The Foolishness of Self-Imposed Piety


Col. 2:20   If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations,  21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”?  22 All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.  23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.


Following a list of rules — the “do not taste, do not touch” list is foolishness. Paul reminds us that these may look like they are wise but they never get to the root of the problem — of “self-indulgence.” The root must be dealt with through the work of Jesus Christ. We are to live for Christ, focused on him and not on the things of the world. Self-imposed piety is foolishness without Christ.


During my formative years it seemed as if all the conversations around “what does your church believe?” centered on the rules. We would be in school and students would be talking about what they were and were not allowed to do. The usual list included smoking, drinking, dancing, card playing, and going to movies. It was as if we had a check-list and you figured out who fell where in the list of possible taboos. Maybe even in our young minds we were ranking one another’s spirituality by way of the list. But never did we mention Jesus!

That’s the danger with submitting to regulations alone, ones which have not come from our personal relationship with Christ. Piety for the sake of piety does not lead to Christ. Christ died to set us free and to live in the freedom of him — which takes us on a path toward Christlikeness. The ways in which we live come naturally from a deeply intimate relationship with him.

Get past the rules and find the Savior who is true wisdom.


Lord, may I know you more today than yesterday as you lead me into the paths you have prepared. Amen.


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