An Appearance of Wisdom
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 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. – Colossians 2:20-23
Right before these verses, Paul has made a clear proclamation that believers in Christ are no longer under the law. We are under Christ. Yet, this does not mean that we should sin all the more so that grace may abound. Paul’s reprimand here in verse 20 is not against those who are still holding to Scriptural/Godly standards of living life. Although we are no longer under the law, the law still guides us in how to live a life that is faithful and honoring to God.
Yet, in this situation, Paul is speaking to situations in which people have prescribed additional moral/legalistic rules. One example of this would be to say that speaking in tongues is evidence of salvation, and those who do not speak in tongues are not saved. These are the type of abuses that were going on in the church in Colossae. This was a man-made expectation that was set on top of the shoulders of Christians, oppressing them, and misleading them in regard to their faith in Christ.
If the early church could fall to deception like this, we should not be so proud to think that we are immune to it. We must continually be examining the rules, standards, and boundaries we put around ourselves. When we do this, we should not be asking, “is this right or wrong?” Instead, we should be asking, “is this faithful? Is this honoring to Christ? Is this glorifying to God?”
The allure of man-made cultural standards that are legalistically put in place over believers is that it has the appearance of wisdom. It has the appearance of holiness and righteousness. It makes people think, “wow, aren’t they just the most godly person around?” Yet, the folly of this is that when there are additional pre-requisites for a believer to be in a relationship with the Lord, it devalues Christ and all that He has done. So let us live in the freedom of Christ, no longer under the law, called not to legalism, but to faithfulness and to Jesus.