16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Colossians 2:16-23
Paul begins with a "Therefore" and when I was in InterVarsity learning Bible study skills, I learned that we have to ask, What is the 'therefore' there for? Cute little rhyme, huh? And useful!
So rewind to yesterday. Paul's Therefore means this: because Christ cancelled the written code and defeated the powers of darkness by His work on the cross, you needn't let two things happen
- letting someone judge you by your behaviors that don't line up with specific traditions, or
- letting someone unqualified to judge, disqualify you from the prize.
It also seems to me, from these two paragraphs that he's addressing issues that the Colossians might run into with two groups: religious and secular. The religious group, referred to in the first paragraph, has historical regulations, observations of festivals, and so on that I believe must come from the Old Covenant, because of what Paul says about them being a shadow of "things" to some (Jesus). The second group I surmise is not a religious group and rather rules belonging to the culture, based upon his saying that they are rules based on human commands and teachings. I don't think Paul, with his reverence for God and His Word, would say that about the law given through Moses. BUT I don't know for sure, so after I read more about this for tomorrow, I'll let you know if it needs to be corrected.
Either way, this does highlight how we can become held captive by "things" on either side of the horse, so to speak: in bondage to religion or in bondage to the culture. Only staying ON the horse, where our eyes and hearts and minds are properly fixed on Christ, can keep us properly in the saddle. As Paul said to the Galatians (5:1):
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
CHRIST is the motivation to and the only One through which we can avoid being burdened by the judgments of others, empty religious rituals, and the principles of the world. God holds things together and makes things grow through His Son, the Head (v. 19) As Paul points out in the final verse of today's passage,
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
On the outside, adhering to a bunch of rules can seem like the way to go, maintain your reputation, look good, etc. But Paul calls a spade a spade; such things lead simply to self-worship, false humility, and only deal with how you treat your physical body. None of them will change your heart, enabling you to restrain from sensual indulgence.
We need more than rules.
We need Jesus.
And He's available.
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Here's hoping I'm not totally off-base with these thoughts about this passage! I'll do some reading in the next day and fill in any gaps tomorrow. Also, there are only 9 writing days left in this month. If you have been reading along, thank you! I know this may not be interesting to many, but pray that it's a blessing to some. I am learning a lot about how much I need to be considering Christ in the day-to-day. Have you picked up anything new or have any insights to share? Drop me a comment!