“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8).
In the above scripture and letter to the Colossian church Paul is writing to them of the inward life, encouraging them in the Christ life they had received — to walk in Him, and to be rooted and built up in Him. He is warning us of philosophies and empty deceits, based on traditions of men, and the basic principles of the world that speak to us of humanistic things, mystical things, and outward things that are without real eternal substance.
Christmas time is a great example of how Christ has been brought down to a superficial man-made and mystical level by the traditions of men.
Much like today and throughout the centuries of time, Christianity can too easily slip into an outward-ness, a mere form of the power that it was meant to reflect and transmit through Christ. “Don’t be cheated”, Paul says, from the simplicity and completeness of the inward Christ life. There are many things that seek to rob, steal, and plunder our love, affection, and holy intimate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and none more evident than this time of year. Christmas trees, stockings, and mistletoes, Santa Claus, and his reindeers, jingle bells and the one horse open sleigh tend to nurture warm fuzzy feelings that make us happy but hide the life altering revelation of the Holy One.
It is not just the philosophies and empty deceits, included within them these human traditions of Christmas we need to beware of, but there are even good and acceptable things, which while having their proper place in the Christian life, have a tendency to cheat us from the real person and mind of Christ. For the true Christ-professing Christian, such things as buildings, budgets, programs, projects, meetings, committees, or other things that concern the church system apart from the mind of Christ, have the potential to dry up the real heart of the Christ life. Often it’s these very things that rob us of the hallowing intimacy which we are to experience with the Lord. These things although useful, must be kept in their proper perspective lest they dilute the vision of Jesus Himself.
When Christ was born, a hellish opposition immediately arose to attempt to kill and destroy Him (Mt. 2:13, 16). Likewise when the corporate counterpart of the Christ, the Man-child Company is brought forth near the end of this age (Rev. 12) there will be yet another most violent release of hellish opposition. “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).
Everything of this world order is in direct opposition to the Christ being revealed personally in reality and power.
The return of the Lord will once again signal the removal of all that is earthly, temporal, and of man, so that only the eternal order of Jesus Christ and His kingdom remains. In the millennial reign of Christ on the earth I don’t believe we will be celebrating Christmas for He will be personally among us in reality and in power.
When Christ returns He is coming for the formation of Christ in us. It is Him in us that He will recognize. His words, “I never knew you,” and “I don’t know you” were spoken to so-called ministers and foolish virgins who were supposedly doing the work of God and who laid claim to His name (Mt. 7:23) (Mt. 25:12), but somehow the Christ was not found in them. Somehow their form of Christianity had replaced Christ Himself. Beware of the forms and festivities that hide Him from us.
So once again the question beckons us: How much of Christ is in your Christianity? Do you know Him or are all the Christmas traditions blocking your view?
This Christmas series contains modified excerpts from my book, The Real Jesus. It is a book that I’d love to put into the hands of many during this holiday season. It would make a great gift.
If this article has been a blessing to you please share it. And may God make you a blessing during this Christmas season as you exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.