Author, Chuck Gianotti, echoes the apostle Paul’s word of warning, “Beware…” This post is a sobering caution to those that are on the other side of the pulpit to hold teachers accountable. For those that are pastors and trainers of pastors, a warning to be sure they hold themselves and their co-laborers to the standard and truth of the Word of God.
Reposted with kind permission of the author, appearing originally via Bible-equip.org. Also included in Mr. Gianotti’s book, Day by Day in the Prison Epistles.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
Where there are truth tellers, there are the truth perverters. In Paul’s time, the Judaizers tried to infuse the Law into the message of Christ and grace, and the pre-Gnostics tried to mystify spirituality with their fanciful imagination. Paul warns repeatedly throughout his writings against anything that changes the gospel message or threatens it in any way.
Remember in Galatians he wrote rather acerbically, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Gal 1:8-9). To the Corinthians, he wrote, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete” (2 Co 10:3–6).
So here also, with the Colossians, he warns them not to fall captive to religio-philosophical lies, invented by humans. This is particularly concerning in our present day where we are witnessing a proliferation of religious philosophies competing for the minds of people. More and more these worldviews are commonplace in academia and in popular culture, whether rooted in eastern religious thought or simply in the rehash of older philosophies disguised as new or post-modern thinking. They all have one thing in common: they originate in the imaginations of humans. Paul calls this “the tradition of men,” and they are rooted in what he describes as “the elementary principles of the world.” All false teaching originates on earth, rather than in heaven in Christ.
This warning of Paul’s speaks to the very real possibility for genuine Christians to be deceived and led astray from truth, from right doctrine. False teachers can be skilled at manipulation and in framing their teachings in attractive, somewhat convincing ways—but their teachings are none-the-less false. Christians need to be on guard, examining every teaching, to determine whether it is biblical, that is, whether it comes from God or not.
Why not take a moment to stop and pray? Lord, help me to be discerning so that I and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ would not be deceived but be able to actively confront false teaching.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chuck Gianotti (Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary) has held leadership roles in four different churches since becoming a Christian in 1972 just out of university. He has been serving the Lord full time since 1983 in teaching, leading and writing ministries, and is currently the director of Biblical Eldership Resources (www.BiblicalEldership.com), an international ministry for promoting eldership and building up church elders and leaders with innovative online resources. Chuck has authored numerous books, pamphlets, and blogs and speaks at camps, conferences, and churches. He is married with two grown children and can be reached at email@example.com.