Monday, May 28, 2007

Shadow Boxing

These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
(Colossians 2:17,23 – ESV)

After Paul spoke about Christ and His work in Colossians 2:9-15, he gave some practical application. Because of and through Christ, God has taken away any subordinate means as essential to being accepted by Him. He goes on to explain in verses 16-23 of the things we are therefore not to succumb and submit to, stating in essence that legalism, mysticism, and asceticism (monasticism) do not work.

Spiritual maturity is not gained through the methods often employed by some in the church, but a measure of maturity is the sense of your own sinfulness. Humility is the seed of holiness, and holiness starts in the heart not the hands.

The legalism that takes a matter and makes it a must or at least a higher standard of spirituality is typified by the idea of Sabbath keeping and the like. Christians are free to keep the Sabbath day if they so desire, but this doesn’t make them more spiritual, give them special blessings or bring them closer to God. They can’t bind the consciences of other’s with their convictions; it is a matter of liberty, not a binding legality.

No rigorous self-imposed devotion to types and shadows will make you more spiritual. It is Christ’s life being formed in you by abiding in Him. It is not done by formula or ritual. One aspect of legalism is that the doctrines of men are promoted as the laws of God.

Paul also says that it isn’t some mystical experience that will get you to grow; it is God’s life in you that is growing. These movements often appeal to elites or an elitist notion, not something for the whole body. Jesus wants us all to grow together.

Galatians 4:17 – some will shut you out from the elite so that you will strive to become a member of the elite. The gnostics had a type of higher knowledge theory, and so, too, many today sell a deeper life or a higher level or whatever, so as to get others to come after them and their new improved doctrine and not after Christ (Acts 20:20-32).

Some so-called spiritual disciplines and contemplative prayer are simply self-made religion. We are not called to be monks but missionaries. Self-made religion is man reaching to God, trying to justify himself by keeping a list of rules. Christianity is God reaching down to man in love through Christ.

Gnosticism places the emphasis on the individual outside any real context of community (solipsism – for knowledge, my mind is the only thing that matters). What is noteworthy is the lack of any uniformity apart from its elitist notion that salvation comes by special knowledge. As the Christian community of the early centuries started to become established, they codified common belief in creedal statements and councils. Gnosticism knows nothing of this because it rests upon an elitist, intellectual, and self-centered sense of what their religion should be. It is easy to see modern reflections of this idea. Of course, all of these are just some more reasons why it is vital to be in fellowship and growing with people of like precious faith.


Sista Cala said...

"Holiness starts in the heart..." That is the whole message of holiness. Until we get that right, no amount of legalism will advance the kingdom.

Anonymous said...

I love the statement about spiritual maturity not being produced by a church based method. How often have we fallen into that trap.
thanks for this post

Anonymous said...

This post is so true. Must people are not willing to give up what they've become comfortable with an think that they have a good idea of what it takes to get into heaven or whatever they in. It's like the Dan Morgan said " The flesh is going to get what it wants if you allow it too. Cause telling the flesh no, is like telling a young child with no discipline no, its going to throw a tantrum". The flesh must be brought into obedience whether it likes it or not an the only way this can be done is through our Lord Jesus Christ. Accepting (Him) into our lives, let the Lord humble you so you can repent an be forgiven for your sins. Now comes the hard part, being obedient to (Him) an not the flesh. Which is why we stay in (His) word, repent daily whether you need to or not, an be around people who can help you grow spiritualy. May we praise (His) Holy name an lift (Him)up on high. God bless you all. Heavenly Warrior

Even So... said...

And blessings to you, HW...