Colossians Series: Self-Imposed Religion

Self-Imposed Religion

Colossians 2:20-23

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Colossians 2:20-23

Paul ends the chapter with a rhetorical question. If Christ has done this great thing for you, then why do you continue to try to earn righteousness and salvation? Well, it may have not been rhetorical in the sense that they needed to re-evaluate the “I can do this myself” theology, but it was rhetorical in the sense that this is an obvious thing. It’s a self-evident truth. Throughout the New Testament we see this theme: why are you trying to earn salvation?

Of course we are told to walk worthy of our salvation, but that is out of our love for Him, not a requirement for salvation.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

The terrible thing about human nature, fallen human nature that is, is that we want to be worthy. We strive for worthiness in our behavior. We want our parents to think we are worthy, our spouses, our children, our bosses, our peers. And though we strive for worthiness, we rarely validate others. It’s a funny thing.

So what then is the solution? Paul will give us more insight in Chapter 3but we need to look to what Christ did. That’s all the substance necessary.

Our worth to God was demonstrated in one horrific, awe-inspiring act that gave us the forgiveness and acceptance we all long for – His death on the cross.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Questions for Further Thought:

  • What is your impression of this passage?
  • Do you ever consider your worth to him?
  • Further Study: I encourage you to look up the following verses from which the text is based.
    • Ephesians 2:8
    • Galatians 5:18
    • Galatians 3:1-4
    • Romans 8:18
    • Romans 5:8
    • Philippians 1:27

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Bridget Willard

I’ve been a worship leader and teacher of women and children since 1997. I enjoy teaching people and encouraging them in their walk with the Lord.