The Superiority of Jesus to Religion – Colossians 2:20-23

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Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

November 7, 2010

The Superiority of
Jesus to Religion

Colossians 2:20-23




The elections are over, and we can all be thankful that there will be a break
in the political campaign advertisements until the next election cycle. As is
normal, there is quite a mixture in analyzing the returns. Remember, that
elections in a country such as the United States say more about the people than
necessarily the candidates themselves. Among positive findings: By an over 80%
majority, Denver, CO rejected a proposal to establish a “Commission for
Extraterrestrial Affairs,”
which supporters said was designed to interact
with aliens from other worlds should they make an appearance in the city. (Of
course, you have to wonder about those that did vote for it). On a more rational
note, Oklahoma voters approved a constitutional amendment that requires state
courts to consider only U.S. Federal and Oklahoma law in cases and forbids
consideration or citing international law including Islamic-based “Shariah” law
in reaching their decisions. While this may seem silly, the reality is that
Islamic law is already having an effect on non- Muslim countries and even places
in the United States such as Detroit. As would be expected, pro-Islamic groups
have already said they will fight the measure in court.

On the issue of abortion, Emily’s List, a pro-abortion advocacy group, won in
only 12 of the 32 races it was involved, a 63% loss ratio. On the other hand,
the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life advocacy group, won in 86% of those races,
so there will be more pro-life government representatives. Another positive
result was the rejection of the three Iowa State Supreme Court Justices that had
decreed homosexual “marriage” for that state that were up for a retention vote.

On the negative side, there were still a lot of people elected that do
advocate what God calls abominations. Their moral compass is backwards calling
what is good, evil and what is evil, good. The only real hope for any nation is
for God to pour out His spirit upon the people and bring about a revival. All
revivals begin with those professing to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ
becoming serious about trusting the Lord and walking with Him, and that brings
us to our study this morning as we return to the book of Colossians.

The Colossian believers were in danger from false teachers who were seeking
to persuade them that they had a better way. They claimed their philosophy,
system or religious practices would enable a successful life that pleased God.
They came with persuasive speech and delusions trying to take the believers
captive by philosophy which in the end would prove to be vain and empty. The
danger was real then. It is still real today. There are those who profess to be
Christians, but they have a false Christ, so they walk on the broad way leading
to destruction. There are also true believers that are influenced by such false
teachers so that they do not bear the fruit they should. They have been led to
believe that Jesus is not-sufficient and so they must add something to what He
has done such as philosophy, mysticism, or religious practices. They are no
longer serious about trusting the Lord and walking with Him. The vibrancy of the
Christian life then fades away into legalism, asceticism, mysticism and

So far in our study we have seen that Paul proclaims Jesus’ superiority as
the architect, creator, provider and preserver of Creation(1:13-17). (See:

The Preeminence of Jesus Over Creation
). Jesus is superior over the
church as the origin of it and its head who redeemed and reconciled it to God
through His own death (1:18-23). (See:

The Preeminence of Jesus Over the Church
). Jesus is superior to
philosophy, asceticism and religious observances as the only one that has the
totality of the divine essence dwelling in Him permanently, and the only one
that can make us alive and forgive all our sins (2:6-15).(See:

The Superiority of Walking in Christ

Avoiding Capture by Philosophy

The Superiority of Being in Christ
). In the last few sermons we have
examined Paul’s specific admonitions against the doctrine of the false teachers
at the end of chapter 2. (See:

The Superiority of Christ over Legalism

The Superiority of Christ to Asceticism & Mysticism
). This morning
we will be completing our study of this section, so please follow along as I
read Colossians 2:16-23

16 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in
respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day– 17 things which are a
[mere] shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no
one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the
worship of the angels, taking his stand on [visions] he has seen, inflated
without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from
whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and
ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world,
why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such
as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all [refer to]
things destined to perish with the using)– in accordance with the commandments
and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the
appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe
treatment of the body, [but are] of no value against fleshly indulgence.

