Dangers of False Teachers

Fall Lesson 10

Colossians 2:16-23

Lesson Resources: 

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Sources: Esword, Explore the Bible, Adams, Warren Wiersbe, Matthew Henry

In school there are often groups of students that hang out together because they like the same style of clothing, the same style of music, or the same types of people. Many times they will attempt to get new students to join them. When someone approaches you with an “opportunity” to join one of these groups, there is a certain amount of peer pressure that comes with it. Students will judge others, or be judged by others, for not  wearing certain kinds of clothes, doing things a certain way, or for not participating in certain activities. This type of pressure wasn’t all that different from three groups of people in Colossae that were causing issues in the church. Each of these groups were trying to influence believers to follow them and each of them were falsely teaching what it meant to be a true Christian. Following someone who is teaching falsely is an extreme danger to believers and non believers alike. This morning we will look at how WE CAN AVOID THE DANGERS OF FALSE TEACHERS BY OBSERVING THREE WARNINGS. 


COLOSSIANS 2:16-17 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. 

The first group of people that were causing issues in the church at Colossae were known as Judaiesers. This group was trying to convince believers that in order to be truly right with God they needed to keep the Jewish food laws and festivals. Paul had just clearly stated in verses 9-10, For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: and in verse 14 he plainly told them how Christ had paid the debt that was owed and freed us from the rule of the law. Paul was clearly speaking truth into this situation and he was directly addressing the Judaisers false teachings. Because of what Christ has done for us we are no longer bound to the law, food laws or the necessity of keeping festivals.

Paul never dismissed Jewish food laws or festivals as unimportant. What he did instead was command the church at Colossae to not let anyone judge their worth or their standing before God on the basis of these issues. Any claim that Jewish festivals, food laws, or rituals must be observed to be right with God should be opposed. Such teaching contradicts the gospel, which tells us that salvation is a gift and cannot be earned through law-keeping or any other human effort (Eph. 2:8-10).

The purpose of the law was that we would all understand that we stand guilty before an almighty God, Romans 3:19. We also know, according to Galatians 3:24,  that, …the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. The law was never given to teach us how we could be right with God by keeping it because the point of the law was to demonstrate it is impossible to keep. So, if it was never intended to make us right with God, how can it help us to be right with God? Paul tells the Colossians that the law was simply a shadow of what, or who, was to come – Jesus. What would you rather have, the shadow of someone you love or the actual person you love?


Don’t  let others judge you for doing certain things, or not doing certain things, that they believe will help to make you right before God. Remember, we have been made right with God because of what Christ has done for us, not because of anything we can do!


COLOSSIANS 2:18-19 18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. 

The second group of people that were causing issues in the church at Colossae were known as Mystics. Paul gives them the warning right away concerning this group. Paul didn’t want believers to be beguiled, which means – tricked, defrauded, duped, enticed or misled. Here, it literally means “to declare unworthy of a prize.” It is an athletic term: the umpire disqualifies the contestant because he has not obeyed the rules. The contestant does not cease to be a member of the team, but he forfeits the honor of winning a prize. A Christian who fails to obey God’s directions does not lose his salvation. But he does lose the approval of the Lord and the rewards He has promised to those who are faithful.

Just how were they being defrauded? It started with a  false humility by those who were trying to deceive them. Those who practiced Mysticism believed that a person could have an immediate experience with the spiritual world, completely apart from the Word of God or the Holy Spirit. They had visions and were opening themselves up to all kinds of demonic activity. The danger is that Satan knows how to give counterfeit experiences to people. The word translated “intruding” was a technical term used by the mystical religions of that day. It meant “to set foot in the inner shrine, to be fully initiated into the mysteries of the religion.” A Christian does not have to go through a religious ceremony, a set of classes or training in order to go before God. We may “come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16). Another danger of this false teaching is that if you begin with false humility you will end up as Paul says, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, which means pride. True worship of God eliminates our pride and demonstrates that God alone is worthy, not angels, not men, and not any religious ceremony man might imagine.


 If we truly want to grow in our relationship with Christ then Christ must be first in everything. He must be as Paul states, the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.  Paul’s point in verse 19 is that those who claim that keeping religious rituals and rules is necessary for salvation have lost sight of the author of salvation. They have lost sight of Jesus, who holds every member of the church (His body) together and ensures their flourishing and growth. God is fully committed to the spiritual growth of all who trust Him.



COLOSSIANS 2:20-23 20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

The third  group of people that were causing issues in the church at Colossae were known as Ascetics. The Ascetics believed that one can reach a high spiritual state through the practice of extreme self-denial or self-mortification. When you hear Ascetic think about someone like a monk. They live in a solitary place removed from the world, away from distractions, and away from most temptations. In some cases, they would inflict bodily harm to themselves thinking this would show their devotion to God. They would have certain diets that prevented them from eating specific things or there would be some type of rules preventing them from even touching certain things. All of these restrictions were done in an effort to advance themselves spiritually. Paul tells the Colossians that those things that are tangible are things that will perish, making them useless.

Paul’s warning to the Colossians is that any lifestyle we adopt in an attempt to get closer to God, in an attempt to gain his favor, or in an attempt to stay right with Him will only end up enslaving us. Christ died to make us free! Christ is the one that saves us, justifies us and sanctifies us! We are His children because He loves us and died for us, not because we jump through the right hoops or keep all the right rules and rituals. There isn’t anything we need to do because Christ has done it all for us. Simply put, the Ascetics were trying to elevate human effort above God’s power and grace, and their efforts only ended up enslaving them to their own rules and regulations.


It is always important to remember where these rules, regulations and rituals came from, – Man, not God! In verse 23 Paul tells us this is all a show, or a false representation, of humility, wisdom, and denial of self. The power of Christ in the life of the believer does more than merely restrain the desires of the flesh: it puts new desires within him. We have all been given a new nature, through Christ, so that we can live lives that bring honor and glory to God. True change only happens from the inside out, not the outside in.


The answer to the Judaisers’ legalism is the spiritual reality we have in Christ. The answer to mysticism is the spiritual union with Christ, the Head of the church. The answer to asceticism is our position in Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection.