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Spiritual Intimidation, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 7, 2022 4:00 am

Spiritual Intimidation, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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April 7, 2022 4:00 am

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What is he saying don't let anybody tell you you are disqualified from attaining the prize of spirituality because you haven't reached the level of self abasement you haven't understood the worship of angels you haven't had the right visions all they are is inflated by their own fleshly mind know sometimes that goes great, but sometimes there are people who immediately bring up why they could never be a Christian. Perhaps there ready to argue that every religion has at least a kernel of truth, and there are many paths to God.

Conversations like that can be intimidating and so in those situations, how should you respond. How can you make sure you're honoring the Lord consider that today as John continues his study called complete in Christ. Now here's John now has become to Colossians chapter 2 verses 8 to 23. That little section in the middle of the book is the heart of the letter for is a frontal attack against the heretics that were belaboring the church in Colossae and there were four different aspects to this heresy was already in the past that from verse eight through 15. Paul dealt with the subject of human philosophy. They were saying you need Christ plus human wisdom. You need Christ plus human philosophy, and Paul says you need Christ plus nothing.

The next one is legalism. They not only had said to these Colossian Christians are not to cut it because you know human philosophy. There are things that you haven't yet learned but they said secondly you must commit yourself to the religion of human achievement is Christ plus works righteousness. Having discussed legalism. He moves to his third point and he discusses mysticism and this is so very interesting.

These people were also trying to intimidate the Colossians in the area of of mysticism I say what is mysticism to be a simple layman's definition simple enough for me to understand.

Mysticism is a deeper or higher religious experience based on some personal intuition subject to deeper or higher subjective spiritual experience is like saying will. I've had a experience that I can't define but I've touched God mysticism of the heretics were claiming this they were saying we have a higher and a broader and deeper in the greater the mystical union with God. We have attained humility and piety that is unlike anything you've experienced. We have connected ourselves with the Aion's and the demigods and the sub gods and we climbed the ladder to the presence of the one true deity here. Some of that palaver don't you know that from people even today. And so in verses 18 and 19.

He says this and I'll read it out of the new American because it unscrambled a little.

Let no one just listened let no one here is still not back off from being intimidated. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self abasement and the worship of angels taking his stand on visions he has seen inflated without cause, by his fleshly mind and then verse 19 and not holding fast to the head. There was he saying don't let anybody tell you you are disqualified from attaining the prize of spirituality because you haven't reached the level of self abasement you haven't understood the worship of angels you haven't had the right visions all they are is inflated by their own fleshly minds and the one thing you're not doing is holding fast to the head and who's the head Christ. You see, they said it's Christ.

Plus my visions plus my experiences with the Angels plus my deeper experience my entire experience. This is the heart of the heresy that was to plague the church for centuries. This became known as Gnosticism. We've defined it before. I wanted to find it just in that way by saying again. Gnosticism became a very prevalent heresy in the early church and it was the idea that to become a Christian, you had to have a greater knowledge, higher knowledge, but deeper experience with God. The came through a knowledge of various emanations, one of which was Christ various sub gods and you sort of ascended the scale to God and you reach the point of great humility and great piety when you had experience these mystical thing that's very intimidating because you don't even know what the people are talking about either. People say to me the other day Jesus came in my room and put his arm around me and talked with me and I say what you say I relate to that.

How nice.

Why you now notice what he says.

And in verse 18. He says don't let anyone deny you the prize and what is the prize of spirituality of salvation.

No love of completeness.

Don't let anybody say hey fella, you can't win the prize.

Your disqualified and the idea here is like a track meet. Don't let anybody tell you your disqualified and you will get the prize because you didn't attain a higher knowledge because you didn't have this special kind of self based pies, humility because you have that higher knowledge of the various angels because you've never had super visions so in verse 16 he said don't let the legalist condemn you in here. He says don't let the mystic condemn you. Don't let him intimidate you by what you haven't experienced and make you think that you don't really know God at all because you never had any of those experiences. There always those people running along claiming a higher level of spiritual knowledge or higher experience what it really boils down to hear Paul says is they don't believe Jesus is enough. That's what it boils down to its Jesus plus some super knowledge and that's a lie right out of hell it's as they delight in humility and then everything there so happy to be humble their own humility surrounds them. I'm so proud to be humble there like it if you ever read David Copperfield and Rick read Uriah Heep, eyes humble you sure is humility. Somebody said the sweetest loveliest flower. The blossom in Eden and the first to die has rarely bloomed since on mortal soil.

