Hating Religion and Loving Jesus

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind.

–Colossians 2:18

Twelve years ago, Jefferson Bethke released a spoken-word poetry performance entitled “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Within two weeks, the video had more than 16 million views on YouTube. Bethke’s poem clearly struck a nerve with modern audiences, even though his message was at least two thousand years old. Though there’s no record that the apostle Paul ever performed spoken-word poetry, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul explained why he hated man-made religion but loved the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

In our study of Colossians, we’re in the heart of Paul’s letter to a church that was being infiltrated by false teachers. These false teachers weren’t Satanists or occultists; they were professing Christians who said the gospel of Jesus Christ is essential but not enough.

One group of false teachers was trying to add human philosophy to the gospel. They said, “You need Christ, but you also need human wisdom.”

A second group, the legalists, was trying to add rituals and regulations to the gospel. They said, “You need Christ, but you also need to adhere to the Old Testament laws and festivals.”

A third group of false teachers was trying to add mysticism to the gospel. They said, “You need Christ, but you also need a mystical, supernatural experience with God to be a truly spiritual Christian.”

In Colossians 2:18, Paul issued this warning against mysticism: “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind.”

The Greek word translated as “defrauding” in this verse is an athletic term. It means to give a judgment against, the way a referee or an umpire makes a judgment in a sporting event. You probably know what it feels like when a team you support is on the wrong end of one of those calls. If a call by the referee ends up costing your team the game, you feel like you were cheated out of a victory.

Similarly, Paul was saying to the Colossian Christians, “Let no one rob you of the prize that belongs to you.” The prize is knowing that all is right between you and God and that you have everything you need to live the Christian life. Don’t let anybody rob you of that prize by saying you need an additional mystical experience. In Christ, you have everything you need.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “Hating Religion and Loving Jesus” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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