Whatever a man loves the most, that he will be most jealous and protective of. The Christian’s chief object of affection is Christ Jesus the Lord. Paul said in verse 7 the Christian is to be a soul “abounding in thanksgiving.” The root of genuine thanksgiving is having received Christ. Once we have him, we must guard our relationship with him, which means the truth about him and our affections.

The Lord Jesus spoke of his binding the strongman in order to plunder his house, meaning the salvation of souls he accomplished on the cross rescues people from the power of the devil. But the devil doesn’t give up when someone comes to Christ. His rage provokes assaults on the faith of the Christian and the truth of the gospel.

Paul warns the church in Colossae in verse 8: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” The devil works through men to deceive. Jesus called the Pharisees children of the devil, not only for their hearts and lives, but also for what they taught about God.

So we must be careful. The word Paul uses for “captive” means plunder from a battle, like when soldiers would capture a city and carry off the loot. Behind all false teaching is evil spirits who may appear as angels of light, meaning there is some good and truth in what is said, but the heart and essence of it is a denial of Christ. Paul says it is “not according to Christ.”

Paul does not go into details about what he means by the false teaching he warns of here. We should focus on the emphasis of it being “empty” or vain. Also, it is according to “human tradition.” All false teaching will tend toward flattering men and appealing to their swollen pride.

 The Pharisees with their strict religious rituals did some good things, yet it was to increase their vanity. Vanity and self-absorption is the essence of hell. Glorifying and enjoying God is the essence of heaven. In 2nd Timothy 3, Paul teaches that false teaching may promote a “form of godliness,” but it denies the power of godliness.

How do we guard ourselves against teaching that is not according to Christ? We know we are to be charitable toward Christians who have different views on doctrine. Nevertheless, warnings abound in Scripture over false teaching, so it is a real and present danger. Let me suggest three areas that are vital in teaching that is “according to Christ.”

First, there is the doctrine of man. Paul has already reminded Christians.  In chapter 1 they were formerly alienated and hostile in mind toward God, doing evil deeds. Men are by nature lovers of themselves, not lovers of God. They are those hating others and being hated. They may do outward good things but are inwardly full of corruption.

If there were no outward restraints on man or inward restraints by conscience, there would be no bounds of the evil he is capable of. Men are described as living in darkness and dead apart from the Spirit of God. The truth of this is plain in the history of men and nations. No one is exempted from this indictment of Scripture save one, the Lord Jesus.

Secondly, there is the doctrine of Christ. All false teaching will deny the necessity and sufficiency of Christ. Paul says in verse 9; “In Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Christ is fully God and fully man and he came from heaven to be born of a woman for a reason. He came to save. He is a necessary Savior. He says you will die apart from him. You will perish in your sins.

The gospel is good news because we are “filled in him (verse 10).” He has done all necessary for our standing with God. If we try and add anything to his finished work, we deny Him and our need of Him. His death is an atoning sacrifice. The debt of sin is absolved in Christ. We must look to Him.

Thirdly, we must be born again. The natural man has not only a natural blindness to the things of God but a natural enmity. He must be enlightened by the Spirit of God to discern his sin and misery. It is the poor in spirit who embrace Christ. It is those who lose their life who find it in Christ.

False teaching is legion in its approaches and doctrines. Guard your heart and life, look to Christ alone, and be wary of those who would teach any other way to life with God.