It is so frail, so delicate a thing to's gonna fit but look upon itself, and he who ventures to esteem and his proved by that single thought. He has it not there. Suppose it humility was nothing but ugly pride and they had they worshiped angels.

Verse 18, six. What is that do. There is one.

What mediator between God and man, who is it the man Christ Jesus there worshiping angels denying the one mediator William Hendrickson tells us that there is evidence at this particular time in Colossae that Angel worship was rather prevalent and we know that the Essene community lean toward Angel worship. One of their writings tells them to carefully regard and guard the names of the Angels Angel worship is forbidden in Revelation. When John tried to worship an angel twice.

The angel said get out do not worship me. I'm a creature worship God. Remember that even the Angels forbid it, and knows what else.

It says in verse 18.

They and this is hard to understand because it gets shifted around the translations taking his stand on visions he has seen your biomass and say has not seen, but the true rendering taking his stand on visions he has seen, saying, well, I'm sorry about you. I've seen things beyond what you've seen. I've comprehend things, but I know the secrets not known ordinary men. I take my stand there that's very intimidating folks that is very intimidate you feel like sort of a second-class Christian whatever had any of that. I never sold anything very intimidate super pious hypocritical self humiliated and having deeper experiences with angels seeing visions getting special revelations and were sitting around at the Bible study just trying to understand what it says on the page.

And Paul says to the to the Colossians. Don't be intimidated though. Those people take your prize away and say your disqualified from your disqualified from spirituality because you haven't had that greater experience. The truth is they are puffed up in their fleshly on the spiritual minds. That's pretty straight stuff is it they are guilty of the worst hypocrisy. There is spiritual pride and they are devoid of the true spirit. They're not holding fast to the head.

I love the is a Christian you know you need Jesus Christ you know what else you need. Nothing is all and always me.

Christ was nothing need special visions merely conversation with angels merely some kind of self-imposed placidly unity to keep a bunch of rules you'll just hold fast to the head from whom all the body by its joints and ligaments is nourished in knit together and increases with the increase of God, you just hold of the one who owes the load charts together though to be intimidated though. To let these people tell you that works in self-righteousness and false humility in Angel worship and special visions and special revelations have to be added to the sufficiency of Christ to bring you to spirituality.

That's a lie wants to dishonor Christ. That's right out of hell. Believe me people I think one of the most satanic lies going on today is the fact that when you're a Christian, you still haven't got all that's a lie that's a lie. You don't need anything else. It's all yours and you are complete in him, people come along and say well if you haven't had the baptism or if you haven't had this you haven't gone to the next level. That's a lie that is true you have received, says Peter. All things that pertain to life and godliness. Does any this is insidious in its intimidating to people where they getting cheated the Lord Jesus is the head and heals altogether and he is the one who brings about the growth he is the pituitary gland if you will, as the head contributes to the growth of the body by the pituitary gland, so they had the Lord Jesus causes the growth of the body, and he's all you need to grow to maturity to grow to spirituality. Legalism is out. Mysticism is 1/3 thing. The third thing that they tried to use to intimidate these dear Colossian Christians was asceticism disable what is that AES CE TIC ascetic dictionary defines it ascetic as somebody who lives a life of rigorous self-denial and ascetic as somebody who sells everything goes and lives in a monastery in these religious phonies in Colossae man they really had it all. I'm telling you that every heresy. There was and they were saying that the only true spirituality comes in self-denial, you know, I think the church is been intimidated by that for centuries. The only truly spiritual people are the people who have nothing sell everything and live in absolute abject poverty. This is extreme rigid abstinence. Look at verse 20.

Wherefore if you already are dead with Christ from the ABCs of the world are from the basics of human religion. Why, as though you were still living in the world are you subjecting yourself to ordinances like touch not taste not handle not stop there because your union with Christ in his death is caused you to die to the rudiments of the world.

