“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
The Bible is filled with warnings, and our text today is given to warn us. The word “beware” is calling us “to caution, to take heed.” There is a real and imminent danger that we need to be alerted about.
The warning is that men might “spoil you.” The word “spoil” describes being led away as booty after combat. The spoils of battle are those things that the enemy gains as a result of winning a skirmish. We are indeed in a war between good and evil, between truth and error, between God and Satan. God does not want us to be the spoils of battle.
How are men spoiled? Concerning this spiritual warfare, the Scripture teaches us that the weapons that strive to defeat us are ideas or beliefs. Our text uses this language, “philosophy, and vain deceit, after the traditions of men,” and “rudiments of the world.” People become casualties of war through deception and believing things that are not true. The enemy would prefer that we hold to “traditions of men” rather than the Word of God. Many people are being spoiled in our day. The teaching of evolution instead of the truth of creation is spoiling children. False prophets are spoiling simple followers who accept their traditions that are not based upon the truths of the Bible. Bitterness and unforgiveness are spoiling those who choose to hold to grudges rather than accept God’s grace to forgive. Humanism, secularism, and materialism are spoiling multitudes.
God wants us to be warned. A little leaven has the power and potential to leaven the whole lump. To avoid being spoiled, we are to build our lives on Christ, not on the wisdom of this world. The verse that precedes our text tells us to be “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught” (Colossians 2:7).
People are spoiled through error when they do not know, or have not believed, the truth. Because they are not established in the faith, they are susceptible to false teaching. The great battle that is being described is a war of words. False imaginations, unscriptural ideas, and lies against the Word of God are the weapons of the enemy. To prevent being spoiled, we must arm ourselves with the truth, recognizing and resisting every falsehood.