Paul's Epistle to the Colossians Part 6: The Indwelling Word
Presenting the last two segments of Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, we made digressions to discuss several things which Paul may not have addressed explicitly, but which certainly are related to Paul’s message. The first of these addressed substance pharisaism. There are many substance pharisees who seek to judge other men for partaking of things which Yahweh’s law does not proscribe. Some of these things are a part of Yahweh’s very creation, and therefore He provided them. So if our God provided them, and did not prohibit them in His law, how could we justify prohibiting them? How could we condemn men for using such substances? The truth is that we cannot justly prohibit our brethren from anything which the law of our God does not prohibit. If we do, then we imagine ourselves to be as gods, like the high priests that Paul had scathingly criticized in his second epistle to the Thessalonians. They were sitting in the temple of God, exalting themselves above everything that was truly godly, and imagined themselves to be as gods. When man makes his own laws rather than seeking to uphold Yahweh’s law, he becomes an idolater because he is certainly not God. Yahweh did not give men laws as a supplement to man’s law. Rather, He gave men laws to live by, and when they do, they are free of the tyranny of men.
Another sort of pharisaism which we addressed was word pharisaism. The word pharisees insist upon controlling the lexicons of others. So where Paul had advised at Ephesians 4:29, for instance, to “let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth”, as one translation has it, they imagine that to refer to literal words rather than to lies, flattery, threats, provocations, ribaldry, statements which are actually damaging regardless of what sort of words are used to express them. Likewise, here in Colossians 3:8 Paul admonished against “filthy communications”, or as we would translate the phrase, “abusive language”, or perhaps “shameful language”. The shallow, Judaized denominational Christian imagines these passages to be talking about certain words when they are really admonishing men not to lie to one another, not to slander one another, not to blaspheme God, not to use flattery and deceit, or any of the other things which men say and do to one another whether they be done with language that is "nice" or "naughty". But these passages do not advocate word pharisaism.