Thursday, April 7, 2011

Of No Value

"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-"Do no handle, Do not taste, Do not touch"(referring to things that all perish as they are used)-according to human precepts and teachings? 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" Colossians 2: 20-23

Paul writes to the Colossians asking why they are still falling under the 'elemental' spirits of the world. The phrase 'elemental spirits' comes from a word meaning 'order', specifically, 'alphabetical order'. So in other words, Paul is asking why the Colossian Christians are following the ABC's of the world, as if the orders or regulations of the world can give life. What are the ABC's of the world? What is the world 'order'? Given the following verses, I think Paul is referring to the worlds system of religion. Religion is obeying God in order that He will accept you. Religion is trying to climb a ladder to heaven. Religion is finding comfort in your goodness. Religion is sin management. It's like putting a band aid on a gaping open wound. Religion is lifeless.

In verse 23, Paul states that the ABC's of the world, mans system of being right with God indeed has the appearance of wisdom. It looks good. They have the appearance of piety. Yet, as Paul goes on in chapter 3, true life comes from our union with Christ, wherein we are given a new self. Because the Colossians are united to Christ, just as he has been raised, they too are raised to newness of life. Because Christ died to sin, so they too are dead to sin. Their lives are hidden with Christ. (ch. 3). Why then would they spend their time following the ABC's of the world, trying to get to God by religion? It is of value. They must look to their union with Christ. They must look at the work of another. Everything in the Christian life flows from this.

This makes me ask myself, in what ways am I looking to self-made religion in order to move closer to God. Am I depending on the ABC's of the world for my justification, sanctification, redemption and wisdom? In what ways am I using religion as a cover up, to give the appearance of asceticism? In what ways do I try to look good so people and God will approve of me? This is of no value. This is lifeless. What is of value is Christ. He is the only one who can give life to a dead corpse. True life is found in Him only. And, we aren't to just look to Christ for our 1 time conversion event, where we are given new life. We are to look for Him for life everyday. Our present union with Christ is the grounds for everything in this Christian life. 

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