In preparation for the next study for the Wednesday night prayer meeting, I’ve been spending a lot of time looking into the prevalent ideology that has swept the nation and the western world. It’s a philosophy that has been decades in the making and has made its biggest advance in the past five or so years. It’s an ideology that has made its way into the Christian Church at various levels and is being championed by many authors. It’s often referred to as “wokeness” or simply, woke. The term carries the concept of one becoming awakened to the reality of things and particularly the oppression that certain groups have suffered at the hands of oppressors. It’s a complex and vast philosophy that involves all areas of life and relationships from the public to the private. My purpose in this short article is not to look at wokeness, but to be reminded that we as believers have been warned not to be taken captive by such worldly teaching.
Paul, in Colossians 2:8, gives a warning: “See to it that 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 word for philosophy literally means “the love and pursuit of wisdom”. Wisdom that is man-centered and separated from God is empty; though promising much, it delivers nothing. It appears to have value and, on the surface, seems to be right, but in the end is empty and deceptive. There are many who profess to be wise but, in reality, are fools as they reject the truth of Christ.
The idea that Paul is speaking of is the taking of an individual as a captive and a slave. This person is now under the power of someone else to do their bidding. The means by which this capture is accomplished is through deception, empty concepts and philosophies. These ideas promise much but are devoid of anything of value. They are lies that are meant to deceive and, if one is not careful, can fool you. That’s the thing about deception: it makes sense! It seems to be wise and may even use Christian words, but when looked at closely and compared to truth one can see the error.
This does not happen by accident. We are all responsible for watching over our hearts and minds. Proverbs 4:23 says. “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” I must make the effort to not allow traditions of men and the elementary principles of the world to lead me away from simple devotion to Christ. That involves knowing the truth, such as understanding that God is the Creator and owner of all that exists. He is the One who makes the rules and standards. We are not masters of our own destinies. Truth such as understanding that the root cause of the evil in the world is sin, not skin color. That all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. That I must first be reconciled to God before I can be reconciled to man. Truth that is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As Paul states in Ephesians, we are at war with spiritual forces that seek to destroy. So the reality of what we are facing is summed up well by a quote from Erwin Lutzer: “Our battle is not against two competing moral systems; our battle is against two competing Gods.” The god of this world who has been allowed, for a short time, to run amuck, who has been defeated at the cross, and the God of the universe Who is over all and has already won the battle. So, our responsibility is to keep our hearts. To avoid being captured by the ideologies of this world.
I’ll end with this: “But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11). Let’s not be ignorant, but alert.