Your union with Christ in his death has caused you to be separated from human religion and human religion is based on legalism and mysticism in self-denial always works kinds of things but he says the redeemed are set free from self-styled man-made rules designed to make you holy the world comes along as you want to be really holy give up everything, deprive yourself and go live in total abstinence and he says if you do that you're simply modeling yourself after the system of religion in the world. Now, just to give you a little background. The ascetics were really weird.

Many they believe that the body was evil.

Some regarded it a sin to take a bath because they would see their body's right very serious with their writings about that.

They felt marriage was an experiment of the serpent which separates from the Lord. Why, because you would see somebody else's body. Athanasius boasted of the devotion of Anthony who never changed his vest or washed his feet and that was praiseworthy.

Fortunately live in a society of other people who didn't do it either Antonius Antonius proudly related that such was the holy asceticism of Simeon sty latest that when he walked. Vernon dropped off his body. That's how holy was some early church fathers in a fit of asceticism, castrated themselves as an active self-denial seeking by such rights to attain holiness stupid. I'm not saying that there should never be any self-denial, if God so desires that you and I live like Hudson Taylor to accomplish what he did and to be God's man in the place that he was then that's glorious but he never did it to attain spirituality did because that was God's calling. That's the difference. Now I want you to notice verse 21 touch not taste not handle not you almost give like they would studs not taste not handle not see that's not spiritual. No more oil. No more wine no more meat no contact with a stranger, no touching a religious inferior unit of these ascetic that's right. Did you know that the ascetics were not allowed to touch a religious inferior simple diet. Simple clothing necessary for spirituality. It's only way to be spiritual first 22 E. is all last double parish with using it's all a matter of the commandments and doctrines of men. It's all human stuff, why are you attributing inherent value to what is passing. God doesn't expect all of us to live in poverty if that's where God calls you and that's what God has for you.

Glorious. That's his plan. If God chooses to give you things like he gave Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Job and bless you keep that in mind, if God chooses to allow you to be rich. He doesn't say it is sinful to be rich. He says make sure in first Timothy six but if you're rich, you do good and share your riches. See isn't what you have it or not, it's how you hold it but spirituality isn't determined by that is in Christ, plus poverty that makes it is in Christ was never taken a bath missing Christ was going to live in a monastery. It is in Christ, plus anything they're all in the parish all that stuff just the commandments and teachings of manages human religion again. Verse 20 30. This is really difficult to translate. So I'm just going to give you my translation no version, but just the Greek with a little broadening, so you understand that all regulations of this kind have a reputation for wisdom. They intimidate, they appear to be really the divine wisdom look at this. He keeps all rules. He has the higher visions he communes with the Angels receives revelations keys in abject salve abasement in poverty and it looks to be so good because of self-made humility and unsparing treatment of the body, but it is no value whatever it serves only to satisfy what the flesh you know it. Is it simply and only carnality you're trying to glorify yourself is the one who can either save or make himself spiritual self-styled ritual self-styled mysticism self-styled poverty for the sake of apparent piety and holiness just panders the flesh, these people listened to religion is godless, for they worship themselves there. Humility is fake because it's nothing but masking of spiritual pride in their self-denial is a false standard because it's an effort to make themselves more holy than other people and in all of those exercises, they serve only to indulge their carnal flesh.

When the Colossians were being intimidated by some of you and I be so you mean we have in our world today. Yeah right.

B's ascetics maybe not quite so common in our society. But it's interesting to think about it. Dulles owner close by drawing it up to the day and what I say now I want you to think about the prayer about try to evaluate along with in our modern day when someone comes along and says do you spirituality is Christ plus external behavior.

Christ plus what you eat what you drink, ritualistic, narrowminded, legalistic, super hyper fundamentalist kind of thing that's very intimidating off.

I can remember my own background being a situation where I was greatly intimidated where I became actually paranoid almost about the things I did because I felt that those were the only things that were validating my spirituality a guy can anyone time. II told you this but it fits here and I'll tell Teagan and he said to me you're not spiritual by studying on a spiritual is because you were affirming on her forget that I see what is let me be spiritual. How do you know I don't spend all day every day and all night praying is this spiritual people or permit, but I went through that kind of legalism.

I know what it's like and you don't need to be intimidated by that another are some things that are real moral issues, but you need to have some narrow person come in, intimidate you and force your spirituality outside, but what happened.