These false teachers were advocates of religious practices as substitutes for
the truth. Yet that has always been the effort of the religions of man. They
seek to replace what God has said with something man has devised for himself.
When it is all boiled down, there are only two types of religions that exist.
There is the religion of God’s grace, and the religions of human achievement. At
present, only Biblical Christianity is a religion of God’s grace whereby God in
His mercy and love provides His unmerited favor in redeeming, forgiving and
reconciling man to Himself. All other religions are just variations of the same
theme of trying to earn God’s favor through religious practices while redefining
God to the point that those practices are considered acceptable. Atheism and
agnosticism also fit since they redefine God to the point that He is no longer a
threat to them.

Paul points out in this passage that such religious practices were only
shadows at best of what was to come, but Jesus is the reality
(vs. 17)
. The practices of ancient Judaism pointed to what the Messiah
would be and accomplish. Those delighting in self-abasement and mysticism such
as angel worship and visions defraud their followers of the prize of the upward
calling we have in Chris Jesus, for they substitute their own practices and
beliefs for holding fast to the head of the body, Jesus, from whom all direction
and growth come (vs. 18-19). Paul continues in verses
20-23 in explaining the superiority of a believer’s position in Christ to
submission to the wrong beliefs of the false teachers.

The Christian’s Position – vs. 20

Died in Christ – Paul begins verse 20 stating, “If you have died with
Christ to the elementary principles of the world . . .”
This is a statement
of their position in Christ from the negative standpoint of dying. He will state
it from a positive standpoint of living in Colossians 3:1If then you have
been raised up with Christ . . .”
What does Paul mean that the believer has
“died with Christ” especially since back in verse 13 he had said we were
“dead in our transgressions”
and that “He made you alive together with
(Christ).” If we were dead, how could we die again? What is Paul talking

First, being “dead in our transgressions” is our spiritual state
without Jesus (Ephesians 2:1). Remember that death has a
root meaning of separation. Physical death is separation of your soul from your
body and spiritual death is separation of your soul from God. Because we are
born in sin we are separated from God from birth. Being made alive in Christ is
having your soul regenerated to be able to commune with God on the basis of
being redeemed, forgiven and reconciled to God through Christ’s death as the
payment of the price of your sin.

Second, the idea of having “died with Christ” refers to a change in
your relationship to the Law and sin as well as a change toward yourself. This
change concerning yourself is what Paul meant when He said in Galatians 2:20,
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ
lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the
Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”
Paul explained
in Romans 6:3-5 that baptism was the picture of our self-identification with
Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection since our old self was crucified with Him
and we were raised up to walk with Him in newness of life. This idea of our old
self dying with Christ also changes our relationship to the Law and sin as Paul
continues on to explain in Romans 6:6-23. That death frees us from bondage to
the Law and to sin so that they are no longer our masters but instead we are
under grace and alive to God in Christ Jesus with righteousness as our master.

Dead to the World – Here in Colossians 2:20 Paul points out that
having died with Christ we also died to the “elementary principles of the
This is the same phrase Paul used back in verse 8 and is a positive
result of our dying to sin. The phrase “elementary principles” is from a
word (stoicei’on / stoicheion) which means
“first things in a series” or “rudimentary” things such as the letters of the
alphabet are the elementary principles of written language. Paul specifically
states here that he is referring to the rudimentary things of the world. He uses
the same phrase in Galatians 4:3 stating, “So also we, while we were
children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.”

Paul is speaking about foundational religious practices, and perhaps in
particular, the ceremonial aspects that are part of the means by which the
religion is instilled into its adherents. We train children first in behavior
and then in understanding. We learn how to do things before we learn why we do
them, but if we never learn the why and then act accordingly in understanding,
we are left as children doing things out of rote and in ignorance, and such
ignorance can never bring us to maturity.

