Summary: A look at Colossians 2:20-23
Agnes de Rochier was the only daughter of one of the wealthiest merchants of Paris, and was admired by all for her beauty and virtue. In 1403 her father died leaving her all his wealth. Rumours of her supposed relationships with some of the young men in the area surfaced.
She determined to become a recluse and to live the rest of her life in a narrow cell built within the wall of a church. On the 5th of October, when the cell, which was only a few feet square, was finished in the wall of St. Opportune, Agnes entered her final abode.
The Bishop of Paris, attended by his chaplains and the canons of Notre Dame, entered the cell and celebrated a pontifical mass; he then approached the opening of the cell, sprinkled it with holy water, and after Agnes had said goodbye to her friends and relatives, ordered the masons to seal up the opening. This was done as strongly as stone and mortar could make it. The only opening left was a small hole through which she could hear the ceremonies and rites of the church and receive the offerings of food that charitable people gave her.
She was eighteen years old when she entered this living tomb, and she continued within it for eighty years until her death.
Many stories are told of those who sought to please God by denying self in their actions. A man chained himself with so many heavy chains that he could only crawl on his hands and knees.
One man spent 36 years sitting atop a 50 foot pole….believing that the path to spirituality would be found in exposing his body to the elements and withdrawing from the world. Another sat naked in a mosquito-infested swamp for six months until he looked like a victim of leprosy from the bites.
Still another refused to give in to his body’s desire for restful sleep.
For forty years he would not lie down while sleeping.
As a monk, even Martin Luther fell into this sort of thing before he became a believer.
He would lie naked in his cell all night long in the bitter cold and he would beat his body and torture himself, trying to find peace of heart.
He hoped that this would please God.
He thought that in torturing himself he would find peace in his soul.
Thankfully, God freed Martin Luther from this sort of thinking as he read the book of Romans and discovered the truth of justification by faith.
But what mistaken piety all this is!
I have four facts I want to share with you from today’s Scripture passage.
First, Jesus has set us free from the rules of the world.
“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:”
All these people I just mentioned practiced a religion of self-denial.
It seeks the favour of God by something man offers to God, and it rejects the cross as sufficient by itself.
Christianity is not just another religion.
Christianity is a relationship with God based on the finished work of Christ.
Jesus did all the doing;….we do none of it.
Jesus satisfied God’s righteous demands by His death for our sins.