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: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 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.
We no longer belong to the world! We have died with Christ and have been raised in new life. So why do we still submit to the rules we knew? Habit? Is there something tantalizing or cathartic? Do we feel pride or power? Are we able to exalt ourselves instead of trusting in Christ?
All of these rules make sense to us – they have the appearance of wisdom. At least the wisdom that seems wise to us in our fallen, muddled minds. There are things in life that are dangerous and it is wise to avoid them. It is wise for us to encourage others to avoid them. And if we don’t trust others , it is wise to make rules about such things – maybe call them sins. And especially if we don’t trust God with those we love, it would seem wise to put rules in place.
Rules make sense. They are wise. They are often appropriate. But ultimately, all rules must be submitted to the rule of Christ.
Don’t get me wrong – rules absolutely have value. And I’m certainly not saying that we don’t have to obey the laws of the land. Or our parents. Or God. Rules can help us control ourselves. They can help us teach our children. But these are not the rules that Paul is writing about.
He’s talking about a mentality that wants to earn our salvation by following rules – self-imposed worship, false humilty, and harsh treatment of the body – all of which have any value in restraining sensual desires. A mentality that doesn’t trust the work that Christ has done to be sufficient. He’s really speaking to a lack of faith.
Submit yourself first to Christ. Follow him. Make no mistake about it – everything is about Christ. Make sure He’s the highest priority. The highest rule. The greatest love.