Col 2:20-23 “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.”
Paul’s basic question here is why are we subjecting ourselves to ceremonial rule (see Strong’s definition of “ordinances”) based on (after) religious principles and teachings of men? It is high time for us to seek God in prayer as we study His word and ask for the Holy Spirit to teach us how to worship. We should not be worshipping God in the manner we do because that is how our forefathers worshipped. This has nothing to do with whether or not they worshipped in Spirit and in Truth.
The emphasis here is about our focus. Are we looking to the Holy Spirit to guide us in our worship? Even if our forefathers had it right, that is not the thing that should prompt our worship. The expectation of blessing should not be the thing that prompts our worship. Fulfilling a family expectation should not be the thing that prompts our worship. We need no greater reason to worship than that we love God because He first loved us.
If we are dead with Christ, then we are dead from worshipping based on legal requirement. It is no longer a focus about what we cannot do. Rather we glorify God in all that He has called us to do. The commandments of touch not, taste not, and handle not were used up when Jesus declared from the cross that He had finished the work the Father sent Him to do. If we are dead with Christ, then we are dead to the ordinances of that world of legal service.
Being dead with Him, we also live with Him (Rom 6:8, 2Ti 2:11). If we live with Him, we are subject to Him as our living Head. He divested Himself (and therefore us) of the law service: grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Worship according to ordinances was finished with Jesus’ death on the cross, and any continuation of those practices was according to man’s purposes and not God’s.
The thing that makes the commandments and doctrines of men so appealing is that they have a show, and it is in man’s nature to be attracted to things that are showy. Man’s worship is will worship: he volunteers to put his worship on display. The scripture is full of examples that show us that the true worship of God is the result of the irresistible call of God in our lives.
Moses did not go to God and volunteer to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt: God called him. Paul did not volunteer to be the apostle to the Gentiles: God called him. While we may certainly come to serve Him willingly, it is only after He has called us and not because of our own determination. Truly serving God confounds the wisdom of men (1Co 1:27). The doctrines of men make a show of humility and fasting in one form or another so that they may have accolades of men. However, man’s show of religion will never curb the natural desires of our carnal nature.
Where man’s will-worship puts on a show, true obedience to Christ is done gently, every day, whether there is an audience or not. There is no self-serving humility in the true worship of God, but rather a spirit of meekness with boldness in the things of God. Legal worship encouraged by men will always seek to satisfy the flesh, but the faith of Jesus Christ brings the flesh under subjection to the Spirit (Rom 6:13, 19).
May we rejoice in being dead with Christ from the principles of worldly religion and never make a show of living in that world!