Summary: The New Testament never requires sacrifices or dreams or visions as either the means or the indicator of spirituality. . . If we focus on Jesus and His word, we will remain anchored in truth and humility
16 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. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
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. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
During Lent some people cut out a favorite food or activity, or go on a spiritual sounding diet. Some start an activity, like going to church an extra day every week or helping at a soup kitchen. In some parts of the Church such sacrifices are lifelong commitments. Some attempt celibacy for the ministry. Paul is teaching that many of the tragedies and scandals in the Church, where priests have even abused children, could have been avoided if the Church had looked to Jesus, and avoided establishing unbiblical standards for Church leadership-standards that lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Still others measure their spirituality by the revelations they’ve seen or dreams they’ve dreamed. I once attended a service where a man spoke about a dream or vision he had of heaven. In his dream amazing beautiful things happened. Even flowers were talking. The problem is the flowers were telling him things that were contrary to the teaching of the Bible. I walked out of the meeting.
The New Testament never requires sacrifices or dreams or visions as either the means or the indicator of spirituality. Jesus taught tithing and fasting and prayer (Matthew 5-7). Peter taught that the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled in our era, anticipating that young men would see visions, old men dreams & that God’s Spirit would be poured out on all flesh-men, women, young & old, rich & poor (Acts 2). So there is nothing wrong with these things. The problem is with people who announce them and turn them into the basis of their spirituality. If we focus on Jesus and His word, we will remain anchored in truth and humility. If we focus on the activity, or inactivity, of spiritual discipline itself we are in danger of losing all we hope to gain. Jesus taught that such activities don’t make you spiritual, especially if you announce them to everyone (Matthew 5-7). What makes us truly spiritual is our relationship with Jesus. He is the Source of all good character, revelation, spiritual strength and prophecy.
Prayer for Today
I’m willing to give up anything for you.
Teach me to give up my pride. Like a child, I lift my hands to you. Lift me up. Draw me into your arms. Embrace me with your Spirit. Let me be poured out before you, and my Lord, please pour yourself into me. Let me hear your heart beat, and know your compassion. Let me hear your softest whisper. Let us all respond to your gentlest indicators. If you glance in the direction you want us to go, let us leap and run to do your will.
In the name of the One who brought everything in subjection to you, his Father (John 8:29),