I now have the ability to e-mail blog entries to this page, so I can share what I found this past week in Colossians 2…This chapter is warning believers about those who, seeing disciples who have such a tender heart toward God, would count this an opportunity to entrap them in their religious systems of legalism. I can recall one summer I was working with high school youth in a church in the west end of Duluth, and I encountered four different cults that tried to proselytize my kids. I realize they were targeting them for their teachable hearts and openness to spiritual things. I had to confront each of them, and it was interesting how in spite of holding different doctrines, they all had one common theme: Do it right and God will love you, follow main stream religion and you will go to hell. They were all some form of legalism.

So in reading Colossians 2, I found what I call the “Four No Ones”. These “no ones” are to be avoided – warned against, and the source of their message is actually demonic. In the NASB, they are found in verses 4, 8, 16, and 18. Paul warns the Colossians believers what these four no ones will try to do…

#1. Col 2:4 “…no one will delude you with persuasive argument.”

Jesus said in John 6:44, 45, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” People who have something to gain by getting “converts” will ignore this teaching of Jesus and lean on their own persuasive abilities. As a lawyer, I can certainly imagine justifying the use of argument to bring people to Jesus, but I can’t ignore what Jesus said about how people really come to him. Back in Duluth, I tried my best arguing skills on these proselytizers, but they were not being drawn by God, so I that was accomplished was to distract me from the true Kingdom work and validate the credibility of these deceivers! I learned a good lesson about the value and place of “argument”.

#2. Col. 2:8 “…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.”

The “elementary principles of the world” would be better translated “ranks of this world”. It’s the Greek word “stoicheion”, which appears in also in verse 20, and in Gal. 4:3 where is says that “we were in bondage” to them! There is a spiritual warfare element in legalism, taking advantage of a tender, teachable heart, and taking it “captive” to it’s good-sounding “principles”. These “ranks” are put opposite the person of Christ, not just His teaching – so it is not just a battle of words, but a spiritual battle as well.

#3. Col. 2:16 “…no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day,”

In the very next verse, it says how these things are just a “shadow of what is to come”. These “no ones” will cast judgment on us for not keeping certain holidays and for eating certain foods. There are a lot of people who watch what they eat, or avoid eating certain things, but when they attach religious or moral “merit” to this, I can get a little ticked off. It’s my challenge to understand that these guys have been taken captive to this conviction by the very thing Paul is talking about here. They need good news – not a return dose of “judgment”.

#4. Col. 2:18 “…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,…”

Finally, these “no ones” will ultimately defraud us of our prize, or what is to be our real treasure: to “know” Jesus at the heart level. The way of legalism hardens our hearts to grace, because grace becomes a detractor of any merit we gain by following rules. It’s like the Prodigal Son’s brother – he found it impossible to rejoice in the redemption of his own brother because his eye was on his own comparing his own good behavior to his previously “lost” brother. Only the Father could love them both – only the Father understood the depth of grace – and the younger son was beginning to understand it because his heart was softened though hardship.

May the Lord keep our hearts soft to His grace in the midst of our struggles, and the struggles of others, and keep us watchful of the “no ones”.


Bob Roby

The Journey, East Central MN

763 221-4760