Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual minds. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow (Col. 2: 18-19).
Paul alluded here to two of the main ‘idle notions’ of the Gnostic heresy; ‘the worship of angels’ and ‘false humility’. To answer the problem of evil, they taught that a demiurge, the last of a series of ’emanations’ or angels, which separated God from creation which they regarded as evil, was responsible for creation. Denial of sensory pleasures, asceticism, was the way to overcome the evils of the flesh. This led to false humility – pride in their own effort to overcome the lusts of the flesh by self-denial.
The Bible consistently teaches that the world is in the control of fallen angels led by Satan. Paul made it clear in this letter, that Jesus Christ overcame all the principalities and powers that rule the world through the cross. Believers in Christ have died to these powers who rule by deception, and are no longer subject to them. Therefore, to continue to acknowledge their control is to deny the work of Jesus’ death on the cross.
The church, which is the body of which Jesus Christ is the head, is the custodian of the truth as long as the body remains connected to the head. At no time did Jesus appoint a human being to deputise for Him or to take His place as head of the church, as is taught in Roman Catholicism. The pope is not Christ’s deputy and representative of Jesus Christ on earth. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers, to represent Him, to reveal Him and to lead believers into all truth (John 16: 12-15).
Referring back to verses 16 and 17, Paul counselled that they were not to allow these false teachers or any other body or group to set the standard of their behaviour or what they believed, but the church – the ‘body’ of which Jesus is the head. The Head and the body are inseparably joined together by their interconnecting relationships which provides the strength and causes the body to grow. It was the Head, through the body, which directed the lives and behaviour of the members of the body.
In the Old Covenant, eating and drinking were part of the celebration of their relationship with God. He instructed them to celebrate His goodness in providing for them through their annual harvests by a series of feasts. Even their deliverance from slavery in Egypt was remembered by an annual Passover Feast. Eating and drinking, far from being sensual indulgence which was forbidden by Gnostic teaching, was the way to recognise and give thanks to the Lord for His goodness to them.
These beliefs and practices which were being advocated by Gnostic teachers, were evidence that they were part of a group which was no longer a part of the body and had lost contact with the head.
‘Lost connection with the head . . .’ This was Paul’s answer to the question as to why there are so many deviations from the simple truth that is in Jesus Christ today. The church has become the laughingstock of the world because of its fragmentation. Where is the unity which is supposed to characterise the church and bear witness to the world that the Father sent the Son (John 17: 21)?
People are carried away by ‘idle notions’, thoughts and philosophies that arise from ‘unspiritual minds’, and not from God’s Word. God has given us His inspired and infallible Word as the foundation of what we believe and upon which we are to build our lives. Every thought and idea must be tested against the truth of God’s Word.
He has also provided us with the indwelling Spirit of truth but the ‘unspiritual mind’ would rather follow the convenience of its ‘idle notions’ which tend towards ‘false humility’ rather than the less palatable truth that everything we have and everything we need is in Christ.
Jesus’ response to the elaborate notions that conflict with the truth in people’s minds, is found in His simple prescription:
Remain in me as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you’ (John 15: 4-5; 7).
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.