“23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Col. 2:23).
The matter of “self-made” religion was an issue only for the first century, right? The Christians in Colossians were confronted by it by those who made up requirements for approaching God. God has never approved of “self-made” religion and worship.
Jeroboam offered self-made religion and it ruined Israel. Cain offered self-made religion to God and it was rejected. The Canaanites had their self-made religion and Israel adopted Ba’al worship by worshiping on every high hill and under every lush tree (Dt. 12:2; Jer. 2:20; Ezek. 16:13). All “self-made” religion is displeasing to God. Why so?
It is against faith. The man in the Youtube snapshot is religious, but he his religiously wrong. Such man-made, self-made attempts to be worthy of God are displeasing to God. Asceticism is “self-made” religion that has the “appearance of wisdom” but it is not compatible with faith in God. It is all about putting faith where it shouldn’t be. It is about trying to pay some of the debt for one’s own sins; a vain attempt to be worthy of salvation. For the Colossians, it took the form of requiring circumcision and observing other elements of the Mosaic Law. If such things had been acceptable then, it might would give support to the idea of blowing trumpets in the church today (Num. 10:1,10).
It is against unity. The Word of God brings unity. At the root of this “self-abasement and severe treatment of the body” is the other thing Paul mentioned, human “decrees”. Examine every division in the church and you will see the introduction of hman decrees. Even if they seem wise to the world, they do not have the authority of God’s Word. And they are contrary to the goal which Jesus prayed for, unity.
It is against holiness. Man-made rules and religions are problematic for another reason besides their misplaced faith and their hostility to real unity and that is their inability to bring real holiness. Paul says they “have no value against fleshly indulgence.” When men creates self-made religion aimed at satisfying man’s wants, passions, and desires, it’s not surprising when “fleshly indulgence” remains a problem.
“Self-made” religion is contrary to faith because man puts his faith in his own reasoning. “Self-made” religion is against unity because opinions can’t do anything but divide. And “self-made” religion is contrary to holiness because self will and self satisfaction is at the root.
Those who trust in the sanctifying work of Christ and adhere to the pattern of the New Testament are offering worship that God approves of and pleases Him. Faith in Christ alone. Unity by the Truth in God’s Word. Holiness by living a pure life according to God’s will.
Hermeneutics: Presumptuous sins
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