So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. (Colossians 2:16-19)
In view of Christ’s victory over His enemies, we should not be controlled by those powers and practices over which Christ has already triumphed. The false teachers in Colosse were tempting the Colossians to bind themselves with the outward observances of Judaism, such as the Jewish dietary restrictions. These were merely a shadow of Christ. Judaism and its rites pointed to Christ. When Christ came, He dispelled the shadow. If we have Christ, we have what we need to know and please God. Paul warns the believers in Colosse not to let others bind them to regulations from which Christ has already freed them.
In Colossians 2:16, "What you eat or drink" probably refers to the Jewish dietary laws. The festivals mentioned are Jewish holy days celebrated annually, monthly (New Moon), and weekly (the Sabbath). These rituals distinguished the Jews from their pagan neighbors. Failure to observe them could be easily noticed by those who were keeping track of what others did. But we should not let ourselves be judged by the opinions of others, because Christ has set us free.
Paul told the Colossian Christians not to let others criticize their diet or their religious ceremonies. Instead of outward observance, believers should focus on faith in Christ alone. Our worship, traditions and ceremonies can help bring us close to God, but we should never criticize fellow Christians whose traditions and ceremonies differ from ours. More important than how we worship is that we worship Christ. Don't let anyone judge you. You are responsible only to Christ.
The false teachers were proud of their humility! This false humility brought attention and praise to themselves rather than to God. True humility means seeing ourselves as we really are from God's perspective, and acting accordingly. People today practice false humility when they talk negatively about themselves so that others will think they are spiritual. False humility is self-centered; true humility is God-centered. People who do not champion salvation in Christ alone often appear to be humble. But their search for a new spiritual experience or advocacy of some work as necessary for salvation is actually human pride. They do not want to submit to God’s plan of salvation revealed in the Bible.
The false teachers were claiming that God was far away and could be approached only through various levels of angels. They taught that people had to worship angels in order, eventually, to reach God. This is unscriptural; the Bible teaches that angels are God's servants, and it forbids worshiping them (Exodus 20:3, 4; Revelation 22:8, 9). As you grow in your Christian faith, let God's Word be your guide, not the opinions of other people. The expression "unspiritual mind" means that these people had a self-made religion. The false teachers were trying to deny the significance of the body by saying that it was evil, but their desire for attention from others showed that, in reality, they were obsessed with the physical realm.
The fundamental problem with the false teachers was that they were not connected to Christ, the Head of the body of believers. If they had been joined to Him, they could not have taught false doctrine or lived immorally. Anyone who teaches about God without being connected to Him by faith should not be trusted. Are you connected to God through His Son Christ Jesus?
Father God, it is my prayer this morning that I humble myself before you with all humility, taking away all pride and letting myself become more Christ-centered instead of self-centered. Lord, I want to live my life "In Christ Alone" putting away all evil and submitting to Your will. I pray this all in Jesus' name. Amen.
References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), and the Nelson Study Bible.