The Apostle Paul warns us against being led astray by a man. “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words” (Colossians 2:4). Verses 8 and 18 thunder the same warning! A man can easily lead us astray “with enticing words” if we aren’t spiritually alert.
Paul was absent because he was in jail (verse 5). Today, Herbert W. Armstrong is absent because of death. Still, we are admonished to remain steadfast in the faith. We must learn to follow God—not men.
Rooted in Christ
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). We are told to keep ourselves rooted in what we have received in the past. At the time this was written, the Laodiceans were getting away from what Christ had taught them through Paul. The end-time Laodiceans are getting away from what Christ taught them through Mr. Armstrong.
We must be “rooted and built up in him [Christ].” Our command is to hold fast to what Christ has taught us! The big focus of our lives must be to get “rooted” in that truth. There is great danger in this area. This is the area where thousands of God’s people are being deceived today!
It is virtually impossible to uproot a strong tree. The roots are planted so firmly in the ground that a violent storm can’t uproot it. This is what God says we must be like spiritually. Our eternal life is at stake, so we must be deeply rooted in God’s truth!
In this end time, that means we must be well grounded in all of Mr. Armstrong’s major books. The church that he founded has discontinued all of them! We must master all of the truths that Christ established through Mr. Armstrong. The Laodiceans are doing just the opposite.
The Philadelphians also must be grounded in what God is revealing to the Philadelphia Church of God today. That certainly includes the centerpiece of our literature, Malachi’s Message. That book is what brings members into this Church. God REVEALED that message!
It’s so easy to continually seek “new truth” instead of getting ourselves deeply rooted into the foundational truths—“as ye have been taught.” This is where the Laodiceans failed in the first century, and this is where they are failing today! Because they are not “rooted and built up” in Christ, they get deceived and drawn into worldly pursuits.
Deceit Through Philosophy
“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” (Colossians 2:8). The Laodiceans are deceived by vain philosophy and wrong education of this world.
Instead of being “rooted and built up,” the Laodiceans destroy what has been built by Christ. This happened anciently and was prophesied to happen in the end time. And it has happened!
Here is one example of what I mean. The Worldwide Church of God (wcg) discontinued The United States and Britain in Prophecy after debating whether that book was God-inspired truth or only speculation. Of course, you can prove it is God’s truth. And it doesn’t need to be debated—just believed! That book is not flawed. Their faith is flawed!
As part of their deception, for a while wcg leaders acted like they might bring the book back into circulation. But prophecy in Revelation 3:7 discusses only the Philadelphians, not the Laodiceans, as having the “key of David,” which is the understanding of prophecy—especially about David’s throne and Israel. The discontinuing of that book was another major Laodicean act. They are not “rooted” in Jesus Christ but in their own ideas.
Paul warns us not to let a man “spoil” us through philosophy. Individuals become the deceivers’ spoil, or victims, by allowing themselves to be turned away from what they have been taught. Vain philosophy turns them from what they should have been rooted in.
Listen to what K.J. Stavrinides, a wcg scholar, wrote in an article about the trinity in the January-February 1991 Reviews You Can Use: “[T]he Worldwide Church of God has made a clear distinction between issues that are strictly biblical, and issues that are essentially theological or philosophical. The former are easily accessible through the Bible in any translation, while the latter require special training or expertise” (emphasis mine). When you get into the theology or philosophy issues, you need “special training or expertise.”
Then the wcg leaders instructed people to look to their scholars. They would have you believe the laymen are just too incompetent to grasp such issues!
That is what the Laodicean ministers said anciently! The people believed them and were led astray. Now we see history repeating itself. Satan is using the same strategy again. Why not? It worked so effectively before.
The word philosophy means “love of wisdom.” However, it’s wisdom of this world—inspired by Satan the devil!
‘Rudiments of the World’
Vain philosophy is “after the rudiments of the world” (Colossians 2:8). What does that mean? The New Testament in Today’s English Version translates that expression as “ruling spirits of the universe.” Most commentaries give a very similar meaning. Here is how Thayer’s Lexicon defines “after the rudiments of the world”: “to invade, of evils coming into existence among men and beginning to exert their power.”
Verse 18 explains it in context: “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” The Laodiceans were guilty of “worshiping angels.” Angels are not to be worshiped. Only God should be worshiped. However, this is referring to fallen angels, or demons!
Many of God’s own people in the first century and the last century turned to worshiping demons! In verse 8, Paul is discussing a demon attack through “philosophy and vain deceit,” or wrong spiritual education!
Christ built a strong work through Mr. Armstrong that spanned the globe. Mr. Armstrong was used to establish three dynamic colleges for God that produced abundant fruits over several decades.
Mr. Armstrong was used by God for 55 years to do the most powerful Work of God in 2,000 years! Now the Laodicean leaders are teaching “philosophy and vain deceit” in place of God’s truth. Paul calls that being “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” (verse 18). It’s worshiping human vanity and demons!
“Intruding” in verse 18 means “to invade, make a hostile incursion into” (Thayer’s Lexicon). The Laodicean churches of the past and present were invaded by Satan. Those churches today are still under satanic attack. And Satan uses men! “Let no man beguile you … [as he is] intruding into those things which he hath not seen ….” Most texts omit “not.” The demons are inspiring men to invade or intrude “into those things which he has seen”! It’s as if the Laodicean leaders are invading God’s holy of holies. They were a part of God’s highest inner circle and are now betraying that trust!
The wcg has rejected all of Mr. Armstrong’s books, his strong prophecy message and all the major doctrines on which the Church was founded. Those top Laodicean leaders have intruded into and changed many of God’s truths which they professed to believe when Mr. Armstrong was alive. Anybody should be able to see their blatant hypocrisy!