These elementary principles, which were part of both paganism and Judaism,
were presented as the means to godliness, but they are actually worldly since
they are human efforts to achieve what can only be truly accomplished by the
spirit of God. By no means is Paul suggesting that such training in rudimentary
behavior is wrong, but they are to be left behind as maturity develops. Our
behavior is to be directed by the commands, principles and precepts of the word
of God as directed by the Holy Spirit and not by rote lessons learned as a
child. We may still do the same thing, but it will be for different reasons and
that the key difference.

For example, I learned as a child that stealing is wrong. I remember being
very young, hardly tall enough to see what was on the counters at the local dime
store, but seeing something I wanted and picking it up and taking it out of the
store. My mom found out I had it when we got to the car, so we had to go back to
the store so that I could return it and apologize to the clerk. My childish mind
now knew that stealing was wrong because mom got upset, I could not keep the
object but had to return it instead and go through the uncomfortable experience
of apologizing to a stranger. Stealing was wrong because the consequences were
negative. As I matured and came to faith in Christ, I learned that stealing was
wrong because it was not only unlawfully taking from another person which could
bring negative consequences, but more importantly, it was displeasing to my Lord
since He wanted me to trust Him to provide what I needed instead of taking what
I wanted, and He wanted me to treat other people with respect and love since
they are also precious to Him. I do not steal because I love and trust God and
want to please Him even as I strive to love others as He loves them. I do not
steal because it is contrary to love, not because of fear of punishment. Laws
are to restrict sinners by fear of punishment, not the godly who will behave
righteously out of love for God and others – the first and second great
commandments (Matthew 22:36-39). I have died with Christ
so that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Why then would I go back to
childish lessons and behavior?

Paul’s use of the conditional conjunction here, “if,” is not questioning
their position in Christ. It could also be translated as “since” as in the NIV.
Paul is contrasting their position in Christ to their response to the false
teachers who were advocating some of the practices that occurred within Judaism
such as observance of particular days, dietary restrictions, and certain ascetic
practices such as fasts. It is not that these things were wrong in themselves,
but that they were being promoted as the substance of Judaism when they were
actually only the shadow (Colossians 2:17). Hebrews 10:1
describes the Law as only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very
form of those things. The Law was a schoolmaster or tutor to bring us to Christ
(Galatians 3:24), so in coming to Christ we are to go
forward and not turn back to any idea whether arising out of Judaism or paganism
or some form of Christianity that we can somehow become righteous before God by
our own works. The elementary principles of the world are to teach us basic
behavior and that we need a savior for we cannot save ourselves.

Submission to the Beliefs – vs. 20-23

Paul questions why they would return to these elementary principles as if
they were still living in the world since they had already died with Christ to
them? It is as if they had forgotten who Jesus is and what He had done for them.
They were paying attention to these false teachers and submitting themselves to
their decrees. The actual word here (dogmativzw
/ dogmatizô) has the same root word which we transliterate as “dogma.” They were
demonstrating an inconsistency between their belief in the gospel of the Lord
Jesus Christ and how they were trying to live their lives. Instead of living in
the power of the Holy Spirit and bearing His fruit, they were returning to
living according to their own fleshly power according to the wisdom of men. This
was not something that was being forced upon them by some superior power, but
something they were practicing by their own choice. That is why Paul is
admonishing them and showing the foolishness of what they were doing so that
they would forsake the false teachers and walk strongly with Christ again. Paul
gives three examples of the decrees they were submitting to in verse 21.

Ascetic Dogmas – vs. 21. “Do not handle, do not taste, do not
The grammar of each of these decrees (aorist subjunctive) express
categorical prohibition of the specific conduct to prevent the action from ever
taking place, not just to stop what was already being done. Since we do not know
the specifics of what these false teachers were advocating, we do not know the
specifics of Paul’s examples other than “do not taste” is obviously
related to food. The other decrees could also be related to food if the sense is
“don’t handle, taste or even touch it.” Such an escalating prohibition is common
in legalism. There are still plenty of churches around that restrict their
people from being a waiter or waitress in a restaurant that serves alcoholic
beverages (do not handle), from drinking alcoholic beverages (do not taste) or
even working in a store that sells liquor (do not touch).

