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 —  21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 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 (NKJV).

        The, therefore, is concerning verse 19. From the “head,” the human body is controlled, nourished, and knit together by joints and ligaments. So it is spiritually as well. Christ is the “Head” of His body. Christ, in His church is nourishing His body through the “knitting” together of the spiritual “joints” and “ligaments.” Peter stated it this way, “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as new born babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, . . .” (1 Peter 2:2 NKJV).

An essential part of our foundation in Christ is the “death” process. The foundation that the Lord’s apostles gave to us is rooted in the “cross.” Christ died for the sins of the world. Christ Jesus alone made it possible for every person to have their sins forgiven, removed, and for all eternity, annihilated.

Christ, in His death, was entirely separated from the world on the cross. As He bore our sin on the cross, He also, as we have learned, nailed the “handwriting against us,” the Law that proves our guilt, failed to bring redemption because of the “weakness of our flesh” (Romans 8:3). The cross is the bridge between heaven and earth. The cross did what the Law could not do. The cross is where the world is judged guilty before the Father, the eternal judge of all. In the cross, each believer died from the basic “principles” of the world. The basic principles of the world are rooted in the “flesh.” Directly connected to the five senses found in every human being are those basic principles. Those senses help us in our natural existence in a “time-space world.”

The senses can get in the way of our identity with God because that identity has nothing to do with the “natural, but everything to do with the “Spiritual.” The natural birth brings us into this world and life. The Spirit Birth brings us back into a relationship with God, who is “Spirit” (see John 4:24). Christ’s death on the cross bridges heaven and earth. Our identity with Christ is connected to our dying to self. Our new identity is what continues to cause heaven to touch earth within and through our person.

The world and its principles no longer govern us, but we are now governed by Christ through His Word and His Spirit. So Paul then raises the question of “why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourself to regulations?” The only thing the believer or one could say, the “new creation man,” which God has created from Christ in the power of His resurrection, is subject to God the Father’s “King,” the Lord Jesus Christ. The nations themselves are now subject to Christ, for the nations belong to Him (see Psalms 2). “All power in heaven and earth has been given to Christ Jesus” and Him alone (see Matthew 28:18).

As believers, given the power to become the children of God, our obedience and allegiance, first and foremost, is to Christ the Lord. Everything we do must pass through the “cross” and God’s eternal word given by the Spirit of God and judged by the Holy Spirit in its application within this world’s systems. This is the true meaning of Acts 17:30, that God commands all men everywhere to “REPENT.” Jesus has judged this world, with all its systems and principles. He is presently ruling over the nations. There is a final judgment coming at the end, according to scriptures like Hebrews 9:27-28, but what is coming at the end has already been established and implemented in the “kingdom principle.” It is settled in the cross, the descent, the resurrection, the ascension, and the seating of Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Back to Paul’s question, why do you subject yourself to regulations, regulations such as touch, taste, and handling? I believe that Paul clarifies his apostolic view of decisions that were agreed to in the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15 regarding the Gentile believers. It appears that Paul believed that “not regulations” should be put upon believers because they concern those things that “perish” See Verse 22). Yes, those things are the “commandments and the doctrine of men.”

Paul goes on to say that those things have an appearance of “wisdom.” Verse 23 is very important to understand the “wisdom” of God” in contrast to the “wisdom” of religious service. Note Paul’s clear delineation of “religion.” He calls these rules or regulations, “self-imposed religion.” He also calls it, “false humility,” stating that it is a “neglect of the body.” He is countering the present philosophy of that day promoted by the Gnostics.  He is also countering the teachings of the Jews that embraced Christ but were still hanging on to the regulations of the Law. We have discussed the doctrine of “Gnosticism” in past teachings. For clarity, let me underscore what the Gnostics believed in contrast to Paul’s teaching of the Kingdom of God and the finished work of Christ.

Most notably Irenaeus regarded Gnosticism as a Christian heresy. Gnosticism is a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated in the first century. The Apostles of Christ gave to us the foundation of God’s new creation in the Spirit to be worked out in the world. In the first century there arose a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated among early Christian and Jewish sects.

Gnostics were dualists and worshipped two (or more) gods; Christians were monists and worshipped one God. Gnostics focused on the eradication of ignorance; Christian concern was the eradication of sin.

“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 2:23).

         Now let’s turn our attention to Paul’s statement, “of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” The real issue is not rules and regulations, but the power of God in the new creation to deal with “fleshly indulgence.” This is speaking to sexual sins specifically. There are no rules, regulations, religious activities that have the power to bring the flesh under the direction and control of the Holy Spirit. Only Christ’s resurrection power can overrule the fleshly indulgences as one chooses Christ and His life-giving power through His indwelling Holy Spirit.

By the Holy Spirits’ direction, I wrote a daily devotional dedicated to developing our relationship with the Holy Spirit and His “word of life” given to each believer from the “word of God and the Spirit’s indwelling power. In my “Introduction,” I spoke of the three “I,” Inspirational, Informational, and Instructional. All three of these relate to the life of the Spirit in the believer.

All of us need the “Inspiration” that the Holy Spirit wants to give us every day. That inspiration from the Holy Spirit comes through the resurrection power and life that is dwelling and moving through us day by day. Just like the air we breathe, one inhale and one exhale at a time. The Holy Spirit is our life source for God’s life in us.

All of us need “Information,” which the Holy Spirit has to live a life ordered by God the Father in the authority of Christ. Just like Jesus, we too must search the scriptures to learn who we are in Christ. Our Lord discovered His true identity in the “Word of God.” By age twelve, Jesus had no questions about His relationship with the Heavenly Father. As He told His parents, “did you not know that I was doing my Father’s business,” as they found Him in the Temple confounding the scribes and Pharisees.

All of us need to receive “Instruction” from the Holy Spirit. The Father, just as with Christ, wants to direct our every thought and step. Jesus learned to “do what He saw the Father doing,” and He learned to “speak what He heard the Father saying.” God, the Father, has the same will for each of His sons and daughters. Those instructions are not just chapters and verses in the Bible, but learning to hear His voice as Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice and another they will not hear nor follow.” Our Lord will never speak anything to us that violates His written Word. He wants us to learn how to recognize His voice dwelling inside of our being and through grace gifts that the Holy Spirit possesses and is willing to give to us in our time of need. The solid instruction of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power is enough to deal with the “flesh” and its desire for “indulgence.”