“Let no man beguile you of your reward”(Colossians 2:18).
At the outset, it is well for us to remark how very frequently that Sha’ul teaches us by his metaphors to a race the example of life as a Believer. Repeatedly he tells us to run so that we may obtain, urging us to strive, and at other times to agonize, and he speaks of wrestling and contending. Should not this lead us to believe that a Believer’s life is more than a passive acceptance? Something left only to a little superficial consideration? A Believer’s life must be a matter, which demands all our strength. When we are reconciled to YHVH Elohim there should be evident within us a living principle that demands all our energies. Those who dream that carelessness and passivity will find its way into the Kingdom have made a great mistake. The way to hell is neglect, but the way to heaven is very different. It is written, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” A little matter of neglect brings you to ruin, but Yahshua’s words are, “Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for many, I say unto you, shall seek”—merely seek—“to enter in, and shall not be able.” Striving is wanted more than seeking. May the Ruach HaKodesh always enable us to be in earnest about the salvation of our souls! May we never count this a matter of secondary importance; but may we seek first, and beyond everything else, the kingdom of God and his righteousness. May we lay hold on eternal life; may we so run that we may obtain it!
I observe not only in myself, but also in my fellow Believers that we are often more earnest about the things of this life than we are about the things of the life to come. We are all impressed with the fact that in these days of intense economic conditions, to avoid poverty we must constantly strive to keep our heads above water. Yet, many strive for other reasons that relate to a person’s greed and esteem. Is it unavoidable that this world shall engross all our thoughts and cares, and shall the world to come have only now and then a consideration? No, it should not be so, therefore may we love YHVH with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our strength; and may we lay our body, soul, and spirit upon the altar of Yahshua’s service, for these are but our reasonable sacrifice.
Sha’ul gives us a warning in our text, and out of this text there are three meanings, which are worthy of notice. “Let no man beguile you of your reward.” What Sha’ul may mean here is:
1. let no man beguile any of you who profess to be followers of Yahshua of the great reward that will await the faithful at the last.
As Believers, many of us have begun the Believer’s race, or we profess to have done so, but the number of the starters is far greater than the number of the winners. It is written that, “They that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize.” “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Many begin in their walk and though they did run well, after a while something hinders them that they do not obey the truth; and they go out from us because they were not of us, for if they had been of us, doubtless they would have continued with us. Now we may expect that some will come and try to turn us out of the racecourse openly—not plausibly and with sophistication, but with an open and honest wickedness. Some will tell us plainly that there is no reward to run for, that what we believe is all a mistake, that the pleasures of this world are the only things worth seeking, that there are delights of the flesh and the lusts thereof, and that we should do well to enjoy them. We shall meet the Atheist with his sneer and with his ringing laugh. We shall meet with all kinds of persons who will to our faces tell us to turn back, for there is no heaven, there is no Messiah, or, if there be, it is not worth our while to take so much trouble to find Him. Beware of such people. Meet them face to face with unbending courage. Pay no attention to their sneers. If they persecute you, reckon this to be an honor to you, for what is persecution but the tribute that wickedness pays to righteousness, and what is it, indeed, but the recognition of the seed of the woman that the seed of the serpent would desire to bite his heel?
But Sha’ul does not warn so much against those people who openly come to us in this way. He knows that we will be on the alert against them. He gives a special warning against some others who would beguile us; that is to say, who will try to turn us out of the right road, but who will not tell us that they mean to do so. They pretend that they are going to show you something that you know not, some improvement upon what you have previously learned. In Sha’ul’s time there were some who turned a Believer’s attention from the worship of God to the worship of angels. “Angels,” said they, “these are holy beings; they keep watch over you; you should speak of them with great respect;” and then when they grew bolder, they said, “You should ask their protection”; and then after a little while they said, “You should worship them; you should make them intermediate intercessors;” and so, step by step, they went on and established an old heresy which has lasted for many years, and which is not dead even now, and the worship of angels crept in. This is a prominent distraction technique today as are unidentified flying objects (UFOs) that are garnering the attention and fascination of so many.
“Let no man beguile you of your reward.” They will often attack you in that insidious manner by setting up other objects of reverence besides those that spiritual men worship.
So, too, they will by slow degrees try to insinuate a different way of living from that which is the true life of the Believer. Torah observance. You, who have believed in Yahshua and are reconciled to YHVH Elohim for His name’s sake and have yearned to become obedient to Him will be told that Shabbat, the dietary laws, festivals, and Torah are done away with or not pertinent believers today. And in all this they may make a great show of sanctimoniousness and paint an attractive picture of supposed freedom that in reality is license and leads away from YHVH Elohim. Be careful for they will beguile you of your reward. Take care to examine changes in terminology that seems to imply one thing, but in reality meaning something completely different. Remember for example, that democracy is a Hellenistic form of government whereby a majority rules, whether or not the majority is correct in the eyes of G-d’s Torah. Today, Democracy carries with it the context and paradigm of Socialism also labeled “Progressivism.”
