“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.” Colossians 2:23
What do you want? You want to satisfy the flesh? If so, there are many voices in the world who have something to sell you. They will teach you to deprive the flesh here by indulging the flesh there. And if you want, they will even call it spiritual. And so you follow them with their promises of toned bodies through delicious protein shakes. But what appears to be nirvana, is really just fleshly. Sure, you are wearing two sizes smaller clothing and you have a new sports car, but the divorce papers and estrangement from the kids are keeping you up at night. As you lighten yourself of some things, for some reason the burdens on your mind are increasing. The put together bodies of Hollywood with their slick fitness programs have not set you free. You are still a slave to the flesh and unsatisfied. The world can offer you a 3 night and four day ticket to paradise,
but they offer you nothing to deal with the emptiness of day five. This focus on the physical is the devil’s oldest trick and it just leaves the person with a hunger that cannot be satisifed. The flesh may appear under control in one area, but it will rage out of control in another. The religion of man is always indulgent of the flesh because it is the religion of the flesh.
So what’s the problem? The problem is your fleshly mind that is enticed by fleshly wisdom. You think you worship God, but you continually bow at the altar of the flesh. This man can say he loves Jesus, and he can pray to God, but his spirit seeking answers from men and Jesus knows. The devil will sing to this man all day long about beautiful Jesus, and the devil will stroke his ego saying he’s such a good christian, but his is not the way to holiness. The beating of the body won’t make him holy because he’s still fleshly and still loves the body more than the spirit. This is why Paul says these things “have no value against fleshly indulgence.” In other words, he might beat the body and make it appear under control, but his flesh will hunger to be satisfied in another way because the fleshly mind is still in charge. It is like the guy who quits smoking only to become an addict at the gym who stands in front of the mirror for long periods. You better look away because vanity will run you.
There are many voices in the world who will appeal to you and promise you the spiritual through enticements to your flesh. In the end, you will have only dressed up the outward. Your suit will have a fine cut, and your hair might be gorgeous, but God is still playing second fiddle to your flesh. The wisdom of self-made religion is man-made wisdom that at best can only dress up the outside. Man-made religion is a facade. There is a reason it has no value because it is of man; and man is sinful.
“13Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. 14But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.’” John 4
So what is the solution? We need the bread from Jesus. We need the living water. Paul’s message to the Colossians is that you can only be complete through Christ. The only thing that has value against sin is faith in Jesus Christ. The only way to holiness is Jesus. True religion, which is godliness, doesn’t come through marketing schemes that tickle the ear, salivate the tongue, and captivate the eye. The only thing that will satisfy is Jesus. The only way to holiness is at the feet of Jesus. Learn from Him. Do what He does. Say what he says. Think how He thinks. Aim for what He aimed for. Love what he loved. Trust in Him. Want what He wants. The bread and the water that men give will leave you thirsty and hungry for more flesh. Turn away from the flesh, and turn to Jesus Christ.