Avoiding Spiritual Traps


prison wallOne of the reasons many people aren’t interested in Jesus is because they see people trapped by religion. People who seem addicted to spiritual activity or rules who practice religion in a way that bugs everyone around them. People who restrain themselves with incredible discipline yet lack real peace, joy, impact and sometime humility in their lives.

They see people who have fallen in spiritual traps and they instinctively know they don’t want that for themselves. Who would!!

Recognizing these traps is one thing, avoiding them is even better! Colossians 2:16-23 shows us three timeless spiritual traps that steal freedom and kill joy. These traps deceive by sending us down a road that will never lead to the deep peace of Christ. See which one is most likely to trip you up and make plans to avoid it.

#1  Avoid the Better Rules Trap.

Col 2:16-17 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 

Some believe spiritual life & growth are measured by how well we keep the right rules. This thinking creates insiders & outsiders on the wrong criteria. What they really do is mixing (or even replace) of biblical instruction with manmade rules. Like making a rule against dating to avoid premarital sex. This fails to recognize the difference between guiding principles and clear commands.

Even the OT laws were designed to point to Christ. Jesus fulfills the Law so we can focus on just following Him.

Don’t walk around feeling inferior or pressured by others. Ask yourself if some direction is really from Jesus or if it is something else. Trust Jesus’ direction in the face of other people’s rules every time.

#2 Avoid the Better Experience Trap.

Col 2:18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

Some believe spiritual growth comes through mystical & emotional experiences. They might believe they are more spiritual because they: speak in tongues, travel to holy land, practice fasting, participate in special retreats, read the King James Version, experience “perfect worship with the perfect songs on the perfect instruments in the perfect way.” This list could go on endlessly.

The grass is always greener somewhere else. Emotional mystical experiences can be like a drug.  You keep needing something more, better, edgier, cooler etc. You keep looking for something outside you to trigger something inside of you. In the end, this leads away from what matters most! We seek lesser things instead of holding to Jesus.

Experiences can be good unless we confuse them with Jesus Himself.

It is not the experience or lack of it that keeps or connects you to God. It is your heart! Christ contains everything needed for spiritual health & strength. Choose to draw near to Him even without the perfect song, setting, atmosphere, conditions. His word promises that when we draw near to Him, he will draw near to us.

#3 Avoid the Better Discipline Trap.

Col 2:20-23 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” …23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence

Some believe spiritual maturity comes through serious self-discipline. We create our own kind of super spiritual training. It might include things like no food, no debt, no cable TV, no devil music, no dating until marriage, no sexy clothing… this list could be as endless as our human pride & creativity

Key question though are, “Do these things change your heart or just fence you in? Is it about Jesus or about being better than other religious people?

Worldly discipline seems wise but offers no help in overcoming the sin nature. Our core sin  problem can only be handled by the blood, power & presence of Jesus.

Jesus saves us to be free from sin. Many forms of religion trap us instead and keep us from the very things He most wants to give us. It does not need to be that way. Escape spiritual traps by keeping focused faith in Jesus

You CAN avoid spiritual traps and find true joy in Christ. To catch the full lesson, go to www.parkviewfamily.com. Even better join us this weekend at Parkview to take in the next lesson in this series.