16 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. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. 18 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, 19 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. 20 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, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 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.
Dr. Adrian Rogers tells the story of returning to the Florida to do a revival meeting for a friend. He flew in to the nearest airport and rented a car. He assumed that he knew where he was going and so he got on the road and was making great time. After several hours, he began to wonder because the church was not far from the airport. He stopped and inquired from the locals: they got out a map and he discovered that he was going in the wrong direction. He said, “I was making great time, enjoying the journey but I was headed in the wrong direction.”
In today passage, Paul is concerned that the Colossians are about to head in the wrong direction and he wants to prevent this from happening. Churches often plateau and then hit retrograde and begin going down hill. Paul’s message is: “Don’t drift backwards.”
I. DON’T GET INTO LEGALISM
“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.” [2:16]
Legalism is as bad as Gnosticism. Legalism was coming from the Jewish influence and Gnosticism came from the Greek influence but both were bad because they advocated that CHRIST WAS INSUFFICIENT, not enough.
- Legalism is cold, condemning, shows no mercy–antithetical to Christ.
- Legalism majors on minors–Strains the gnat and swallows the camel [get the attendance and tithing right but miss the mercy]
II. DON’T FOCUS ON THE SHADOW AND MISS THE SUBSTANCE
For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. [2:17]
I love the Old Testament but everything in the Old Testament is pointing to Jesus who is the Substance: the Passover, the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, the Temple are all shadows: even the animal sacrifices are shadows of the real thing which is Christ.
- We do no focus on shadows; if we do, we will miss the Substance. We’ll be like a dog chasing the shadow of a bird on the ground. We will become so engrossed with the shadow that we never look up to the reality that is creating the shadow.
- There is an arrow on every page of the O.T. that is pointing to Jesus and the Jews worshipped the arrows and rejected Jesus.
III. DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE SENSATIONAL
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. [2:18]
The phrase “Pious self-denial” is translated “voluntary humility” in the AV and “self-abasement” in the NASB. Barclay translates it “Ostentatious Humility”. In other words, a false humility, a showy humility, flaunting humility. Humility is not an act, it is an attitude of the heart. If we are acting humble, it is proof that we are not.
- For some reason, I have been unsuccessful in educating believers to see this in FALSE TEACHERS. All false teachers practice this fake humility.
- Paul said, “Their sinful minds have made them proud.” FALSE TEACHERS are arrogant; they are proud of their pride and then we follow them like sheep off a cleft.
- This arrogant pride goes against everything that Jesus taught: “Blessed are the poor in Spirit” is the first beatitude for a reason. Humility is first base in the kingdom. You can not possibly please God with out touching first.
- This FALSE TEACHERS are not a part of the body of Christ…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. I John 2:16…These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us. Williams translates this verse, “They have gone out from our number, but they did not really belong to us: for if they had they would have stayed with us. It was to show that none of those who went out really belonged to us.” Have you ever heard of a dismembered finger starting a new body?
IV. DON’T SLIP BACK INTO BONDAGE
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. [2:20-23]
Christ has set you free by His death…He died for you
- Everything Christ experienced here on earth was in our behalf
- He died to sin and self so that we could die to sin and self
- He became sin in our behalf and died with our sin burden on His shoulders then it was carried to a grave and buried our transgressions, put out of sight, put an end to.
- He arose from the grave, defeated death so that death has no power over you and I.
- He ascended to the Father and you and I will also ascend to the Father. His experience is ours when we trust Him as our Savior and LORD.
- Don’t let the FALSE TEACHERS capture you with their myths, methods, misinformation…with their list, legalism and love of praise.
- The FALSE TEACHERS and their damnable doctrines will not help you conquer your old sinful nature with its lust for power and its pride.
It doesn’t matter if its legalism or liberalism, the point is…don’t let the enemy capture you. Your loyalty is to Christ, not a domination, or some spiritual leader. Any spiritual leader who makes more of himself than he/she does Christ is not worthy of your attention. If their passion is not to point to Jesus and praise Jesus then its time you joined yourself to a fellowship that celebrates Jesus every time they meet. There is no justifiable reason for JESUS not to be the focus of every service. When His name is not mentioned: that is a clue that those listening are following the wrong leader. Jesus is THE leader, THE truth, THE way and THE life. The is emphatic which means no other. When Jesus leads it is called CHRISTIANITY…when man leads it is called a CULT.
Recently I talked to a young lady who had been on a trip with a group from a certain church in a near by city. She was talking about their excitement over what was going on in their church. To be honest, I had some questions about the church so I ask her this question: what did they talk about most, their pastor or Jesus? She shocked me with her answer, “Actually, they talked more about Jesus and they witnessed to everyone they saw. To be honest, they kind of made me feel bad because I don’t witness to everyone I meet.” If your pastor has inspired you to share Christ with others, he deserved to be followed. Whether it is tele-evangelist or a pastor, when they make more of themselves than they do Jesus, it is not a good sign. A FALSE TEACHER will not be able to contain their ego over the long haul; sooner or later, they are going to seek the glory by making the movement about themselves. It is the nature of the beast.
Remember the story of the frog and scorpion. The scorpion needed to cross the river but he could not swim. He ask the frog for a ride and frog said “No, when we get in the water, you will sting me and I will die.” “Why would I do that?” said the scorpion, “If I stung you while in the river, we would both die.” The frog agreed that he had a good point and allowed him to crawl on his back and into the water they plunged. While in the deep current of the river, the frog felt a painful sting and the numbing poison coursing through his veins, “Why did you sting me?” said the frog, “Now we will both die.” “I could not help myself, it is my nature,” said the scorpion.