Colossians 2:20-22

Touch Not, Taste Not, Handle Not



1. Paul has been exposing the errors of the false teachers in Colossae.

a. This cult was difficult to define. We don’t know exactly what their theological system was… but we do have some hints.

b. It was a strange mixture… an eclectic arrangement of philosophies and theologies that don’t really seem to blend together well.

c. It included Greek Philosophy, Pagan asceticism, as well as Jewish legalism and ritualism.

2. In dealing with these aspects of this cult, Paul points out their error AND he warns the Colossian believers:

a. 1:8 – Don’t let any man spoil you with these things! [tradition and philosophy]

b. 2:16 – Don’t let any man judge you on such matters. [Jewish legalism]

c. 2:18 – Don’t let any man beguile you of your reward by holding something other than Christ the Head. [interest in mysticism, angels, and visions]

d. 2:20 – Don’t let any man subject you to their earthly practices. [asceticism]

3. Their errors were all related to Christ.

a. 1:8c – their philosophies and traditions were after men and not after Christ.

b. 2:17 – their Jewish legalism was a shadow, but the body is of Christ.

c. 2:19 – they were holding on to their own heads which were vainly puffed up, and not holding the Head.

4. The doctrinal section in Colossians is coming to an end and the practical exhortations begin.

a. Before entering into his practical section on the Christian walk, Paul reminds us all that we DIED with Christ (2:20a) and that we were RAISED UP with Christ (3:1).

b. The exhortations are BASED upon this positional truth about our UNION with Christ in His death and resurrection… and the MYSTERY of us IN Christ and Christ IN us!

c. If this is true (and it is!), then it relates to virtually every aspect of living the Christian life.

5. This morning we are going to look at ONE aspect that Paul mentions in this context: How our UNION with Christ affects asceticism.

Asceticism: What Is It?

1. Pagan ascetics, like the Jewish legalists, formulated a long list of ordinances – requirements and forbidden things.

a. However, ascetic ordinances were different from the legalist in their motivation.

b. The Jewish legalist (Judaizers) put Gentiles under Jewish laws: circumcision; holy days; Levitical dietary laws; etc. They believed that God REQUIRED adherence to their ordinances in order to be saved or to be sanctified.

c. The ascetic believed that adherence to their ordinances would ultimately CONQUER the sin nature, or at least keep it under control.

2. Various ascetic practices stemmed from a common belief.

a. They, like the Gnostics believed that matter was evil and thus, they believed that the body was evil.
i. They believed that bodily appetites were also evil.
ii. Physical pleasure was looked upon with disdain.

b. Therefore, they concluded that all bodily appetites were to be starved.
i. They promoted fasting, abstaining from meats, celibacy, rigid dietary laws, self flagellation, only the roughest garments, sleeping on hard beds, vows of poverty, and
ii. They often cloistered themselves away in communes, away from the “world.”

c. I Tim. 4:1-3 – Paul states that when such practices as fasting and celibacy are forced upon believers, they are in fact, doctrines of demons!
i. It’s fine to CHOOSE to fast or not eat meat, or to remain single.
ii. But the ascetics required it and made their requirements laws… not much different from Jewish legalism.

d. Rigid ascetic thinking and practices have been the norm in the Roman church for many centuries.
i. Celibacy; restrictions on eating meat; Lent, priestly flagellation; monks living in isolation; vows of poverty.
ii. The thinking has been that since the body is evil, the way to deal with the body and its appetites is to STARVE it… make it suffer… hurt it… make it bleed…
iii. Hence, they saw religious merit in walking up stone stairways on one’s bare knees until they bled…
iv. They assumed that the more you made your body suffer, the more holy you would be… and the closer to God.
v. They assumed (wrongly!) that the way to improve and liberate the soul from sin was to make the body suffer.

