Friday, November 13, 2009
Paul wrote in Colossians: See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Col 2:8
So what are these human traditions, and basic principles that Paul was talking about...?
First, we must understand the time frame he was writing in, and to whom... Paul was writing to a greek church, in Colosse and the hollow and deceptive philosophy and traditions had to do with celebrating rituals, and Gnosticism (a form of secret wisdom, which also decried all things physical) see http://www.answers.com/gnosticism for more information on this heresy.
Second, The point that Paul made frequently in his writings, preaching, and life, is that just as he was not justified in God's sight when he was a zealot in his Judaism, no one can be, or is, justified by works, or by doing anything... We are justified in God's sight ONLY because and THRU Jesus' Suffering, Death on a cross and Resurrection. God has provided grace (unmerited [undeserved] favor) to all who would call out to Him, and admit that we cannot make it to Him, thru our works, efforts, or any other thing, except the substitutionary death of Christ.
No one understood this more than Paul, who as Saul (his name before becoming Christian) was a leader in the Jewish religion, and was responsible for the death of many Christians, because the Christians were preaching heresy (according to Judaism). Christianity was teaching that Jesus IS God, and that He was raised from the dead.
So, how does this relate to the theme of this blog, and what makes Christianity different from all other religions? Simple, all religions (except Christianity) have to do with man's efforts to reach and to worship some deity, or become divine. Christianity has to do with God's efforts to reach out to, and save humanity from our own sins, and restore His relationship with us. He created us, we rebelled (and still rebel) and yet God loves us, and sent His son, (Himself incarnate [the concept of the Trinity is too much for many people to handle]) to be the sacrifice required to pay the penalty for our sins, and restore fellowship with Him.
Therefore, when the Colossians were being led astray by these philosophies and traditions, Paul had to straighten them out by getting them focused again on Christ.