Summary: If we think we can live the Christian life by following rules and forgetting about loving others, we have missed the point. The Christian life can be summed up in one word: love.
“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. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col. 2:16-17).
I. God does not want you to follow a list of MAN-MADE RULES.
• In Canada, you may not pay for a fifty-cent item with only pennies; citizens may not publicly remove bandages; it is illegal for clear or non-dark sodas to contain caffeine; businesses must provide rails for tying up horses; wooden logs may not be painted.
• In Augusta, Maine, to stroll down the street playing a violin is against the law.
• In Barre, Vermont, all residents shall bathe every Saturday night.
• In New Hampshire, you may not tap your feet, nod your head, or in any way keep time to the music in a tavern, restaurant, or cafe.
• In the White Mountain National Forest, if a person is caught raking the beaches, picking up litter, hauling away trash, building a bench for the park, or many other kind things without a permit, he/she may be fined $150 for ’’maintaining the national forest without a permit’’.
• In Massachusettes, at a wake, mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches; snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked; tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder; all men must carry a rifle to church on Sunday; no gorilla is allowed in the back seat of any car.
Dumb Christian rules
LEGALISM = The religion of HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT. It can take two forms: (1) Some people think they can earn salvation by obeying biblical commands. (2) Some people think they can become spiritual by following man-made rules.
There were some people in Colosse who were telling the believers that they had to follow the Old Testament law concerning religious festivals, New Moon celebrations, and Sabbath days.
A shadow has no reality; the reality is what makes the shadow. Jesus Christ is the reality to which the shadows pointed. (For example, there is no need for Christians to observe the Passover. “Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7).)
Someone has said, “Having rules in the head is no substitute for obedience from the heart.”
“Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship with Jesus Christ”—partly true. Our religion (obedience to Christ’s commands) flows out of our relationship with Him.
II. God does not want you to put on a SHOW.
If your religion only consists of following a list of rules, you will begin to focus only on outward appearance rather than inward reality.
“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7b).
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matt. 23:27-28).
Legalism is dangerously deceptive, because inwardly rebellious and disobedient Christians, or even non-Christians, can conform to a set of external performance standards or rituals.
True spirituality does not consist merely of keeping external rules, but of having an inner relationship with Jesus Christ.
III. God does not want you to be JUDGMENTAL.
“Do not let anyone judge you” = Do not sacrifice your freedom in Christ for a set of man-made rules.
The false teachers were telling the Colossians that it was not enough to have Christ; they also needed to keep the Jewish ceremonial law.
Don’t say, “I’m glad he’s speaking on this today because so-and-so really needs to hear this.” We all need to hear this.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1-5).
Warning: Some people have an extreme interpretation of this passage. We can lovingly confront an error in another person’s life, but we should not be quick to judge or judge hypocritically (like the Pharisees).