You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. —Colossians 2:20-23 (NLT)
I never want to idolize the wilderness. At times, I’ve approached fasting and weeping as if they were ends unto themselves, gold star ultimate expressions of devotion to God. But weeping is simply a right emotional response to a tragedy, a loving response, something that God feels even deeper than we do. Fasting is simply a laying aside of distractions, a focused time of longing for God. In both, the point is to connect with God’s heart. They are precious realities, never human accomplishments of which to be proud. Without Christ as the Head, these things are meaningless.
Just having rules and systems set up against immorality does nothing to bring freedom to the ones trapped in it. For instance, from a worldly point of view, Humanism and Communism are great ideas. They’re even based in Biblical principles! Humanism attempts to follow the second great commandment, but it ignores the first. Communism is an attempt at Church and covenant community, only without God. The rules and morals may be “right,” but without Jesus as the Head, they are doomed to abuse and failure. Without faith, there is no substance.
Like Paul, we can “do all things through Christ.” No matter what the circumstance, we can rejoice, for we have the Spirit of power, love and self-control. When our minds are set in eternity, laying down our lives is a joy. We may live weak lives, chaotic, unorganized, or not. The wilderness doesn’t define our identity. Neither do disciplines and rules. Only Jesus, our Creator and Friend, can do that. We do strive for holiness, not because of guilt or pride, but because He is holy, and we love Him.
Article originally published in “Unlocked Words,” June 28, 2015 -JH