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Colossians 2:20-23

Why Do You Continue?

20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.


Paul now rebukes the Colossians with a rhetorical question that more or less sums up everything that he has said. "Wherefore," because of all that has been said and taught to you, "if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world," as he had explained in verses 11-13, "why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances... after the commandments and doctrines of men?"

He had just explained the impact that the crucifixion should have had on their lives. "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;... Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]:" Jesus set aside the Law and showed that salvation is not by works but by faith alone. For anyone to remain dependent on obedience to the law in order to find God's grace is purely the folly of men.

Paul asked the Galatians a very similar question. "But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years." (Galatians 4:9-10) These rudiments of the world place people in bondage and are themselves weak. "(Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;)" They do not last, they enslave us and they accomplish nothing.

"Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom..." Obeying all of these religious laws, especially those that were invented by men, gives a strong appearance that one is very knowledgeable in spiritual things and very pious. These men seem to be willfully involved in worship and very humble.

"...and neglecting of the body;.." On this, Albert Barnes wrote , "Putting on sackcloth and ashes; subjecting it to painful fastings and penances; appearing in a form of squalid poverty, as if the body were not worth regarding, and as if the attention were so much engrossed by the nobler care of the soul, as to be entirely regardless of the body."

"...not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." There is no honor to be gained in these foolish religious practices. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Religion satisfies the flesh only. It may seem like neglecting the body does not satisfy the flesh, but it does. It makes the person feel like he has done something good, like he has drawn closer to God and like he is better than others who are less religious. However, God is not satisfied at all. He wants us to have a love relationship with His Son through a complete faith in His redemptive work. Jesus is the only one whose works have ever been pleasing to the Father.

Before The Throne:

Even the most pious of men sometimes feel like their works have pleased the Lord, but without faith it is impossible to please Him. Repent of those feelings and pray that God would keep you humble enough to give Him all the glory for everything you do. Ask Him to help you increase your love relationship with Jesus and give Him thanks for all things.

For Further Study:

(v.20)
** if. Col 3:3; Rom 6:2-11; Rom 7:4-6; Gal 2:19-20; Gal 6:14; 1Pet 4:1-3; ** from. Col 2:8; Eph 2:15; ** living. John 15:19; John 17:14-16; 2Cor 10:3; Jas 4:4; 1John 5:19; ** subject. Col 2:14, 16; Gal 4:3, 9-12; Heb 13:9;

(v.21) ** Gen 3:3; Isa 52:11; 2Cor 6:17; 1Tim 4:3;

(v.22) ** to. Mark 7:18-19; John 6:27; 1Cor 6:13; ** after. Isa 29:13, 18; Dan 11:37; Matt 15:3-9; Mark 7:7-13; Titus 1:14; Rev 17:18;

(v.23) ** a shew. Gen 3:5-6; Matt 23:27-28; 2Cor 11:13-15; 1Tim 4:3, 8; ** will. Col 2:8, 18, 22; ** neglecting. Eph 5:29;

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