Read: Colossians 2:20-23
These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion. (v. 23)
Paul continued to hammer away at the idea that these external rules and rituals, which some in Colossae were promoting as the ticket to being a superior Christian, had absolutely no value. “You can’t do that! You may not eat that! You should not touch that! Real Christians follow our rules!”
Of course, if you know Paul, then you recognize that Paul by no means viewed our post-baptism lives as an anything goes free-for-all. Morality matters. There are behaviors to be avoided and there is fruit of the Spirit to be cultivated instead. So when we read the end of Colossians 2, we should not conclude that Paul was saying that it’s always wrong to forbid certain things in the church.
The problem comes when we confuse the root of faith with its fruits. The people in Colossae who were making up rules for an ascetic life were claiming that following those rules is what gets you saved. But rules are never the root of the Christian life. The root is grace alone. The things we avoid and the things we do are the results of God’s grace, not the activities that earned us God’s approval in the first place. When rules become more important than people, and when rituals eclipse the grace of our salvation, that is where we must draw a line. Because then nothing short of the gospel is at stake! —Scott Hoezee
As you pray, thank God for the root of grace and for the fruit the Spirit now produces in you.
About the Author
Scott Hoezee is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He served two Michigan congregations from 1990-2005 and since 2005 has been a faculty member at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he serves chiefly as the Director of The Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of several books, including most recently Why We Listen to Sermons (Calvin Press 2019) and is the co-host of the “Groundwork” radio program.