Secondly, spirituality. Some people say today is Christ plus a special vision or Christ, plus a special experience. I went why get so tired of this is to hear the have you experienced a deeper life. I say what is it, the deeper life. Why did you ever understand what they're talking about, and boy you know I went through my some of my college days with real anxiety in my heart because I couldn't experience the deeper life. What is it in summary, get up, the testimony is all since I had the second blessing. Or since I realize this certain thing I've experienced the higher walk. I didn't know what they were talking about and I feel like I'm just doing the same old thing and some people are hired. Some people are deeper and I'm just here. I went through that I really did. I'm trying to tell you some folks I will forget in the message but I'm trying to tell you what Paul said listen, you have Christ you have everything is all right.

You have his word and will you need to have his spirit. We have all you need. Don't anybody tell you need add to it. A system of works righteousness, you need to add to special visions and revelations you need to add to it ascetic kind of living self-denial, throwing everything you won't be absolutely poor if you're looking for any of your spirituality in those areas you just bypassed and I would add this don't you be guilty of intimidating somebody else either. Don't you think that for the most part, we tend to intimidate people by what we say we tend to encourage them by what we are well is praise God, help us to teach the word so that the body of Christ is protected from those within it, who don't know the word help those Christians who can't make the right decision because they just don't know your truth somehow to be taught raise up more teachers, more faithful pastors could teach the truth with love. Help us to keep your church pure the way you want it give you praise in Jesus name. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary continuing his study here on grace to you titled complete in Christ, John, today we saw that legalism teaches that you need works for salvation, but it's possible even for a believer to fall into a kind of legalistic thinking like that of the Pharisees were they thought if they could just do good things be good on the outside. That would make God like them more. Do you think there's something in the human heart that tends in that direction.

Yeah. And I think where it comes out explicitly is in the book of Galatians where Paul actually says, having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect in the flesh and in other words he was saying you began in the spirit your real Christians you are regenerated and now you're behaving legalistic holy right.

This is inconsistent.

Legalism is doing the right thing for the wrong reason. So you could say it's with right to read my Bible but I'm I'm reading my Bible because it's my duty to do that and maybe I want to make somebody think I'm spiritual or maybe you want to earn favor with God.

Rather than saying I'm reading my Bible because I relish the opportunity to commune with God and his word. You might say I don't do certain behaviors.

Maybe because I don't want people to see me do the more I want people to think I'm virtuous that's very different than saying I don't want to do anything is going to dishonor Christ so difference between legalism and true spirituality is not necessarily in the act itself. It's in the motive behind the acting if you do the right things without the right motive. That's legalism in the another way to look at it is this the apostle Paul says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Now those are all attitudes right Lovejoy presets all attitude. So where the Spirit is at work where the Holy Spirit is really sanctifying the heart. The initial responses those attitudes of love, joy, peace, jealous goodness, faith, because self-control out of that flows obedience where you have the act, without the attitude you have legalism so that's why Paul says walk in the spirit cultivate the spirit be filled with the spirit.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in other words, use the means of grace to access the spiritual truths that are going to motivate you in the heart and when your heart is filled with joy. Obedience is the easiest thing of all. But legalism is simply the external conducting itself in a way that has bypassed the heart and the heart is what God is after right and friend the truth. John is looking at in his current study are truths that will strengthen your heart and show you how to serve the Lord with the power he provides. So I encourage you to pick up the complete in Christ study guide. It can be a great help to you and your family. Contact us today. Our phone number is 855 grace for you can shop This study guide helps you see from Scripture Christ incomparable glory showing you why he is sufficient for all your needs. It's excellent for your own study and devotional reading and perhaps even better as a curriculum for your Bible study again to order the complete in Christ. Study guide.

Call us at 855 grace go to the website TTY.and remember at our website, you can download any of John's sermons for free an MP3 and transcript. You can also purchase the MacArthur New Testament commentary.

There are 34 volumes in all and that covers every New Testament book and the MacArthur study Bible is also available in three English traditions in several non-English translations.

It's hard to find better prices than through grace to you and ship for free so to place your order to or call our toll-free number 855 grace now for John MacArthur until Johnson, thanks for making grace to you part of your day be here tomorrow when John examines the dangers of disobeying God's word as John continues his study titled in Christ with another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you

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