However, since each of these decrees is preceded by the negative particle and
none have an object, it is more likely that Paul is simply caricaturing the
general tone of the decrees they were making. Bible paraphrases such as Phillips
or the Good News Bible bring this idea out by adding an indefinite object –
“don’t pick that up, don’t taste this, don’t touch that.” By being more general
Paul broadens his example to fit whatever specifics might fit both their
particular situation and those we face today.

Their Destiny – vs. 22. Paul adds the comment in verse 22, “which
all refer to things destined to perish with the using.”
Whatever the
specific prohibitions were, they were all things that were temporal that would
be consumed with the using. While the application of this to food is easily
understood, even a house and our bodies wear out over time by their being used.
The legalist perceives holiness to be related to the physical world when it
actually rises out of the spiritual world. They had missed the lesson Jesus
taught in Matthew 15:10-20 that it is not what a man eats or touches that defile
him, but what proceeds out of his heart – evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,
fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. The things that concerned these
ascetics were of no eternal consequence. In the case of food, they failed to
understand that the Mosaic dietary restrictions were never applied to the
Gentiles, and that those restrictions had been removed from the Jews as well
with the coming of the gospel of Jesus (Acts 10). We need
to make sure we understand and apply Jesus’ lesson and Paul’s point here. True
holiness arises from within a person who has been changed by the Holy Spirit and
not by outward conformity to a list of regulations.

Their Source – vs. 22. Paul concludes his challenging question to them
in verse 22 by pointing out that the source of such decrees were “in
accordance with the commandments and teachings of men.”
These commandments
and teachers were not from God. Paul even goes on to say in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 that
requiring the abstaining from foods was a doctrine from demons. Why then would
they be paying attention to such things? Jesus’ lesson on the true source of
defilement in Matthew 15 was in response to some of the Pharisees and scribes
complaining that Jesus’ “disciples transgress the tradition of the elders.”
Jesus rebuked them strongly telling them their worship was in vain because they
were “teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matthew

While I do not think that church covenants are bad things, there are two
cautions. First, everything in the covenant must be in strict accordance with
the Scriptures themselves. The one for this church was not that way when it was
founded, but it is now in such accord. In fact, there are copies of the covenant
available that have every single phrase referenced with the appropriate
scripture. Second, submission to such a covenant must be from the correct heart.
If the church covenant is looked to as the rules for the church, then it will be
treated as such and quickly degenerate into a submission to man-made rules
instead of submission to God which would be the opposite of its purpose. Our
church covenant is only an attempt to make a concise statement of what we
believe are essential commands from God concerning what God desires from us as
the individuals that make up this local body. We want people to know and submit
themselves to the commandments and teachings of God, not those of men.

We must always be diligent and careful to be like the Bereans in Acts 17 to
go back to the word of God to make sure that whatever is taught from this
pulpit, in a Sunday School class, Bible study, home fellowship group or in
discipleship is what the Scriptures say and not an adulteration or perversion of
it or something substituting for it.

Their Failure – vs. 23. In verse 23 Paul concludes his warning by
showing the failure of such decrees by men to even accomplish its supposed
purpose. “These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom
in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, [but
are] of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

The commandments and teachings that come out of what Paul refers to here as
self-made religion, self-abasement and severe treatment of the body as well as
the legalism, mysticism and ritualism he corrects earlier in this chapter always
seem to have at least a veneer of wisdom in pursuit of practical holiness.
However, none of them can bring about true holiness.

Legalism substitutes a list of rules that seem very helpful as long as the
situations you face are within the list of rules. But when a circumstance is
faced not listed in the rules there is confusion and usually failure since man’s
wisdom is being relied upon instead of God’s wisdom. Legalism is helpful in
training outward behavior as you would with a child, but worthless in training
the heart and mind to respond in maturity. It does not produce holiness.