3. The false teachers in Colossae had drawn up a list of ascetic ordinances.

a. Vs. 21 – “Touch not, taste not, handle not.”
i. In this expression Paul is summarizing the teachings of the false teachers.
ii. They had developed their own list of taboos…
iii. They added restrictions where God did not.
iv. This is part of our nature. God said, “Thou shalt not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Eve added, “neither shall ye touch it”…

b. They assumed (wrongly!) that the more things they didn’t do, the holier they were!
i. It was extremely NEGATIVE.
ii. To them, holiness meant NOT doing this, not touching that, not tasting this…etc.
iii. But by doting over all those ordinances, they were NOT holding Christ the Head! Their ordinances had all the preeminence in their system, not Christ.
iv. True holiness and spirituality are measured by the GOOD FRUIT of Christlike character… not by how many things we avoid… or by how many things we are against.
v. Christianity is demonstrated by how much of Christ is seen in us… not by how many things we are against.
vi. Of course there ARE many things we should avoid as believers.
vii. But simply AVOIDING things does not make us holy… nor does it transform us into the image of Christ.
viii. When an atheist or an unsaved religious man chooses to live a life of celibacy, or chooses to give up drinking, he is not any closer to God than before. Such ordinances do not save nor do they sanctify.

c. And notice that their ordinances related entirely to the earthly, physical senses… to the body and not to the soul or spirit.

d. The ascetics believed that holiness was obtained by depriving the body of pleasure, comfort, and starving its appetites.

e. It was a rigid, austere lifestyle—not unlike the Roman and Buddhist monks.

f. They were obsessed with the clothing that they wore; the foods that they ate; the things they came in contact with; cleanliness.

g. Their view was that the spirit in man is good, but it is trapped in an evil, physical body.

h. They taught that the more we can cause the body to suffer, the better off the spirit will be… until death, when finally the spirit is FREE from the body. (Of course they had a hard time with the doctrine of resurrection!)

i. But they were dead wrong in their views. The Spirit of the unsaved man is not alive and well but trapped in a body. The spirit of the unsaved man is DEAD in trespasses and sin!

j. And NOTHING we can DO to the body will bring life to that spirit!

k. Ascetic practices can NEVER bring eternal life.

l. Nor can they help us draw nearer to Christ once saved.

m. Life comes from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, not through such austere practices!

n. Sanctification comes through the work of the Holy Spirit, not by subjecting ourselves to ascetic practices. We are transformed into the image of Christ, even by the Spirit of God.

Positional Truth: We Died With Christ

A. IF Ye Be Dead With Christ

1. A. T. Robertson: Condition of the first class, assumed as true.

2. Wuest: It is, “in view of the fact that you died with Christ,” or, “if, as is the case, you died with Christ.”

3. A couple Bible translations translate this phrase: SINCE died with Christ.

4. Paul’s point is that the Colossian believers (all believers of this age) DID die with Christ.

a. This is not a debatable point. It is true of EVERY true believer today.

b. Our faith unites us with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection!

c. Our old man was crucified with Him and that changes everything! (Rom. 6:6)

5. Death frees us from bondage.

a. 2:11- our death with Christ severed us from our former relationship to the indwelling sin nature.

b. 2:13-14 – our death with Christ severed us from any former relationship to the Law.

c. 2:20 – now Paul emphasizes that our death with Christ separated us from our former relationship to the rudiments of the world system.

B. We Died With Christ to the World

1. Gal. 6:14 – we died to the world and the world unto us.

a. Since our old man (who LOVED the world) is dead, the world system has NO attraction to our new man in Christ.

b. There is obviously an attraction to our old sinful nature… sin still dwells within us, and we can fall prey to its lusts if we are not careful.

c. But when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, faith keeps that old man on the cross… and we will walk in NEWNESS of life…

d. The new man, living in the heavenlies, filled with the Spirit, controlled by his NEW nature, and operating by faith has no attraction to the world. He is dead to it.

e. The world system that crucified our Lord is repulsive to the believer.

f. The world cannot allure a dead man… and we are dead.

g. As long as we walk by faith (believing what God said here), the world will not have the same attraction to us it once had.

h. Now that we died with Christ to the world and have been raised with Christ into heavenly places, the affections of the new man are to be set on things above… things that are higher, things that are nobler!

i. Our death with Christ on the cross changes everything for the new creature in Christ. Old things are passed away… all things are become new.

2. Dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world.

a. Rudiments: ABC’s, basic principles; elementary truths; primary and fundamental principles of any art, science, or discipline.

b. It had several meanings attached to it: (1) the elementary sounds or letters, the ABCs; (2) the basic elements of the universe, as in 2 Peter 3:10–12; (3) the basic elements of knowledge, the ABCs of a particular discipline or teaching.

c. We died with Christ to the rudiments of the world. All of those basic earthly ordinances have no claim on a dead man!

d. Gal.4:3, 9 – the term speaks of the elements of the world as legalistic ordinances…
i. The Galatian believers were influenced by the Judaizers to turn BACK to the shadows and symbols of Judaism as a way of life.
ii. The elements here refer to basic ceremonial, ritualistic ordinances in Israel which were (worldly) EARTHLY… as opposed to our heavenly blessings in Christ.
iii. They were mere shadows: Temple; animal sacrifices; ceremonies; holy days; feast days; dietary laws.
iv. These were all visible, tangible, and earthly.
v. The Judaizers attempted to put the Galatians back under portions of the Mosaic Law… which would put them under a yoke their fathers were not able to bear.
vi. It would drive them back to the earthly Temple and the earthly priesthood—when as Christians; we have a heavenly tabernacle and a heavenly High Priest!
vii. The false teachers in Colossae were attempting something similar.
viii. Only in Colossae, the false teachers were attempting to put the Colossians under a slightly different kind of yoke: a strange mixture of Jewish legalism and asceticism.

e. Col. 2:8 – The expression “rudiments of the world” as the ABC’s of the world… or the basics of the way the world operates…
i. John defines this as “the lusts of the flesh, the lust of eyes, and the pride of life.” (I John 2:15)
ii. Paul defines it in I Cor. 15:19 as a “this life only” mentality.
iii. This false philosophy appealed to the BASICS of worldly thinking: the lusts of the flesh and the eyes… and especially to human pride. (Be all you can be! You’re special! Ye shall be as gods!)
iv. Legalistic ordinances do just that. They appeal to the flesh and to human pride.
v. Keep this tradition; observe this rule; keep this holy day and then GLORY in what self has accomplished—pride of life!

f. There are some basic, elementary principles upon which the world system operates.
i. This life is all there is: lay up your treasures on earth.
ii. Take care of #1: put self first.
iii. You only go around once in life: grab for all the gusto you can… and he who dies with the most toys wins! Eat, drink, and be merry!
iv. Ye shall be as gods! You can be anything you want to be!
v. There are 1001 various expressions of it… but they all revolve around one unifying principle: give self preeminence and live for today… and don’t worry about eternity.
vi. What matters is: me, the here, and now—as opposed to God, heaven, and eternity. It was the thinking of Esau… a man of the world.
vii. The SOURCE of these elementary things is the world and not after Christ. (2:8)

g. Col. 2:20 – Paul states that we DIED to the rudiments of the world: that worldly way of thinking, that earthly way of life.
i. We were crucified with Christ.
ii. Our old man lived that way; believed that way; he lived for self, the here and now.
iii. Death separated us from the world. We are no longer OF the world. We don’t think like they do any more. We no longer share their goals and philosophies. We have outright rejected their world view.
iv. That is our OLD way of thinking and believing and living. We don’t have to think that way any more. Our old man—who was a slave of the world system—died!
v. And death sets us free from the world and the rudiments of the world’s philosophy.
vi. Things that are higher, things that are nobler, these have allured my mind!
vii. We are DEAD to the ways of the world… but ALIVE unto the heavenly ways of Christ! (3:1)
»Christianity is completely different than the traditions and philosophies of men. One originated from the head of an earthly creature… man. The other originated from our heavenly Head, Christ!
»Thus, Christianity is completely different than Judaism… Judaism was earthly… Christianity is heavenly.
»As Christians, we are citizens of heaven already. This world is not our home. We are but tent dwellers here.
»As we sojourn here, we are to be occupied with Christ and things above, not the things of the earth.

