You Will Recognize Them By Their Fruit

Colossians Bible Study Day 5 of 14

Read Colossians 2:1-8

I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:1-8 (NIV)

Paul spends a considerable amount of his letter to the Colossians addressing false teachings. In this short section of scripture alone we see two distinct warnings (v4 & 8), but there are many more throughout the letter. These false teachings are a big deal! In fact, it is the reason this letter was written to the Colossians (v2-3).

God, using Paul as his messenger, is telling us that He can be known through Jesus who provides complete understanding, wisdom, and knowledge. BUT is warning us of false teachings that appear as “fine-sounding arguments,” but are actually “deceptive philosophy.”

In light of this message we need to answer two questions 

  1. How do we differentiate fine-sounding arguments from good, sound arguments?
  2. How do we know when philosophy is deceiving us?

In the sermon on the mount Jesus gives us an excellent way to identify false teachers and false teachings.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7: 15-20 (NIV)

Jesus is saying we can identify false teachers and false teaching by monitoring the results of the teaching/teacher. Does your belief lead to peace or depression? Does the teacher’s life look chaotic or harmonious?

You will recognize them by their fruit.  

Diving Deeper

Think about those dark moments; the moments when you are filled with shame or regret. How did you end up there? Were you looking at porn? Did you have too much to drink? Did you say something you shouldn’t have?

First, God’s grace is sufficient and he offers you forgiveness.

Second, I am sorry that happened.

Third, if we find ourselves returning to the same hurtful activity over and over again then we might have more than just a sin problem. We might have a core belief problem. We may be trusting in a false teaching.

I challenge us to explore the areas where we continue to do wrong. Find the root cause of our repeated sin by asking why we do what we do (you might have to ask “why” several times to get there). The goal is that we would dig deep into our hearts until we find a core belief, the false teaching, that is fueling our evil-doing. I’ll give an example below.

Surface Sin – Keep thinking inappropriate sexual thoughts about people other than my spouse
Why? – I want to do those things or relive past experiences
Why? – I think it would be fun
Why? – I think sexual experiences with multiple people is better than monogamy
False Belief – Sexual experiences with multiple people is better than monogamy 

May God expose our hearts to the truth and make known any false teachings we have put our trust in. May He give us the strength to eliminate all of our wrong beliefs and discernment to recognize any false teachers.

2 thoughts on “You Will Recognize Them By Their Fruit”

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