Mysticism seems to be so spiritual since the illusion is given that there is
such a close relationship with God. And while there certainly is a mystical
element in your relationship with God since He is a spirit that is in communion
with your spirit, when the understanding of God and His will for your life
strays away from the principles and precepts of His word, then the understanding
of God is perverted and self-will quickly substitutes for God’s will. It does
not produce holiness.

Religious ritualism gives the appearance of holiness because of the care and
reverence with which the various rituals are carried out. Admittedly, some of
the rituals are very lovely, thoughtful, meaningful and even spiritual, but they
must never substitute for true spirituality and worship. There are only two
religious rituals commanded by our Lord of us, and they are baptism and
communion. Anything beyond that is optional and may or may not be helpful. If
the practice helps focus your mind on Christ and commit your will to serving
him, then fine. If such care must be taken to fulfill the ritual that the focus
shifts from the worship of God to the ritual, then it is becoming a hindrance.
If the ritual becomes required or a substitute for true worship, then it is an
abomination. At best, rituals can only reflect holiness, but they cannot produce

Legalism, mysticism and ritualism all fit under the category of what Paul
refers to here as self-made religion. Asceticism can also fit within that
category, but the references to self-abasement and severe treatment of the body
are part of various forms of asceticism which in turn may be part of the various
forms of legalism, mysticism and ritualism. These things are often mixed
together in various ways.

Asceticism seems to be a branch of most religions, which makes sense since it
is an effort to achieve piety by self effort instead of receiving it from God by
faith. After Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the empire
in the fourth century, asceticism, along with many other pagan ideas, entered
into the church. Church historian Phillip Schaff points out that from then until
the protestant reformation in the sixteenth century the whole conception of the
Christian life was pervaded with the ascetic spirit.

Ascetics view the Christian life as consisting mainly of outward actions or
restrictions as a means to communion with God and personal holiness. The stress
is placed on strict self-discipline to gain control over the flesh and so gain
superior virtue and spirituality. This also gives an outward appearance of
wisdom in combating fleshly indulgence and achieving holiness, but it also fails
miserably because it can only change outward actions and not the heart. Only God
can change the heart, and without that heart change a victory in living in a
pious manner in one area will compound a failure in another.

Schaff points out that this ascetic spirit gave the highest admiration to
those who took vows of celibacy, poverty, and absolute obedience, and to those
who gave themselves excessive self-punishments such as the pillarsaints and the
martyrs of the desert. At the same time, the modest virtues of every-day
household and social life were looked upon as an inferior degree of morality,
which would be contrary to the importance God places on them. In addition, pride
was a common problem among the ascetics, but so also was fear of failure leading
to extremes. Vows of poverty and celibacy were means of pursuing piety by
controlling greed, materialism, the love of money and lust. However, lust and
greed, like all sin, are problems originating in a sinful heart and mind.
Voluntary celibacy is a hard road to walk when you are around the opposite sex,
and many are those that break those vows even today. Becoming a monk or a hermit
helped some, but also lead to fear of the opposite sex or sexual perversions.
Greed was combated with greater self abasement to the point that health was
compromised and broken due to poor diet and living conditions. When the idea of
penance, having to suffer for your own sins, is added to the mix, self
punishment becomes a perverted virtue. It was not uncommon for ascetics to wear
not just uncomfortable clothing, but things that would cause pain such as
clothing embedded with thorns or tacks and iron coats. Scourging by themselves
or another for their sins of mind or action was common and those known as the
flagellants would do so even while reading the Scriptures. All of this to no
avail because there would always be more sin. Like someone on a diet, they may
succeed in losing the weight by self-restraint, but the very longing for those
forbidden foods reveals the condition of the heart. In addition, the ascetics
could never gain peace with God because they either were ignorant of or had
forgotten the forgiveness of sin received by faith in Jesus Christ who paid for
all our sins on the cross.