There is another party who will seek to beguile you of your reward by bringing in speculative notions and instead of teaching YHVH’s Torah. They will entertain you and lead you into occult practices and abominations wrapped in attractive packages; claiming all sorts of authority not given by Torah. There are those today who seem to do nothing else but spin new theories and inventing new systems, gutting the gospel of the kingdom, taking the very soul and bowels out of it, and leaving there nothing but the mere skin and outward bones. The life and marrow of the gospel is being taken away by their philosophies, by their refinements, by their bringing everything down to the test of the 21st century, to which we are all, I suppose, are supposed to defer. But a voice comes to us, “Let no man beguile you of your reward.” Stand fast to the truth; Truth will outlast all these philosophies. Stand fast to YHVH’s Torah and His instructions as to how to live, it will outlast all the inventions of men. Stand fast by YHVH Elohim and His son Yahshua, for you want no other object of worship but Himself.
Sha’ul’s warning, “Let no man beguile you of your reward,” reminds us that these persons are very likely to beguile us. They will beguile us by their character. Have I not often heard young people say of such and such a preacher who preaches error, “But he is so good a man.” That is nothing to the point. It is written, “Though we or an angel from heaven and preach any other gospel unto you than that, which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” If the life of the man should be blameless, as the life of Yahshua, yet if he preach to you other than the gospel of the Kingdom, take no heed of him; he only wears the sheep’s clothing but is a wolf after all. Some will plead, “But such and such a man is so eloquent.” Pray YHVH Elohim that may the day never come when your faith shall stand in the false words of men. What is a ready orator, after all, that he should convince your hearts? Was not Hitler such a man who preached the 1000-year millennium? There are many such men who speak fluently, and speak well in the cause of evil; and there are probably more who can more fluently and more eloquently speak for evil than any of our poor tongues are ever likely to do for the right. But words, words, words, flowers of rhetoric, oratory—are these the things that save you? Should we be so foolish that, having begun in the spirit by being convinced of your sins, having begun by being led simply to Yahshua, and putting your trust in him—that we are now to be led astray by these poetic utterances and the eloquence of men? God forbid! Let nothing of this kind beguile you.
Then there will be added to these remarks that the man is not only very good and very eloquent, but that he is very earnest and very humble–minded. HaSatan knows very well that if anyone comes in black he will be discovered; but if he puts on the garb of an angel of light, then men will think he comes from YHVH, and so will be deceived. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” If they exalt not the Written and Living Torah, if they do not lift up Yahshua as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, have nothing to do with them, speak as they may. “Let no man beguile you of your reward.”
Recollect, you professors, you lose the reward if you lose the road to the reward. He that runs may run very fast; but if he does not run in the course, he wins not the prize. You may believe false doctrine with great earnestness, but you will find it false for all that. You may give yourself up indefatigably to the pursuit of the wrong religion, but it will ruin your souls. A notion is abroad that if you are but earnest and sincere, you will be all right. Permit me to remind you that if you travel ever so earnestly to the north you will never reach the south, if you earnestly take prussic acid you will die, and if you earnestly cut off a limb you will be wounded. You must not only be earnest, but you must be right in it. Hence is it necessary to say, “Let no man beguile you of your reward.” “I bear them witness,” said the Apostle, “that they had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, but went about to establish their own righteousness, and have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” Oh! may we not be beguiled, then, so as to miss the reward of heaven at the last!
However, I must pass on, especially as the light fails us in the evening; I hope it is prognostic of a coming shower. Here is a second rendering, which may be given to the text:
2. let no man domineer over you.
This rendering, or something analogous to it, is in the French translation. One of the great expositors in his commentary upon this passage refers it to the judges at the end of the course, who sometime would give the reward to the wrong person, and the person who had really run well might thus be deprived of his reward. Now, however close a man may be to YHVH and His Son Yahshua, the world, instead of honoring him for it, will, on the contrary, censure and condemn him; and hence the Apostle’s exhortation is, “Let no man domineer over you.”
