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 (Colossians 2:8, NKJV).
Paul’s warning against deceivers who would plunder our spiritual treasures in Christ is not new (2 Cor. 11:3-4, 12-15). Let us give attention to “the basic principles of the world” that are not according to Christ and fuel this deception. The basic principles of the world are not the chemical elements that constitute the physical realm (2 Pet. 3:10, 12). They are the fundamental evil elements that oppose God, His purposes, and His truth. They enslave souls to the service of sin (Gal. 4:3). Consider four basic principles of the world: (1) Unbelief. It plunges souls into darkness, ignorance, and alienation from the true and living God (Eph. 4:17-19). Without faith, we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). (2) The traditions, commands, and doctrines of men. Human philosophies appeal to the intellect, often seem plausible, yet are “empty deceit” that cannot save us and protect us from sin (Col. 2:8, 20-23). (3) Carnality and its works. The evil world is composed of the lusts of the flesh, of the eyes, and life’s pride. These stimulate all manner of works of the flesh (1 John 2:15-17; Gal. 5:19-21). Carnal-mindedness opposes God and causes spiritual death (Rom. 8:5-8). (4) The will of men instead of the will of God (1 Pet. 4:2-3). Elevating our cravings and will above God is a fundamental element of the world. Be encouraged and beware; Do not let anyone plunder your spiritual treasure in Christ (Col. 2:1-3).
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. (Colossians 2:8, NKJV)
This warning is equally relevant and applicable to us as when given to the Colossian saints. Consider dissecting this warning in reverse. 1) The source of the danger. False teachings originate in the “basic principles of the world” and the “tradition of men” formed around those principles. We are taught not to love the world (1 Jno. 2:15-17). False teaching grows out of misplaced love, impure lusts, and human pride. 2) The means used to spread false teaching. The philosophical systems and sophistry of men (the wisdom of men) inject doubt and “empty deceit” into unsuspecting minds (Col. 2:3-4; Rom. 16:16-17). The gospel is foolishness to the “enlightened” minds of unbelievers. Professing to be wise, they become fools (1 Cor. 1:18-25; Rom. 1:22). 3) The effect of false teaching. It captures souls and plunders our spiritual treasures. In Christ, we have “all riches of the full assurance of understanding” because “all the treasures of wisdom and understanding” are in Him (Col. 2:3-4). Truth is in Jesus, and error is of the evil one (Eph. 4:21; 2 Cor. 4:3-4). 4) The warning. We must “beware,” carefully watching for false teachers and their deceptive teachings. You see, it matters to God what we believe and teach. He does not accept every “wind of doctrine;” therefore, we cannot (Eph. 4:14). Because there is truth, there is also error. We strive to speak the truth in love because the truth frees us from sin (Eph. 4:15; Jno. 8:31-32).
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. (Ephesians 4:25, NKJV)
In this familiar Bible verse, a reason to be honest with one another is given in it, with another reason given just prior to it. “Therefore” draws our attention to what was just said, namely, that we have “put on the new man which is created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). When we heard the gospel and “learned Christ,” we were taught to put off the old person of corruption and “deceitful lusts,” and to be “renewed” in the spirit of our mind (Eph. 4:20-23). We choose to be honest and to stop being deceitful. Honesty is a choice of faith. Secondly, we tell the truth because we are members of each other in the body of Christ (v. 25). The hand does not lie to the arm; the ear does not lie to the eye. Neither are Christians to lie to one another. As members of the body of Christ (His church), we are connected to each other – “members of one another” (Rom. 12:5). Christ (our head) knows when we do not speak the truth, so we ought not to try to deceive one another. Honesty is a choice we make because we think of others as better and more important than ourselves. Finally, be sure you do not lie to yourself. Deceiving yourself that lying is acceptable hardens your heart against truth and leads to eternal death (Rev. 21:8).
12 “They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” (Romans 3:12–14, NKJV)
In this passage the apostle used a number of quotations from the Psalms and the Prophets to fortify his statement that “all are under sin” (Rom. 3:9). In verse 12 he applies Psalm 14:3, pointing out the futility of seeking satisfaction in things that turn us away from God and His way of truth. Sin’s futility is exposed – it never delivers what it promises (2 Pet. 2:19). Next, Paul quoted Psalm 5:9, 40:3, and 10:7 in verses 13 and 14 to amplify the sins of the tongue. Our words come from our heart, therefore, when we lie, curse and speak bitter words we reveal malice and contempt in our heart. Stinging words that hurt and harm identify a real and present danger to our souls. We must control our heart to speak words that are fitting, not destructive (Prov. 25:11). We must use God’s word to identify our sins. By doing so we can be convicted, leading to repentance (Acts 2:37-38). Otherwise, we remain enslaved to sin and spiritually dead.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight. (Proverbs 12:22, NKJV)
Some folks lie as easily as they tell the truth. It seems as if they lie when telling the truth would be easier. Why is this? I suppose there are many reasons why, but basically lying occurs because one’s heart is not honest. Words mean something, and when one speaks falsehoods it reveals a dishonest heart. Not only does today’s verse plainly say that God detests lying, it also teaches that our honesty is shown by our actions (how we deal with others). Solomon also said, “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight” (Proverbs 11:1). A scale is an inanimate object that measures weight. In buying and selling, how one used the scales revealed either honesty or deceit. You see, dishonesty, whether it takes the form of lying words or deceitful actions, comes from a dishonest heart. An honest heart does not stop to judge whether or not to speak the truth to its neighbor (Ephesians 4:25). It instinctively tells the truth. If that cannot be said of you, then cleanse your heart of its deceit and treat others honestly. This will please God.
