We like to think we can live in this world as believers and just keep our twitching mouse noses clean. If we reject sin and choose to do good we’ll be OK, because the world and its methods are simply neutral…right? Sadly it’s not quite as simple as that: the world stands in active opposition to us. The enemy has designed it as a trap.

Colossians 2 MCV

20  Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of the world, why, as if still alive to the world, do you follow its rules:

Some of the more modern translations, fooled by today’s use of ‘elemental’ to mean ‘supernatural’ have assumed that Paul is talking about spiritual forces or powers, but he is simply referring to the way the world, as Satan’s system, functions ‘without’ God. Clearly nothing actually works without God in any real sense, but Satan’s suggestion is that we can get along just fine without God by ignoring Him—by pretending He doesn’t exist.

We don’t “die with Christ to the basic principles of the world” by mistake—this is part of our rescue. The point, in this context, is in order that the world’s useless methods are no longer remotely applicable. We live in the world but we are dead to the world, so the world’s methods no longer apply to us.

21  “Do not handle! Do not taste! Don’t even touch!”?

These rules are developed according to worldly principles by deceived believers as flesh-based workarounds, attempting to improve themselves by making and following their own rules, and earn some credit with God! In particular, this refers to the principle of having no fellowship with heathen practices. Things included would be both sexual practices, often in a religious context, and certain kinds of ‘forbidden’ foods, so abstinence and the avoidance of certain foods and drinks were targeted.

22  Use of these will lead to moral decay, just like all man’s tenets and teachings.

All the translations miss this. They are fooled by the word order in the Greek and assume that either the ‘rules’ will perish from use, or that these rules refer to ‘things’ which will perish from use. Neither idea makes any sense at all.

Paul’s point is that relying on these fallen directives will actively corrupt us, and that all worldly principles and learning designed to ‘improve’ the sinful man, to remove our corruption, will have the same effect. We cannot live by faith and rules, and “everything which is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23), and therefore corrupts. What we are supposed to do with these practices is ignore them, not make up rules to follow.

23  Such maxims may indeed seem wise, with their contrived religious practices and humility, and their brutality to the body, but they have no value against the indulgences of the flesh.

Using the power of the flesh, as we have here, to combat the power of the flesh, is ultimately doomed to failure: the more we use the flesh for anything, the stronger it gets. What we are supposed to be doing is consigning the flesh to death, so we must turn to the Lord’s provision by faith and allow our flesh to simply die by denying it. We accept our death with Christ by getting baptised, ie, buried with Him, and we cling to that position of death throughout our life in Christ, refusing to act from the flesh.

1 Corinthians 7 MCV

29     But this I say brethren: the time is short so from now on those who have wives should live as though they don’t;

Paul is responding to various questions from the Corinthians about marriage and related concerns. He is not here releasing married men to philander, he’s saying “don’t be absorbed in these worldly concerns at the expense of God’s program.”

30     those who weep as though they didn’t; those who rejoice as though they didn’t; those who purchase something as though it were not theirs to use;

31     and they who deal with the world, without using it, for the essence of the world is to deceive.

All the other translations tell us that the fashion, or way of the world, is passing away. Presumably they are hoping that this is the effect of having the gospel out there, but the Greek word means “mislead” or “lead away,” and a realistic assessment of history shows that if anything, the essence of the world, as antagonistic to the things of God, is getting stronger, not passing away. Its use clearly does, however, lead us away from the truth of God, deceiving us to our destruction.

Dealing with the world is as dangerous as using our flesh, so God has directed us to have nothing to do with its methods, and always remain terribly aware that it will burn us if we get too close. It’s all about humbly placing every aspect of our lives utterly into God’s hands in prayer to provide and direct, and not using worldly methods to try to control anything for ourselves, but trusting Him to have our best interests at heart always.

1 Corinthians 1 MCV

20     Where is the wise man? Where is the educated? Where’s today’s man of reason? Hasn’t God shown that the wisdom of this world is stupidity?

When it comes to finding God or proving His existence or knowing Him, the wisdom and knowledge of this world is completely useless. God has gone further and, through the cross, shown that the world’s wisdom and learning are simply stupidity. Most translations state that God made the wisdom of the world into foolishness: God didn’t make it stupidity, it always was.

1 Corinthians 2 MCV

6       Yet to spiritual adults we are speaking wisdom; but not the wisdom of this world or its rulers, which is of no value;

The word katargeō which gives us “which is of no value” applies to the wisdom, not the rulers, as all other translations insist, as it means ‘to bring to nought, to make void, to cause to cease, to annul, to abolish,’ etc: all referring to things rather than people. Where it refers to the body (being done away with as an instrument of sin, in Romans 6:6) it means the body as a thing, not as a person.

1 Corinthians 2 MCV

12     So, we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God, so that we may understand all that God willingly gives us.

If we are to avoid Satan’s carefully disguised trap, we cannot use the world’s methods at all.

Bless you folks, Geoff >ᴥ<


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