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Boundaries, Not Bondage - Forward with Back to the Bible - September 2

  • 2021 Sep 02

Boundaries, Not Bondage

September 2

Read Colossians 2:16-17

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belong to Christ.

Reflect

Are there any religious regulations that have you held in the bondage of legalism? If so, how do these verses encourage you?

When I was kid, it seemed to me like we had rules about rules at school. “No running in the hall.” “Hand in your homework every day.” “No name calling.” “Pick up after yourself.” “Push in your chair.” “Cover your mouth.” “Don’t run up the slide.” And on and on. Now, I’m learning that many schools use a framework that provides kids with the opportunity to make good behavior choices for themselves. For example, many schools operate with just three 3 main rules: Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible.

It’s not that the old school rules don’t serve a purpose. But it’s hard to remember so many rules. They also don't teach kids to think for themselves to identify right and wrong. And of course, kids often obeyed for the wrong reasons. For example, they walked in the hall, not because they understood that running was a safety hazard but because if they were caught running, they’d have to stay inside at recess and write “I will not run in the halls” on the chalkboard fifty times.

In today’s verses, Paul urged the Colossians not to let people judge them if they don’t follow the laws of Moses (the old school rules). The false teachers in Colossae were likely telling believers in Christ that they had to eat a Kosher diet and observe all the feast days and new moon celebrations that the law of Moses commanded. The problem is, the law was just a shadow of Who was to come—the Messiah. It exposed sin and revealed sin’s consequences. It pointed to Christ but the law couldn’t save anyone and it didn’t stop people from sinning.

Even worse, some people kept the law for the wrong reasons. When the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of eating their food when they hadn’t washed their hands, Jesus said: “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules’” (Mark 7:6-7, NIV).

If we religiously follow rituals and regulations when our hearts are far from God, we are worshipping God in vain. We are hypocrites. We are engaging in legalism, instead of living in the freedom of Christ. Legalism falsely claims that Christ is not enough.

Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17). He is sufficient for salvation! He made us complete in Him. We aren’t responsible to religious zealots who try to tell us how to live. We are, however, responsible to Christ. If we are in Him, we should desire to honor Him by how we live. In Him, we have the Spirit to convict us and sanctify us. In Christ, we obey God, not because of a fear of punishment, but because we understand that He loves us and that His boundaries are for our good. Faith in Christ is about a relationship with Him, not following a bunch of religious rules. Friends, I encourage you to take some time to examine your heart. Are you operating out of a sense of obligation or out of love for Christ? Are you trying to obey a list of rules or honor Christ, Your King? Remember, Jesus provides loving boundaries, not legalistic bondage.

Pray

Jesus, thank You for the freedom I have in You! Keep from empty rituals and the bondage of legalism. I know that it has no power to save! Help me to honor and glorify You with my life. Amen.

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