If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations — “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? 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 2:20-23)
Let me paraphrase this text. If what you are doing is not working in stopping the indulgence of the flesh, then it is man-made wisdom and it is not the power of the gospel. The gospel includes us in the death of Jesus Christ. The good news here is that we no longer have to rely upon asceticism or self-made religion to overcome the flesh. It is not a matter of how disciplined or faithful we are. The assumption, through the gospel, is that we died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world! This means the rules that govern other people such as “do not handle, do not taste”…no longer apply to the redeemed of God! We’ve died to that old system and been born again into a higher law! The law of love! We are now hard-wired for righteousness which means we don’t need an external system of do’s and don’ts to control us. We have the Holy Spirit of God leading and guiding us into all truth, freedom and holiness!
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)
Notice that the death, resurrection and return of Christ is the anchor point for all instructions in the gospel. God gives us instructions on the wake of us seeing Jesus and being joined to him at each step of his work and life.
Many Christians are still struggling with their flesh because they have not seen the power of the cross. The assumption made in Colossians 2:20 is that Christ’s death has become our own. Our sinful, lustful flesh has been co-crucified with Christ. This is something that took place 2000 years ago that we are NOW invited to partake of by faith. When we finally accept this fact that the death of Jesus Christ was also OUR DEATH, we will finally begin to experience the freedom promised to us in the New Covenant. In addition to this wonderful truth, the Bible also teaches us that Jesus’ ascension to heaven is also an invitation to us to partake of this resurrection. We have been raised and seated with Christ in heavenly places. Partaking of this union gives us permission to seek the things that are above. To set our minds on things that are above.
I believe the remedy for a lot of the anxiety, stress and fear that many believers are currently experiencing is found in these few verses.
We have the power to set our minds on heavenly things or on earthly things. Which will you choose?