the full embodiment of the deity and so we can know that the things he spoke, thought, and did were infallible revelations of God’s person and will. No clearer revelation was possible.
Note what folly it is, then, to mess with the Scripture’s presentation of Jesus as God Himself clothed in human flesh. If Jesus is not God then the things he revealed are no more solid and sure than the teachings of Plato. If Jesus is not God, then we are left with the mere opinions and traditions of men. No wonder then that Paul’s most stern denunciations fall on those who preach “false Christs” – for if our faith is in any Christ other than the one Paul preached then our faith is in vain.
But glory be to God, the Scriptures clearly declare, both here in Colossians and in other places, that Jesus is fully God and fully man. He is fully capable of revealing the Father to us and fully capable of identifying with us – because He bears in His one person the two natures – divine and human.
It is no coincidence that of all the differences between the non-Christian religions of the world and pseudo-Christian cults, the one thing they hold tenaciously in common is a rejection of the fully deity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pseudo-Christian cults not infrequently accuse Christians of twisting the Scriptures to develop the so-called “monstrosity” of the Trinity. But Paul tells us quite plainly today – in Him all the fullness of the deity dwells in bodily form.
And so, knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ was indeed God Himself clothed in human flesh, let us confess before Him that rather than pay attention to His Word as we ought, we frequently resort to the opinions and traditions of men who can bring only vanity and emptiness. Let us kneel and confess our failure to listen to our Lord.