Behavior That is Incongruent With Our Position

A. As Living in the World

1. In light of those facts, Paul asks a penetrating question to those who have become enamored by the ascetic practices of the false teachers: WHY?!

a. WHY are you subject to earthly ordinances?
i. The false teachers were attempting to SUBJECT the believers to their earthly rules and rituals.
ii. They were not Jewish legalists, but ascetics.
iii. Col. 2:14 – However, the cross separated the believer from ALL such earthly ordinances. The whole concept of being related to God by means of ordinances was nailed to the cross!
iv. Touch not, taste not, and handle not…
v. The false teachers made up a list of earthly, man made ordinances and attempted to bring the Colossians under subjection to their rules… under their rule.
vi. And remember, if the Colossians were under THEIR rule – THEIR headship, they were not subject to Christ and His Headship.
vii. There can only be one head per body!

b. Paul could easily have said, DON’T subject yourselves to those ordinances. That is what he meant.

c. But he chose a teaching technique designed to drive this truth deep into the hearts of the Colossian believers.

d. He wanted them to think about WHY they were doing what they were doing!

e. Rather than just command them NOT to… he digs into their minds and consciences. He wants them to THINK through this issue. (God wants US to think through this matter).

f. It is always GOOD to do the right thing. But it is far BETTER to do the right thing for the right reason… with the right motive, and with the right attitude.

g. Hence, Paul asks them to think about WHY they would ever subject themselves to the earthly ordinances.

2. He asks them to think WHY they would subject themselves to such earthly ordinances in light of the facts of their position.

a. They DIED with Christ to the rudiments of the world.

b. They DIED to earthly ways of thinking… and living.

c. They are new creatures… raised up into heavenly places in Christ. (3:1)

d. The fact that our position is in Christ in heaven ought to CHANGE our outlook concerning the things of this world.

e. As heavenly citizens, focused on Christ our heavenly Head, the things of earth should grow strangely dim.

f. Rom. 7:4 – We died to legalism in all of its forms as a way of life, and are now married to and SUBJECT to Christ.
i. If we really are subject to Christ, we are subject to Him and His Word ALONE.
ii. It is totally inconsistent for one who has been raised up into heavenly places in Christ and subject to Him, to be subject to earthly, religious ordinances.
iii. The church is the bride and the bride is to subject herself to her husband and NO ONE ELSE!
iv. By subjecting themselves to ascetic practices as their rule of life, they were demonstrating UNFAITHFULNESS to Christ.

g. Placing oneself under rigid ascetic practices does NOT draw us any nearer to God.
i. We are God’s SONS. You can’t get any closer to a Father than to be in His family!
ii. We are the BRANCHES on the Vine. You don’t get any closer to the Vine than that!
iii. We are His BRIDE. You can’t have a closer relationship to a Person than marriage!
iv. We are His BODY. You can’t get any closer to a person than being a member of His body!

h. Because of our relationship to Christ by faith and our UNION with Him in His death and resurrection, we couldn’t possibly be any closer to Him.
i. Our position in Christ is settled. We have entered into the closest possible relationship to Christ by faith.
ii. THEREFORE—submitting to ascetic practices will never help but only hinder our relationship to Christ.
iii. Ascetic practices consist of that which is earthly and physical and relate to the body, the outward man.
iv. But our relationship to Christ is heavenly and spiritual and deals with the inner man… the soul and spirit.
v. Ascetic practices deal with the outside of the cup; while God is interested in transforming the inside of the cup.

i. We are married to Christ and subject to Him. WHY would we want to be subject to anyone or anything else?!?!?!
i. Paul is FORCING the Colossians to think through this issue.
ii. Rom. 6:18 – who are you going to subject yourselves to? Whose servants are you anyway?
iii. Paul forces them to THINK about WHO they are giving preeminence to… WHO really is the Head of the Body?
iv. We function as servants to the one to whom we subject ourselves.
v. So WHY would we ever want to subject ourselves to men and their earthly ordinances, when we have the glorious privilege of subjecting ourselves to our heavenly Savior and His life transforming Word?!?!

