It’s the United States of America, year 2011. Gone are the old paths of wisdom, of knowing that this life is fleeting, that this life matters. Gone are the prophets who once woke us from our reverie, who poured the cold water on the philosophy of man before he got too full of his own ideas. Gone are the teachers who instructed us in the realities of our temporary existence, who made clear the facts of what we are put here to do.
All this has been replaced by facades. Counterfeits, designed to mimic real life and give us all the warm fuzzy feelings but leave out all the bad ones. We self medicate to avoid the pain of reality, whether that be through drugs, movies, sex, video games, or our own imaginations, full of visions of the former. Lies all dedicated to one thing: to make us forget what this world really is. To make us forget who we really are.
No, this isn’t the plot primer for some new movie, this is reality – what is really happening. Of course, for some of you, reality and movies are really the same thing at this point.
The age of enlightenment is over, the age of entertainment begun.
And speaking of entertainment, have you ever seen the movie, “Surrogates”? If not, go rent it.
I guess it’s supposed to be an action/drama (Bruce Willis is the star, that kind of gives it away), but to me it played more like a horror movie. Folks literally living through machines – much as we do today – freaks me out a bit.
But the most freaky was the wife of “Tom”, the main character, who would rather live in a world of her own make-believe than join Tom in what is sometimes a painful reality. Unable to face the truth, she chooses instead to exist as a phantom, not even allowing her husband to really see her except as her robot “surrogate”.
At once, it’s both a statement on hiding yourself from those who care about you and would love to help you, and also on the ultimate destruction awaiting those who would live in light of a different “truth” than the one and only real one. We see this all around us today, but what did we expect? The children of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories have grown up into the “Choose Your Own Reality” lifestyle.
I know I said at the outset here that the prophets and teachers are all gone, but that’s not completely accurate. We still have their words, which are really God’s words spoken through them. One of those teachers, a man named Paul, warned us sternly about choosing our own truth.
In Romans ch. 1 he tells us that those who choose their own truth, exchanging the truth of God for a lie, stand condemned (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:8,12). That truth, as Paul makes abundantly clear over and over (and over) again in his letters, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g. Ephesians 1:13, Colossians 1:5,6). But Paul knew the heart of men, and he was well aware that a man will eagerly choose his own “philosophy of life” over and above Christ, and him crucified, thus making a mockery of the cross.
For the time is coming when people will not endure soundteaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
– 2 Timothy 4:3-4
His warning is explicit:
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy andempty deceit, according to human tradition, according to theelemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
– Colossians 2:8
But then, the question is, how do we recognize this falsehood? How do we know when we are being taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit? The answer is in the same verse: “and not according to Christ.”
In other words, if the truth you are hearing from someone (or even you own head) is not in accordance with Christ – if it denies his atoning work on the cross or, worse, if it denies his very person, that he is fully man and fully God – you are listening to false teaching.
“Forin him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily…”
– Colossians 2:9
This false teaching may sound all well and good, and your itching ears may like what they hear, but God, in the flesh, on the cross, is the Gospel, and anything other than that is a lie, and to listen to it is to be led away from the truth.
But in spite of my warnings, in spite of Paul’s warnings, why do some of you yet fall away and follow after deceiving spirits?
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
– Galatians 1:6-7
I fear for you, dear brothers and sisters, some of whom have already accepted a different truth than what was revealed to the Apostles.
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
– 2 Corinthians 11:3-4
Don’t be like Maggie, Tom’s wife from the movie, and turn your head from what is true towards a counterfeit and a fraud. Even though it makes it easy for you, even though your heart yearns for the lie, because the lie would mean you would not have to break with your family, or face your own sin – that other truth is death.
I urge you, listen to no one who denies Christ, his atoning work on the cross, his humanity, nor especially his deity. This is the essence of the Gospel.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received,let him be accursed.
– Galatians 1:8-9
Seek not after man’s truth, empty, vain, speculative philosophy that it is.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
– Galatians 1:10-12
Turn away from the speculative abstract philosophy; turn towards the reality: Christ.