13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 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.
This portion continues where we left off yesterday, focussing on the freedom we have in Christ. The new converts at the time were facing judgment by the religious leaders because they were still doing things that were previously forbidden in the law – things that Christ’s new covenant has covered and fulfilled. These things still happen today. There are people who still find themselves not eating certain food because it was declared to be unclean in the Old Testament. People who do no work whatsoever on a Sunday because they subscribe to Old Testament law of the Sabbath.
In this passage Paul touches on what I consider to be one of the most important revelations for the Christian that is living in freedom! Here is the revelation: Christ ‘cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, natiling it to the cross’. What is the “it” that Paul speaks about? It’s the fact that mankind was unable to come boldly into the presence of God, but rather connected with God through the law. Christ replaced the law!
What does this mean? For one, it means we are free to eat or drink anything (except where there is clear warning against it – such as ‘do not get drunk with wine’ – in the new covenant, and where it goes against the laws of the country). Secondly, it means the Sabbath is no longer a day – the Sabbath is a person – Jesus Christ. In the old covenant, mankinds rest came in the form of taking a day to do no work, and to focus on the coming Messiah. He has come! And our rest is now found in Him.
A CALL TO ACTION
I suspect this topic of freedom may be difficult for some people to process. The reason for this, is that it isn’t easy to admit our own religiousity. It’s also not easy to admit that we’ve believed the wrong things – even for many years. But now is a time for honesty. Ask yourself what traditions, rituals, beliefs or spiritual convictions you have that go against the freedom that Christ died for? What are some of the limits you may have put on yourself that are not necessary?
If there are some things that point to legalism and religiosity in your life, begin the process of change. I don’t expect this to be an easy change – but rather one to undertake prayerfully.
At this point, I also offer my assistance, if you would like to discuss one or two things pertaining to the law and freedom.
A PRAYER TO PRAY
Jesus, thank you for the freedom that is found in You. Thank you for the way you have fought so that I can live the best possible life, rather than the most limited life. Help me to identity legalism in my life that should not be part of our relationship. Amen.