And, my brethren, I would earnestly ask you to remember this first as to your course of action. If you conscientiously believe that you are right in what you are doing, consider very little who is pleased or who is displeased. If you are persuaded in your own soul that what you believe and what you do are acceptable to G-d, whether they are acceptable to man or not is of very small consequence. You are not man’s servant; you do not look to man for your reward; and, therefore, you need not care what man’s opinion may be in this matter. Be just and fear not. Tread in the footsteps of Yahshua; follow what may. Live not on the breath of men. Let not their applause make you feel great, for perhaps then their censure will make you faint. Let no man in this respect domineer over you, but let YHVH/Yahshua be your Master, and look to his smile.
So, not only with regard to your course of action, but also with reference to your confidence, let no man domineer over you. If you put your trust in Yahshua HaMashiach, there are some who will say it is presumption. Let them say it is presumption. “Wisdom is justified of all her children,” and so shall faith be. If you take the promise of G-d and rest upon it, there will be some who will say that you are hare–brained fanatics. Let them say it. They that trust in him shall never be confounded. The result will honor your faith. You have but to wait a little while; and, perhaps, they that now censure you will have to hold up their hands in astonishment and say with you, “What hath G-d wrought?” Your confidence in Yahshua, especially, my dear friend, I trust does not depend upon the smile of your relatives. If it did, then their frown might crush it. Walk with your Messiah in the lowly walk of holy confidence, and let not your faith rest in man, but in the smile of G-d.
Let no man domineer over you, again, by judging your motives. Men will always give as bad a reason as they can for a good man’s actions. It seems to be innate in human nature never to give a man credit for being right if you can help it; and often sensitive minds have been greatly wounded when they have been misrepresented, and their actions have been imputed to sinister and selfish motives when they have really desired to serve YHVH. But do not let your heart be broken about that. You will appear before the judgment seat of G-d; do not care about these petty judgments seats of men. Go on with your Master’s work dauntlessly and fearlessly. Let them say, as David’s brethren said of him, “Because of thy pride and the naughtiness of thy heart to see the battle, art thou come.” Go you and get Goliath’s head, and bring it back; and that shall be the best answer to these sneering ones. When they see that G-d is with you and that he has given you the triumph, you shall have honor, even in the eyes of those who now ridicule you.
I think sometimes the Believer should have very much the same bravado against the judgment of men as David had when Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out and said, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants,” and he said, “It was before the L-rd, and I will yet be more vile than thus.” Let your eye be to G-d, and forget the eyes of men. Live so that, whether they know what you do, or do not know, you will not care, for your conduct will bear the blaze of the great Judgment Day; and, therefore, the criticisms of earth do not affect you. Let no man domineer over you.
May I put it in another light—let no man sway your conscience so as to lead you. I am always anxious that whatever respect I may ever win from you—and I trust I may have your esteem and your affection—yet that you will never believe a doctrine simply because I utter it; but unless I can confirm it from the Word of G-d, away with it. If it is not according to the teaching of the L-rd and Master, I beseech you follow me not. Follow me only as far as I follow Yahshua. And so with every other man. Let it be G-d’s truth, G-d’s Word, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit’s) witness to that Word in your soul that you are seeking after. But rest, I pray you, never short of that; for if you do your faith must stand merely in the wisdom of men; and when the man who helped you to believe is gone, perhaps your faith may be gone too, when most you need its comforting power. No, let no man domineer over you, but press forward in the believer’s race, looking unto YHVH/Yahshua, and looking unto YHVH/Yahshua only.
But now a third meaning belongs to the text.
3. let no man rob you of the present reward which you have in being a Believer.
Let no man deprive you of the present comfort, which your faith should bring to you. Let me just for a few minutes have your attention while I speak upon this. You and I, if we are believers in Yahshua are this day completely pardoned of all past sins. There is no past sin in G-d’s book against us. We are wholly and completely justified. The righteousness of Yahshua covers us from head to foot, and we stand before G-d as if we had never sinned. Now let no man rob you of this reward. Do not be tempted by anything that is said to doubt the completeness of a believer in Yahshua. Hold this, and, as you hold it, enjoy it. Do not let the man, yourself, whom you have most to fear, beguile you. Even though conscience should upbraid you and you should have many grave reasons for doubt, as you imagine, yet if you believe in Yahshua, stand to it—“There is, therefore, now no condemnation to me, for I am in Messiah Yahshua; he that believeth on him is not condemned; I have believed, and I am not condemned, neither will he permit condemnation to be thundered against me, for Yahshua has borne my sin for me, and I am clear in him.” Let no man beguile you of the reward of feeling that you are complete in Yahshua. But let me caution you that if you truly believe you will be obedient to G-ds Torah.
Further, you who have believed in Yahshua and guarded the commandments of YHVH Elohim are safe in Him. Because he lives, you shall live also. Who shall separate us from the love of G-d, which is in Messiah Yahshua our L-rd? He has said, “I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.”
Shalom v’ brachas,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart