All this week, I have been focusing on the freedom we have received in Christ based on Colossians 2. This freedom means that we are free from the condemnation we were facing in our sin. All the charges against us have been cleared and we shared Christ's victory over death. All this is possible by God's grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). I looked at the idea of legalism within the church does not gain freedom for the believer, rather it binds us back up in chains. This is because we can never be good enough and we have to believe that our salvation comes through Christ and not how we behave. Our behavior does not dictate who we are in Christ; who we are in Christ is what dictates our behavior. That is a huge difference! Please read Colossians 2:20-23.
In verse 20 Paul reminds us of the spiritual battles that are waging by saying, "You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world..." That is a good question! Why do we keep following the rules of the world? The world does not have authority over us, so why should we follow its rules? Christ is the one who has authority over the world and all the spiritual powers, so shouldn't we be focused on following Him? This a mindset that every believer should have because it is when we have faith in God's grace and believe His promises that we receive the Holy Spirit who guides us in what we should do. The Holy Spirit gives us an understanding of the truths found in the Bible and helps us know the right thing to do. Paul isn't giving us permission to keep on sinning, he is showing us that the focus is all wrong when we are desperately trying to follow rules.
Paul had even stronger things to say about the rules that we humans like to apply to our faith in verse 23, "These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires." They seem wise because of how holy they look, but God isn't looking at our outward appearances; He is looking at our heart. He isn't looking for what looks good; He wants to see a heart that seeks Him and the outflow will produce the fruit that He desires. Abstaining from things is good as well as fasting, but not if we are doing it because it seems like a holy thing to do. Those are things we do because we have been lead by God to do them. We can pray just like David in Psalm 139:23-24 when he said, "Search me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Then we need to trust that God will do it! The rules do not give us the tools to help us change, God is the one who helps us change.
Is your faith in God or in the rules?
This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.