I love the book of Colossians. Mainly because of the freedom it brings. It has brought me an understanding of my old legalistic tendencies and how I used to explain them away with the best of Christian intentions and jargon. The weight of keeping the rules was killing me on the inside. Worse than that was the “job” of keeping everyone else following the rules! I knew we were free from the Old Testament law, but as a Christian, I had learned a whole set of new laws. And then it happened. The Word brought me life.
Colossians 2:20–23 (NIV84)
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.
There are these things that I had learned, and some of them good things. They were things that would keep me on the “straight and narrow.” There were books of Chrisitan “disciplines” that told you how to live. Self-denial was real. It still is in some circles. Maybe right now you are saying, “hey, disciplines are good and self-denial is scriptural.” As a health coach, I put people under discipline. Self-denial is good. However, there was an underlying current of pagan philosophy that had entrapped me and, in my opinion, has ensnared so many others.
This verse ends with a “bomb” statement. All the rules have NO value in you, not fulfilling your fleshly (carnal) desires. Rules cannot stop you from indulging yourself. Let that sink in for a moment. Now look at verse 20. “Since you died with Christ…” So beautiful. You died already! The death was to your sinful nature. In other words, it has no power over you. You are free from it! It is dead! If it has no power over you, then why would you set up rules to keep it in line? Think about that. Why would you do anything that gives power to something that you have already died to? This is why rules have no value in retraining you. What does have value? Understanding that you are a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away. You are new. You don’t have to say yes to the dead guy, the old you. You have complete power over your flesh. Whether that is talking about your physical body, the whole person or your sinful nature, you died with Christ and were raised in Christ. You don’t need rules. You have Christ in you. Jesus is enough.