3. A modern, mutated form of asceticism still plagues us.

a. Many believers today, especially those saved from a Roman Catholic Church background have certain assumptions ingrained in them from childhood—that are hard to break—even after being saved.

b. The concept of WORKS is ingrained in us all.

c. But a strange ascetic form of that works concept seems to survive in believers today… at least in our region… which is so heavily influenced by Romanism.

d. It is common for folks to think that somehow there is still intrinsic MERIT in suffering and sacrificing. There is NOT.

e. Suffering and sacrifice all by themselves have NO spiritual value whatsoever. This is a form of asceticism.

f. Suffering and sacrifice are of GREAT value if used for the greater goal of bringing glory to God.

g. Fasting: If you give up a meal in order to spend lunchtime praying there is merit in the prayer.
i. But there is NO merit in simply fasting for the sake of fasting.
ii. A fast just for the sake of a fast might help you lose weight, but has NO spiritual value.

h. Sacrificing one’s wealth: I Cor.13:3 – even sacrificing all of one’s wealth has no spiritual value before God…

i. Giving and sacrifice is good when done for others. The merit comes from a heart that is led of the Lord… and willing to put others first. That’s love! There is much merit in that.
i. Paul gives an example of one who gives all his goods away, but has no agape love. His sacrifice is not selfless, but actually selfish!
ii. Even taking a vow of poverty CAN even be used to feed the flesh’s pride! (See how good I am… see how holy I am!)

j. Poverty: Heb. 11:24-27 – Moses chose to suffer affliction with God’s people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of the Egyptian court.
i. But there was no merit in being poor.
ii. The merit lay in the fact that when FORCED to make a choice, Moses chose God and God’s people over Egypt!
iii. Being poor is not superior to being wealthy. They BOTH have their challenges.
iv. Taking a vow of poverty doesn’t make you holy.

k. Pain and suffering: Imagine a believer locked up in solitary confinement and tortured for his faith. There is great reward. The reward comes for his faithfulness and dedication to God and refusal to compromise… not from suffering for suffering’s sake.
i. But there is no merit in solitary confinement… or a monastic life… there is no spiritual value to being whipped…
ii. The apostle John will receive a reward for being banished to the isle of Patmos: for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. But if you banished yourself to live on Patmos there is no merit in that!
iii. A martyr will be rewarded for being burned at the stake for Christ. He “loved not his life unto death.” (Rev. 12:11)
iv. But don’t try burning yourself at the stake! There’s no merit in that. That’s suicide!
v. II John 2 – “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health.”
vi. Don’t choose to be penniless, sick, and suffering. But if God allows it, then USE it for His glory!
vii. Any spiritual benefit comes from what we DO with suffering… and what we LEARN through suffering… not from the suffering itself.

l. A person can lock himself up in a monastery, whip himself all day long, and starve his body (and many have done this!), but there is absolutely NO spiritual value to it whatsoever.

m. These ascetic practices have been prominent in paganism for centuries.
i. The priests of Baal cutting themselves to get Baal to answer them;
ii. Muslims cutting their heads with swords in parades;
iii. Catholics walking on their knees up stone stairways till they bleed.
iv. Buddhist monks living in caves;
v. For centuries men have subjected themselves to the most austere conditions in hopes of meriting favor before God— and there is no merit in any of it!

n. Suffering and sacrifice are only a MEANS to an end, not the end itself.

o. Asceticism sees suffering as a meritorious end in itself – and therein lies its fatal error.
p. It is an expression of UNBELIEF… (Christ’s sufferings were not enough; I need to add mine too.) (Rome’s: sufferings of the saints.)

