You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. Col 2: 20-23 (NLT)
What I find interesting about this scripture is the reason Paul was writing it and the cultural environment the Colossians were faced with. At the time of this writing, the church in Colosse was young and as Satan would have it, very susceptible to heretical teachings. Among those false teachers were those who insisted that the Old Testament ceremonial law (“Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch”) the pious worship, and harsh treatment of the body, were a means to salvation. As we know, they are not. And Paul’s letter explains that practicing these “religious philosophies” does nothing to control sinful desires. They are quite simply, superficial.
But even in today’s world, these things are still happening. People still try to earn salvation. Even those professing to be Christians. It still amazes me. Although I guess it shouldn’t. It wasn’t until I truly came to Christ and started really listening to Him through others and scripture did I finally get it. Grace is a free gift received by belief in the Gospel. I guess it’s human nature to think that we have to earn something as amazing as Grace. After all, we’re brought up being told we have to “earn a degree,” “earn a living,” “earn respect.” How, then, could salvation be free?
That’s God’s plan. If you think about it, even though it is free, true salvation is hard to come by. It goes against our humanness to accept the free gift because it seems too good to be true, but the fact is, overcoming that nature is the hardest part. Truly accepting the Gift is a huge sacrifice. It forces us to change a deeply engrained paradigm. That is, everything comes with a price. That’s why Paul was so worried about the Colossians. He knew that if the church there wasn’t careful, the heretics would have their way. To the Colossians, practicing the religious philosophies was easier than changing their paradigm.
God, I pray that I am able to truly change my paradigm. I struggle every day with my “practices.” Only you know my heart. Help me to be sure I’m yours. Amen.