Colossians 2:20–If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— Colossians 2:21 Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”. Colossians 2:23–These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
What is self-made religion?
Worship which one prescribes and devises for himself, contrary to the contents and nature of faith which ought to be directed to Christ.; misdirected zeal and the practice of ascetics.
What about the elemental spirits? Colossians 2:8–See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
“The apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in the Colossian church is a response to the news that many believers had been subscribing to heretical philosophies rather than sticking to the gospel of salvation by grace apart from works. The church had begun to add certain spiritual requirements to their doctrine, reflecting an adherence to Old Testament laws rather than following the wisdom of Jesus (Colossians 2:2–4). These new believers struggled to resolve their former legalistic beliefs with the radical concept of the complete sufficiency of Christ—both for salvation and sanctification.” From “Got a Question” Website.
John 17:14–I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
We have been transferred from the world to His kingdom. We are alive to Him not to the elemental spirits of the world. The Colossians were using man-made religion to fight against the flesh. The Galatians were doing the same thing.
Galatians 4:9–But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? Galatians 4:10 –You observe days and months and seasons and years!
I was raised in a denomination that was full of dos and don’ts. There were so many rules, ordinances and regulations, they would fill a book. In fact, they did fill a book that we had to memorize and live by at the cost of sin.
Later, I joined another denomination also full of rules, all loosely tied to scripture. We had to take communion every Sunday, had to go to church every Sunday, no mixed bathing or males could not swim with females, no musical instruments allowed in Sunday service. These are a few of many examples that could result in sin if not followed. There was a Christian school where the kids had to sign a pledge that they would never dance at the risk of being kicked out of school. Evidently dancing was a sin.
There are countless examples of Christian self-made religious laws, rules and rituals we have created to deal with temptation and the flesh or the world around us. When we set up these New Testament ordinances, we are missing a major truth. Back in Paul’s day these regulations were intended to deal with the elemental spirits of the world. They had the appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion, but they were of no value in stopping the flesh. The same applies to our modern-day self-made religion or rules/laws we create by taking the letter of the Word and making it into laws. We then start depending on these laws for justification rather than the grace from His cross. He has delivered us from sin and the flesh.
Hebrews 13:9–Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
We are strengthened by what He has given us rather than by what we try to do for Him. Rather than trying to adhere to man-made religious rules/doctrines that have the appearance of wisdom, He now wants us to walk in and by His Spirit.
Romans 8:1–There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:2–For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Lord, may You deliver us from all self-made religion that may have crept into our lives that we may be totally dependent on the law of the Spirit of life in Christ and Your many riches of grace. May You teach us to hear and follow Your Spirit.