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10, NKJV)
The godly must have clear eyes to see when sinners are enticing them to do evil. Under the guise of what is good and beneficial, the innocent and the gullible are deceived into following sinners into all sorts of destructive behavior. Just as the serpent deceived Eve, our minds can be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). Deception and lies are the hallmark of the devil and his cohorts (see John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Many loving parents have warned their children against following the path of sinners (Proverbs 1:15-19). Such instruction, when followed, beautifies one’s life with grace (Proverbs 1:8-9). But, to refuse such warnings to resist and turn away from evil people and their enticements is foolish indeed (Proverbs 1:20-27). When a parent, a friend or a fellow Christian warns you of spiritual danger, accept their counsel and follow the wisdom of divine truth. God’s word turns you away from lusts while urging you to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Do not be enticed by sinners. Instead, flee sin and expose it for the evil that it is (Ephesians 5:11).
13 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” 14 And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.” (Jeremiah 14:13–14, NKJV)
Many prophets were telling Judah, “Peace, peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Jeremiah was telling them destruction was on the way (Jeremiah 6:22-30). How was Israel to know the difference between a false prophet and a true prophet? “If the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Jeremiah was the true prophet; the others were false because their prophecies failed. False prophets are deceived and speak from hearts of deception, not from divine revelation. Even today some claim to be prophets of God. But, like the lying prophets of old, their words are false because they do not conform to the Scriptures (the revealed mind of God, 1 Corinthians 2:6-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Revelation is now complete (John 16:13). Today, we know whether a message is from God or from the heart of man by comparing it to the words of Christ’s apostles (1 John 4:1, 6). They wrote the commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37).
8 Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and note it on a scroll, that it may be for time to come, forever and ever: 9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord; 10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” (Isaiah 30:8–10, NKJV)
God wanted there to be no doubt as to why Israel would come under the penalty of His judgment and be fragmented as a nation (Isaiah 30:12-14; Jeremiah 30:11). The prophet’s inscription of God’s word has left an indelible explanation that instructs us today. Like the rebellion of lying children who refuse to obey their parents, Israel rebelliously rejected and opposed God’s servants the prophets (Jeremiah 7:23-27). They rebelled at His word and called for smooth teachings instead of the right things of God. They were willing to be deceived by sin and error. Their rebellion was their downfall. Do not argue against the word of God. Do not call for smooth teachings that feel good but deny the truth (God’s word). One who refuses the truth of God is in rebellion against God. That is a most unenviable, most repulsive, place to be. If that is where you are, leave your rebellion and go back to your heavenly Father. He is merciful, and ready to forgive (Luke 15:11-24).
The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them. (Proverbs 11:3, NKJV)
The contrast in this verse is between being blameless and being devious in attitude and action toward others. It is the difference between honesty and dishonesty. Every day, we face split-second decisions that reveal whether or not we are guided by integrity. For example, do you give back the extra ten dollars of change the cashier mistakenly gave you? (If not, why not? It is not yours.) Do you protest and pay the full amount that is due when that same cashier undercharges you? (If not, why not? Honesty demands you pay what you owe.) Do you lie to close a business transaction? (Are you okay with someone lying to you in a business deal?) Do you give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay? (Or, do you slack off when the boss is not around?) You see, straightforwardness and honesty must guide our values and our treatment of others. Integrity produces reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness. These qualities bring success to one’s life. But, the deceitful will be caught in their own net and destroyed (Psa. 35:7-8). When a person loses his sense of truth, fairness and justice, his integrity is ruined. Left unchanged, eternal ruin awaits (Rev. 21:8).
“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:3, NKJV)
Among the sins in Judah that brought Jeremiah to tears were the lies that characterized their daily existence. Dishonesty had become their nature; deceit and lies prevailed in the land rather than truth. God is a God of truth and utter integrity, and He hates “a lying tongue” (Prov. 6:16-17). His people must be holy, as He is holy. But, Judah ran from sin to sin, conforming to the evil around them instead of the holiness of Jehovah. This stern warning of divine rebuke and judgment stirs our devotion to truth, to be trustworthy in word and deed. Since “every transgression and disobedience received a just reward” under the Law of Moses, we will not escape if we choose lies over truth (Heb. 2:2-3). Be noble and brave for the truth, even when those around you speak lies. “Refrain your tongue from evil” and your “lips from speaking deceit” (1 Pet. 3:10).