Summary: The principle, "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle" describes the whole negative character of legalism.
Lesson: IVD1 - Having Died With Christ To The World (Colossians 2:20-22)
Scripture: Colossians 2:20-22 (NIV)
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:
21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?
22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.
Christ died for us, and all who have trusted Him are looked at by God as having died with Him: His death is our death. Then why, as people still living in the flesh, should we be subject to worldly rituals and ordinances? By the cross we are crucified to the world; we have died to sin; we have become dead to the law. Such things belong to a sphere we have left behind by death. Why be concerned with that which was intended (in the Jewish dispensation of law) to be only temporary and to which we have died?
The principle, "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle" (21) describes the whole negative character of legalism. If this is the sum of one's religion, he is certainly left empty, though sadly puffed up as though he were full. These things perish when they are used. A balloon is only for amusement, quickly deflated and gone. Christianity is not ordinances, but Christ who has in His own blessed Person displaced the whole system of Judaism? the dispensation set up by the commandment and doctrine of God. How much more so have the commandments and doctrines of men which have been added to Judaism?
The apostle grants that such things have an appearance of wisdom. Otherwise, they would not have been an enticement. But such commandments are rooted in "self-imposed religion," a religion dictated by people's thoughts of what is convenient, not in submission to the word and will of God. Thus their pretended humility is merely the pride of the flesh. In this pretended humility the body and its needs are often deliberately neglected. It has no value whatsoever but rather increases fleshly pride. True fasting is not in showing off to others, but honest self-sacrifice before God.
(2:20) Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:
In this verse, Paul is saying to all believers, “Since you died with Christ from the rudiments [basic principles] of the world by the death of Christ, because Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to all who believe. He came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it, and this He did literally. Since this is true, why should believers entertain the thought of returning to the rudiments of the world? The believer is dead to the Law . . . dead to ordinances; why then return to these dead forms when the reality is ours in Christ?”
Paul illustrates this in Romans 7:2-4 [See below]: The wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if the husband be dead she is free to marry another. In Galatians 2:19 we are clearly told that believers are “dead to the law.” Therefore, if we are believers, we have died with the Lord, we are crucified with Him, risen with Him, and all things having been made new we are to walk in newness of life? not in the oldness of the letter. The Colossian believers had nothing more to do with rudiments of the world, with ordinances and Law; they were free in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Colossian church were those who still practiced the Jewish rituals and ceremonies, while others went even beyond this, worshiping angels and spirits. As we have seen, the Jews had a highly-developed doctrine of angels and the Gnostics believed in all kinds of intermediaries. They worshiped these, while the Christian knows that worship must be kept for God and Jesus Christ. However, the main error of the false teachers was the attempt to impose upon the believers the ceremonial yoke of the Mosaic system. They were also teaching the deadly doctrine of communication between man and the spirit world; today the doctrine is known as “Spiritism.”
The apostle tells us that we believers are “dead with Christ.” Just as Christ by His death canceled the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and vanquished Satan and all his hosts, so the believer, united with Christ in His death, shares in the triumph of that death. He is free; he rises into a new life, not under the tyranny of the old Law, with its demands and penalties, but in allegiance to Christ. He has passed into another sphere of existence. Worldly ordinances have ceased to have any value for him because his worldly life has ended. They belong to the realm of the transitory and perishable; he has been translated into the realm of the free and the eternal.