Thursday, September 03, 2015

Man made religions - Colossians 2:20-23

"If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) — in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." (Colossians 2:20-23)
Our new life in Christ is predicated upon the fact that we have died to the world and to its orderly forms of religion. Mankind has always had an innate understanding of the existence of a creator God. However, in his inability to comprehend God, he has developed religions to serve and appease God. These religions, patterned after the orderly principals of the world, take their shape in a form of natural wisdom, willful participation in piety and ceremonial worship, lowliness of mind and modesty, and spartan treatment of the body. However, such religions are more concerned with what goes into the body then what comes out of the heart. "Taste not, touch not, and use not" all deal with things external but fail to address the real issues of our life that lay within our hearts. Jesus Himself taught us that, "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man." (Matthew 15:11) for "the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man." (Matthew 15:18)

The religions of men, while they may appear sanctimonious, offer no real power against the immorality that rages on within us. No  amount of depriving and abusing the flesh will ever serve to eliminate the sin that stains our heart. The only thing that can kill sin in our lives is death and the only thing that can bring forth righteousness in our life is resurrection. Having died with Christ, we have not only died to the world but also to sin and its power over us. Now, living a new life, we have the Hope of Righteousness abiding within us; that being the person of the Holy Spirit. If we have died to the world and to its sin and if we have the Hope of Righteousness living inside of us then what more use do we have for the religions of the world?

Paul taught us, "But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also." (Galatians 4:29) Those who remain as children of the world will always seek to restore again to their religions those who have left religion behind. Those who remain in bondage to earthly religions will never be at rest until they secure the re-enslavement of those who have been set free from the world and its ways. But what does Paul say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman." (Galatians 4:30) We must not only refuse to yield to those who seek to restore us to their religions but we must also be vigilant to divest ourselves (and our churches) of any remaining vestiges of religion. The write of Hebrews says, "the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing." (Hebrews 9:8) Religion not only enslaves us but it hides and blurs the message of Christ. Let us cast off all religion from our lives that the message of Christ may become apparent to all and the path back to God plainly seen.

David Robison

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