4. WHY?! That’s a good question.

a. In essence, Paul is saying DON’T do it! Don’t subject yourselves to those earthly ordinances.

b. 2:8 – Don’t let them spoil you; 2:16 – Don’t let them judge you; 2:18 – Don’t let them beguile you; 2:20 – don’t let them subject you!

c. This is a long series of warnings concerning the false teachers in Colossae and their errors.

d. There is NO spiritual value to their ordinances…

e. But there is a great DANGER: it takes the focus off heaven and places it on earth; it takes our eyes away from Christ and causes us to be looking unto self. We end up holding on to the vain, puffed up head of the false teacher and are not holding Christ—the Head—the source of all strength and nourishment!

5. As THOUGH living in the world…

a. Subjecting oneself to such man-made ordinances is behavior that is AS THOUGH they were STILL in the world.

b. By submitting to those man made ordinances, they were behaving as if they had NOT died with Christ to the world… as if they had NOT been raised up with Christ.

c. But as believers we DID die to the world and we do NOT live in the earthly realm any more. We have been raised with Christ and are energized by the resurrection life of Christ.

d. We live in a new sphere as new creatures.

e. They were doting over the earthly, physical things and ignoring the much more important things!

f. Matt. 23:23-25 – they were obsessed with the external things… straining over a gnat, but swallowing a camel! Majoring in the minor things and ignoring the major issues!

g. By submitting to man made, earthly ordinances, they were behaving as though they were STILL in the world… and had NOT been crucified to the world and raised up into heavenly places!

h. So if you ARE dead with Christ to the world, WHY would you behave as though you had not died with Him… and still living in the world?

i. This kind of behavior (doting over earthly things) does not line with truth… with doctrine… with our glorious heavenly position.

j. Worldliness is living as if still living by the world’s thinking and the world’s rules… the commandments and doctrines of men.
i. These ordinances, commandments, and doctrines did not come from our heavenly Head, but from earthly, worldly men… men vainly puffed up in their fleshly minds! (vs.18c)
ii. WHY would we want to live by the world’s standards and be worldly, when God says that friendship with the world is enmity with God?!? Why?!
iii. Why would we want to LOWER our standards to the world’s standards… and submit to ordinances made by men of the earth?

k. Our standard is our heavenly High Priest… our resurrected Head: Christ. Moses brought the law… and men continue to bring laws and ordinances… but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
i. Why lower our heaven-high standard to that which is earthly?
ii. Do you really think that if we abandon such rules, and cling solely to Christ, and are filled with the Holy Spirit, that God is going to lead us to do something IMPURE?
iii. Gal. 5:23 – after describing the fruit of the Spirit Paul says, against such there is no law!
iv. If we walk in the Spirit we will NOT fulfill the lusts of the flesh. (Gal. 5:16)
v. Rom. 8:4 – the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
vi. We are not under the Law—be it Jewish legalism or ascetic legalism. We are under GRACE… we are subject to Christ.
vii. And that is a much HIGHER rule of life. Don’t stoop to anything earthly in nature. Don’t let these folks spoil you, judge you, beguile you, or subject you.
viii. Hold on to the Head and His Word. That’s all we need for life and godliness.

1. John 17:15-16 – we are still IN the world, but are no longer OF the world.

a. We don’t hold the views of the world any more.

b. We don’t operate on a this life only perspective. We view life from eternity’s perspective.

c. This world is no longer our home. Our real home is in glory… the New Jerusalem.

d. Our real treasures, our real affections are on things above… for we died and our new life is hidden with Christ in God…

e. The things of earth have grown strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace!

f. We live IN the world and have to deal with the things of the earth… we have to eat; drink; clothe ourselves; go to work; take care of our bodies; pay our bills; make purchases; buy a home and maintain it.

g. But we are not OF the world. These earthly things are no longer an end in themselves. They are merely a MEANS to a greater end: that of bringing glory to God…by maintaining a testimony on earth.

h. We are not to be occupied with these earthly means, but are to be occupied with the heavenly END. We have to USE these earthly means just to live in this physical world. But our lives do not consist of those THINGS.

i. I Cor. 7:31 – And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. (The reason: FOR we know that this world is not all there is! We don’t have a this life only attitude)

j. Luke 12:15 – Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

k. We all live in the world. We all must use the things in the world. But our heart attitude towards it all is radically different!

