Philosophy 101: The Simple Life Without Christ (Colossians #39)

Text: Colossians 2:8-9

This verse reminds me of the BEWARE OF DOG sign. Beware means there is an imminent danger. Philosophy is a legitimate threat according to the Holy Spirit of God. It’s not limited to intellectuals.

In Acts 17:16 Paul runs into philosophers at Athens. They represent the two ends of the philosophical spectrum – the Epicureans and the Stoics. We’ll explore one philosophy tonight to see how seductive it is and how much of it you probably already believe and live by. So when the Holy Spirit of God through Paul says BEWARE of philosophy, he’s not talking about some college class most people sleep through. He’s talking about a real way of thinking about things that is a threat to you pleasing God.

The Art of Happiness

  • The Epicurean philosophy is to do what brings the most pleasure, but not necessarily immediate pleasure. The highest priority and the chief end of Epicureans is a simple pleasant life.
  • Philosophy says, “Pleasure is the first good. It is the beginning of every choice and every aversion.
  • Instead of asking what is good, Epicurus asked what makes you happy.
    • He observed that from birth people are basically pleasure seekers.
    • He also observed that some pleasures come with hooks in them and need to be moderated.
    • He said money doesn’t bring lasting pleasure because he saw plenty of miserable people with money.
    • He said sex doesn’t bring lasting pleasure because he saw plenty of fornicators and adulterers whose lives were bitter and ugly.
    • He said luxury doesn’t bring lasting pleasure because he saw many luxurious and angry people.
    • What Epicurus’ philosophy boiled down to is peace of mind; this is what brings ultimate pleasure.
    • He said there are natural and necessary desires such as food. This desire is limited such as when you’re full. He said there are natural but unnecessary desires such as a juicy steak or a piece of bread. You have to have food to survive, but you don’t have to have a steak. Then he said there are vain desires. These have no natural limits such as greed, covetousness, fame, power, money.
    • His ideal society was the commune he created with a simple diet, simple things, organic, living in harmony with natural laws.
    • His ideas were as Paul said were thoroughly grounded in the world – the rudiments of the world.
  • Paul’s real conflict, as he said at the beginning of the chapter, was trying to keep the Colossians and Laodiceans from being ruined by this thinking. 

The spoiling of God’s people

  • So you’re probably asking what is so bad about this? It all sounds reasonable. That’s good. So you see how seductive it is. And that philosophy is very tempting.
  • This philosophy doesn’t begin with Jesus Christ. Doesn’t consider what God may want out of one’s life. Doesn’t consider what the work of God is or how to participate in it.
  • In this philosophy of life there is no:
    • Beginning (doesn’t matter where things came from)
    • Purpose (whatever is important to you)
    • End (create your own destiny)
    • Hope (Living for the next simple pleasure.)
    • Reason to live (Find out what I enjoy and do it.)
  • When it came to God Epicurus believed the fear of God brought unpleasantness into a person’s life and it was unjustified. He famously said: If God is willing to prevent evil, but isn’t able to, then he is not all powerful. But if he is able to prevent evil, but not willing to then He is evil. If He is able and willing then where does evil come from. And if He is not able or willing then why do we call him God?
  • No belief beyond the world. Only matter and space exist. No afterlife. No need to look for any reward. Just live in such a way as to get the most enjoyment out of this life. Live for today. He said you are born once and there is no second birth. For all eternity we shall no longer be.
  • If a soul would knowingly or unknowingly adopt this philosophy of a simple pleasant life, that soul would die in their sins and be cast into Hell to await the White Throne judgment. Luke 12:16-31
  • If a child of God would knowingly or unknowingly adopt this philosophy of a simple pleasant life, they would find that everything they attempted to bring them piece of mind in this world was actually found in Jesus Christ.
    • At best, they’d forfeit any Fatherly praise from God because of their ignoring Jesus Christ.
    • At worst, they’d find out they were never Christians like they thought they were. They’re pleasure seekers who used the name of Jesus when it was convenient.

The solution is Christ

  • Look at verse 9. Complete in Christ.
  • Those blinded by materialism have received counsel – Revelation 3:15-22