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Freedom From Man-Made Rules

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[1] Colossians Title
Colossians Re-Intro

Satan Steals Our Joy

Overemphasis on religion (do’s don’ts, thou shalt nots)
Warning against legalism
Because God’s presence, salvation and victory are revealed fully in Christ, He is sufficient and there is no need to pursue additional teachings or practices.
[2-9] Main Scripture
Colossians 2:16–23 NLT
So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. 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.
[10] Colossians Title

Don’t let anyone condemn you

What you eat or drink, festivals or Sabbaths

Probably refers to Jewish dietary laws and holy days celebrated annually, monthly and weekly.
These rituals distinguished the Jews from their neighbors - failure to observe them made it obvious to those who were watching.
But we should not let ourselves be judged by others opinions because Christ has set us free.
Mark 7:18–20 NLT
“Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.) And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you.
Jesus declared all foods clean when he said ‘Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean.’’ Peter’s vision to ‘Get up, Kill and Eat.’ Declared all foods clean.
Paul made the conclusion, unifying the New Testament in telling us that all food and drink are lawful:
1 Corinthians 8:8 CSB
Food will not bring us close to God. We are not worse off if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat.
ANSWER: These are all shadows of Christ, who has come.

Insisting on self-denial or worship of angels

False teachers had been advocating asceticism for spiritual growth.
The true path to spiritual maturity is holding fast to Christ as the head, not following man-made rules.
Asceticism: practicing extreme self-denial from the normal pleasures of life or even self-mortification for religious reasons. (i.e. monk)
Believers must put aside sinful desires, but doing so is the by-product of our new life in Christ, not the reason for our new life in Christ.
Our salvation does not depend on our own discipline and rule keeping but on the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.
ANSWER: Christ is the head and nourishes the whole body (of Christ).
Christ has set you free from man-made rules and you have new life in Christ
So why keep following human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them?
Rules seem wise, because they require strong devotion, self-denial, and severe bodily discipline, but they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.
Rules don’t help. Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit helps!
Guard against man-made religions by asking these questions:
Does it stress man-made rules rather than God’s grace?
Does it foster a critical spirit toward others or exercise a quiet discipline and love?
Does it stress formulas, secret knowledge, or special visions more than the Word of God?
Does it elevate self-righteousness, honoring those who keep rules, rather than elevating Christ?
Does it neglect Christ’s universal Church and claim to be an elite group?
Does it teach self-deprivation as a means to spiritual growth rather than growth in Christ for the whole person?
Legalism still attracts many people today.
Following a long list of religious rules requires strong self-discipline and can make a person appear moral, but religious rules cannot change a person’s heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
Self-denial to follow man-made rules may appear to be spiritual, but it actually promotes nothing more than confidence in self rather than Christ.
We don’t work to be saved, we work because we are saved.
We don’t obey Christ to be saved, we obey Christ because we are saved.
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