B. Why Emphasize that Which is So Temporal? (vs. 22)

1. Ascetic ordinances are all temporal: they PERISH with the using.

a. Example: food – use it (eat it) and it perishes… it’s gone.

b. Example: money – use it (spend it) and it is gone.

c. Example: clothing – use it (wear it) and it perishes… it wears out… it’s gone.

d. Example: our body – we use it and ultimately it perishes. It’s gone!

e. Example: anything we touch, taste, or handle, is by its very nature, earthly, physical, and therefore temporal, and will eventually perish.

2. So why dote over that which is temporal and perishing?

a. There are much more important issues: that which is spiritual and eternal!

b. Things such as love, grace, mercy, holiness, righteousness, purity, longsuffering, kindness, etc…

c. Christianity isn’t about food, clothing, money, and our bodies. It is about Christ in us… and us being transformed into His image!

d. So why strain at earthly gnats and IGNORE Christ and His character which the Holy Spirit desires to develop in us?

e. Matt. 7:18 – Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;? 19Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

f. Food cannot defile us… they just pass through us. They are temporal… and perish as soon as we eat them.

g. I Cor. 8:8 – But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better?; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

h. Don’t obsess over the physical things. Let’s face it: no matter what we eat… no matter how hard we discipline our bodies… eventually we are going to get sick and die.

i. I Tim. 4:8 – Bodily exercise does profit… and being careful over our diets does profit in this life. But GODLINESS is profitable in this life and in the life to come!

j. Concentrate on more lasting things: Christlike character… holiness… the fruit of the Sprit…

k. The fruit of the Spirit is far more important than the doctrines and ordinances of men!

3. Emphasizing the earthly and temporal things is the ESSENCE of worldliness. (This life only attitude.)

a. II Cor. 4:16-18 – how DISCOURAGING to dwell upon that which is temporal and earthly!
i. Dwelling upon our earthly condition is vain: doting over our health, our body, our finances, our possessions, and all the other things we can touch, taste, or handle.
ii. They are ALL perishing!
iii. Our outer man is perishing too… but if we concentrate on Christ and eternal things, our inward man is being RENEWED…
iv. The older we get, the more the things we touch, taste, and handle perish. Our money gets spent… our time gets spent… our homes begin to crumble… our bodies grow old and weary… the world is waxing worse and worse!
v. Don’t dote over earthly things. Use them, but don’t abuse them. Use them for your health; use them for the creature comforts they afford… enjoy the things God has blessed you with… but don’t hold on to them too tightly. Don’t give them more attention than they deserve.
vi. Don’t live as if this life was all we had – how depressing!
vii. But this life or this world is NOT all there is.
viii. Set your affection on things above!
ix. We look not at the things which are seen… which are temporal… but at the things which are not seen and are eternal!

4. But most importantly, when we emphasize that which is earthly and temporal, we are NOT holding the Head!

a. Vs. 22c – The ascetic ordinances originated with men

b. I Tim. 4:1 – but those ascetic practices can be traced back even beyond their human authors to demonic influence!

c. Those who cling to rituals, ceremonies, dietary laws, holy days, etc… are following the earthly ways of fallen men and fallen angels!

d. And what’s worse, by following those ways in order to produce holiness, are in essence DENYING that Christ is all we need.

e. They are clinging to shadows, rituals, and ordinances, but are NOT holding the Head.

f. That is NOT the way spiritual growth occurs.

g. Hence, this is another good reason not to submit to the ascetic ordinances.

h. We died with Christ and have been delivered from the earthly realm of man… and have been raised up into a heavenly sphere where Christ is all in all!

i.That was the problem with EACH one of the errors Paul brings up in this section.
i. 1:8c – their philosophies and traditions were after men and not after Christ.
ii. 2:17 – their Jewish legalism was only a shadow, but the body is of Christ.
iii. 2:19 – they were holding on to their own heads, vainly puffed up, and not holding Christ, the Head.

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