“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.”
- Again we find Paul instructing in truth to counteract false teaching. He makes some statements here that carry great relevance for us. On the one hand, Paul tells the Colossians not to let others judge them about their observance to the law. We may not condemn others about hand washing or other particulars of the Mosaic code, but within the church we often make judgments of other’s actions. Choices about schooling our children, finances, alcohol consumption, and many other controversial Christian issues get us pointing fingers at one another.
- Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” God has strong feelings about legalism. Just check out Jesus’s many interactions with the Pharisees in the gospels if you have any doubt that God is into works with no heart behind them. We also should not judge each other in regard to non-absolutes. (When we undeniably sin or offend each other, we are commanded to pray-fully and humbly approach each other and speak truth in love. It’s not that God doesn’t care about our choices; He just wants our works to flow out of our heart for Him and not the other way around. The order is everything.)
- Paul also mentions in other passages that times to limit our personal freedoms do exist. When our liberties (even biblical freedoms) cause others to stumble, God calls us to abstain. (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8)
- The point Paul is making is that the law of the Old Testament was a shadow of Christ’s coming. Now Christ is here! We don’t need to keep making plans for a trip that we’ve already taken. This is what the Jews miss – they are going through spiritual rhythms meant to point them to Christ. He has come and they are still living in the shadows. We do the same when we live in the shadows of sin when Christ came to set us free to new life.
- Next Paul points out the false humility and mystical claims of the false teachers and says they have lost connection with Christ. We too need to be careful not to get so caught up in the externals, earthly glory, and religious routines that we lose connection with the person we say we are following – Christ.
- Who have you been judging lately? Repent and ask God to help you focus on following Christ in daily obedience.
- What personal liberties are you willing to give up in order to keep other believers from stumbling?
- Take a moment to evaluate your spiritual rhythms – your time alone with God, your service at church, your ministry, your church attendance even – is your goal to follow Christ and grow in Him? Or is it possible you have lost some connection to the point of it all?
Adoration: Praise God for the freedom in Christ – we no longer live in the shadows!
Confession: Ask God to reveal any areas of liberty that might be hurting others.
Thanksgiving: Thank God that instructs us and addresses our issues through His living Word.
Supplication: Ask God to help you stop judging others. AMEN!