ORDINANCES OF MEN
Colossians 2:20-23 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
Practically the whole of Chapter 2 is Paul's warning to Christians against false teachers, that, by bringing into the church of Christ worldly philosophies and traditions of men, they compromise and pollute the truth - the pure gospel of Christ. And in so doing, they lead the children of God away from the truths of His holy word, robbing them of the hope of salvation in Christ Jesus. It was an extremely serious matter at the time of Paul's writing to the church at Colosse, to all churches in the known world at that time, and to all churches of Christ today, throughout the world.
Allowed to continue unheeded and uncorrected, the spiritual death of members of His body is the inevitable result. Even before Paul's teaching on this subject, this was the warning of our Savior, Jesus Christ: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Matt. 7:15). Jesus taught this warning at great length in Matthew 15:2-20, 23:2-33, and in Luke 11:38-52. Sixty-three times in the New Testament, warnings are given to guard against teachers of a false doctrine, both from within the body of Christ and without. Find a good topical index of bible scriptures, and make your own list. Read them; study each warning; take them seriously, and BEWARE!
Here in the church at Colosse, it appears teachers of error crept in unawares, just as Jesus predicted in His warning noted above. False teachers appeared as ravening wolves,that came into their assembly unnoticed disguised in sheep's clothing. After gaining the confidence of the congregation, they evidently introduced ordinances, ...after the commandments and doctrines of men. Addressing this fact, Paul reprimands them sharply with this simple question: Having been dead (to sin) with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, have you reverted back to your former conduct as though living in the world? In a similar warning, Paul poses this question to the Christians at Rome, where a similar situation had occurred: How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein (Rom. 6:2)?
Notice Paul's examples of the ordinances, that could be, or probably had been, introduced by false teachers and imposed on the brethren at Colosse - touch not; taste not; handle not. The Law of Moses restricted the diet of the Jewish nation. There were certain things that they could, and could not, eat and drink, identifying them as things either "clean" and "unclean." There were commandments regarding things that they could not touch, handle, or even come in close contact with.
Such laws were not to be included in New Testament Law. The Law of Moses was fulfilled with the coming of Christ; it was "nailed to the cross" at the death of Christ; the Old Law of Moses was replaced by the New Law of Christ. The removal of Mosaic restrictions on food and drink was confirmed in Peter's vision from heaven. The eating of all manner of foods created, and cleansed by God for mankind, are not to be called common or unclean (from Acts 10:9-16). Neither should any person be considered common or unclean to another person (Vs. 28). All people, of either Jewish or Gentile heritage, once becoming a Christian, are to worship together in the body of Christ, and enjoy the hope of salvation, extended through His Son, Jesus Christ. We know this to be true, because God is no respecter of persons (Vs. 34).
When God invites all to come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, He wants people of all nations to respond - to satisfy their spiritual thirst by coming to Christ, being baptized into His body, and taking the water of life freely (Rev. 22:17). Mankind is to rely on the truth found in the New Testament. Let nothing stand in your way, and keeps you from coming to Christ. Beware of, and avoid, the observance of days, rites, and ceremonies coming, which come from the erring worldly wisdom disguised through man's false humility. Beware of the false piety demonstrated in will worship - self inflected punishments, denials, voluntary fasts, penances, and the like, that are performed as a false show of religion. Such erring acts that, when introduced into Christian worship, take the form of spirituality, but are indeed the false doctrines and commandments of men.
False doctrines, proclaimed by false teachers and preachers, corrupt the truth and simplicity of the word of God, and jeopardize the Christian's hope of salvation. Of such, BEWARE!