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.
Christians should not be subject to ordinances and the Mosaic system because true believers are dead to these things. Christ fulfilled them? we are dead with Christ and our lives are “hid with Christ in God.” Paul is saying to the Colossians, “Why should you for one moment suffer these things to be imposed upon you, having received the Lord Jesus and knowing the divine command of God concerning sin and salvation? Since you have higher Authority concerning eternal matters, why should you return to the doctrines of men?”
2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the Law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the Law of her husband.
For the woman who has a husband is bound by the Law to her husband as long as he lives. The Laws relating to marriage strikingly illustrates that the authority of the Law is binding as long as life lasts. Both the Jewish and Roman Laws, required that a woman remain with her husband until the death of her husband; if she married another man while he was still alive, she was considered to be an adulterous—“And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mk 10:12).
The phrase, “the Law to her husband,” means the Law concerning the husband. The basis for this Law was given in Eden—“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24); in a legal sense it became Law when God gave the seventh commandment—“You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). The death of a woman’s first husband makes null and void her status as a wife in the eyes of the Law.
3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
If a woman marries another man while her husband is living, she is guilty of adultery. If, however, her husband dies, she is free to marry again without any cloud or guilt of doing the wrong thing. The phrase rendered “so that she is” can also be rendered “so that she may be.”
Some folk insist that divorce and remarriage is not permitted under any circumstances.
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the Law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the Law through the body of Christ. The body of Christ is that which was nailed to the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins. He came to “seek and to save that which was lost,” and to that end, He had to die. He took upon Himself flesh and blood, and assumed a human body in order to identify Himself with man—“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). That you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. Paul is saying that there is a parallel between the marriage between the wife and the second husband, and the union between the believer and Christ. When he says “we” in this passage, he is thinking of those who were Jews, before they came to Christ.
(2:21) “Do not handle! Do not taste!!”?
(2:22) These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.
Paul then points out such teachings as “Do not handle! Do not taste,” which were the watchwords of the false teachers in Colosse. Today we still have religions that are founded upon that same doctrine? completely negative. According to their teaching, you must “give up and let go” in order to get saved, and then “give up, let go, do not handle and do not taste” in order to stay saved. Such a doctrine demotes the Lord Jesus and limits the power of God.
Bible scholars do not fully agree as to what Paul meant here in verses 21 and 22, but I personally believe he is saying that meats and drinks perish or cease to exist because they are consumed for the support of natural life, which is the purpose for which they were created and intended when properly used.
Christ’s death cleared the way for all people to come to God. It cleared away the sin that keeps us from having a right relationship with our creator. This does not mean that everyone has been saved, but that the way has been cleared for anyone who will trust Christ to be saved. God gives salvation to all those who by faith accept Christ’s death for themselves. Salvation is entirely of the Lord, while the things which man consumes are perishable. All creation is cursed. Before sin came there was no killing or bloodshed; Adam was a vegetarian and would have remained so had he not sinned. Meats are for the body, and our Lord Himself said, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them” (Matthew 15:11, 18).
No one is good enough to save himself. If we want to live eternally with Christ, we must depend totally on God’s grace. This is true whether we have been murderers or honest hardworking citizens. We have all sinned repeatedly, and any sin is enough to cause us to depend on Jesus Christ for salvation and eternal life. Apart from Christ, there is no way to be saved from sin. It is a basic truth of Christianity that anyone who thinks he is good is really good, least of all the man who thinks he is better than other people.
Paul says that this is a return to unchristian slavery instead of Christian freedom and that in any event, it does not free a man from fleshly lusts but only keeps them on a leash. Christian freedom does not come from restraining desires by rules and regulations but from the death of evil desires and the springing to life of good desires by virtue of Christ being in the Christian and the Christian in Christ.
Christianity and spirituality are not based on external ceremonies or upon that which we eat or drink. The gross error in this teaching is the looking for holiness in outward things rather than in the inward things of the heart. Such error is common in the church today. Men seek to be righteous and holy by abstaining from meats, drinks, and habits of life; but holiness is born in the heart of the believer. Christ is our holiness, and He abides within if we are truly born again. Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart, and to make the outside of the vessel clean will not satisfy God. It is not what we put into our mouth that makes or takes away spirituality: it is what we harbor in the heart.
It is a gross sin to make a glutton of oneself in eating or drinking, but the individual child of God is to be led by the Spirit? not dictated to or dominated by a preacher, whether it is a pastor or evangelist. If pork destroys your body you should not eat pork. But if, insofar as you know and your doctor advises, pork is not detrimental to your health, then it is not a sin to eat pork or any other meat, on any day, seven days of the week. Likewise, if coffee or tea is harmful to your health you should not drink them; but if they do not hurt you physically, then certainly it is no sin to drink these beverages. We should not eat to excess? we should be temperate in all things; but no minister has authority on the basis of the Word of God to dictate to his parishioners what they can eat, drink or wear, so long as they conduct themselves in a Christian manner.
Christianity is not a system of rules, regulations or ordinances. Christianity is “Christ in you”?and with Christ in you, you have liberty? because “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed!” To destroy the body is suicide? and whether we do it gradually by overeating or suddenly by taking an overdose of sleeping pills, it is wrong to destroy the body God gave us and in which the Holy Spirit dwells. If you are a believer, your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost and you should be very careful how you treat it, dress it and care for it. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Pastors are not to be “lords over God’s heritage” (1 Peter 5:3). True pastors are God’s undershepherds? and the shepherd leads the sheep, he does not drive them.