BCL Grow: Piety vs. Pietism — Colossians 2:18

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Colossians 2:18 (Sanctification)

Bible Passage

Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind. — Colossians 2:18


“Pietism is not to be confused with piety, which describes the Christian life and worship; pietism describes a retreat into the subjective experience of God.” — R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice, p. 74.

Steps to Take

1. Ask: Some Christians may seek a personal, subjective experience with God of some kind, perhaps by seeing a vision or hearing a revelation of some kind. This is known as pietism. Does the Bible encourage Christians to do this?

2. Consider: Practicing asceticism (another form of pietism that involves denying oneself of physical pleasures for the sake of spiritual advancement) can also be appealing to people because they feel like they are being more religious and, thus, closer to God. Yet, Paul specifically states that such pursuits puff up one’s “sensuous mind” (Col. 2:18).

3. Act: Instead of seeking mystical religious experiences and a lofty spiritual status, Christians can take comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit actually dwells in them (1 Cor. 6:19; Rom. 8:9). Believers should be known for their piety, as they seek to know God’s word (1 Pet. 3:15), pray to their heavenly Father (Matt. 6:5-15; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17-18); attend a faithful local church (1 Tim. 3:14-17; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 5:2; Heb. 10:24-25), and “walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12).

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