Various forms of asceticism are still found among the less Biblical and more
ritualistic and mystical branches of what is generally referred to as
Christianity. However, it has also made a lot of inroads into the evangelical
Christianity since 1978 due to Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline
and the genre of books, magazines and organizations such as Renovaré that have
followed. With the introduction of the medieval mystics to evangelicals comes
their ascetic ideas. These are either contrary to or perversions of the
Scriptures and therefore dangerous to one’s spiritual health. These things have
become key components of what is referred to as the emerging church.




Paul has made his point in the first two chapters of Colossians. Jesus Christ
is superior to all religions. Man strives by various means and methods to
achieve spirituality, peace and piety, but no works or effort by man can achieve
them because man is dead spiritually, at enmity with his Creator, and all his
efforts at righteousness are as filthy rags before God. Only through being
justified by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ can a person be made
alive spiritually, gain peace with God and have the indwelling Holy Spirit bring
about true righteous living.


Parents, you are responsible to apply
God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.

Young Children – draw a
picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to
your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following:
1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2)
Count how many times either “religion” or “asceticism” are used in the sermon.
Talk with your parents about Christ can enable you to life righteously.


Questions to consider in discussing
the sermon with others. What do the recent elections indicate about the
spiritual state of our nation? What danger was facing the Colossian believers?
How was Paul enabling them to overcome that danger? How does Biblical
Christianity differ from every other religion? What is man’s spiritual state
apart from faith in Jesus? What then does it mean that the Christian has died
with Christ?
In what sense are believers made alive together with Him?
What freedom does death bring? What are the “elementary principles” in
Colossians 2:20? How do we train children to recognize right and wrong? What
else must they know as they mature? Why is that important? What is the purpose
of the Law? What was the inconsistency for the Colossians to believe the gospel
but to also submit to the decrees of the false teachers? What modern parallels
are there to the decrees Paul lists in Colossians 2:21? What is the destiny of
the things involved in such decrees? What is the origin of such decrees? What
causes a person to be defiled? Explain why each of the following cannot bring
about true holy living – legalism, mysticism, ritualism and asceticism? Why
can’t vows of poverty and celibacy control greed and lust? Why can’t an ascetic
gain true peace with God? What dangers does the evangelical church face from
legalism, mysticism, ritualism and asceticism? How is Jesus superior to all
religions? Why can’t man achieve spirituality, peace and piety by his own
efforts? Do you have peace with God? Are you living in righteousness? If not,
how can you?


Sermon Notes – 10/24/2010

The Superiority of Jesus Christ to Religion – Colossians




All revivals begin with professing believers being
_______about trusting the Lord and walking with Him

Replacing the sufficiency of Jesus Christ with anything
else results in a loss of a _________Christian life

Jesus is __________ over Creation, the church, philosophy
and all religions.

The effort of religion has always been to replace what God
has said with something ________has devised

Even the religious practices of ancient Judaism were only
_________of what was to come in Jesus Christ

The Christian’s Position – vs. 20

    Died in Christ – a statement of our position from the
negative standpoint of ___________.

Being “dead in our transgressions” was your
____________ state without Jesus (Ephesians 2:1)

Being made alive in Christ is having your ___________
regenerated to be able to commune with God

Having “died with Christ” refers to a
____________in your relationship to the Law & sin and yourself.

Galatians 2:20
Romans 6:3-5         Romans 6:6-23

    Dead to the World

“Elementary principles” refers to the “first things in a
series,” what is “___________________”

Galatians 4:3 – Paul speaks about foundational religious
practices – as in training _________________

Paul is not against rudimentary training, but the
Christian life goes far ___________ that

Laws restrict sinners by ______of punishment, but the
godly act righteously out of love for God & others

Paul is not questioning their position in Christ, but
____________it to their response to the false teachers

The Law was a schoolmaster or __________ to bring us to
Christ (Galatians 3:24)

Submission to the Beliefs – vs. 20-23

Paul challenges their submission to the decrees of the
false teachers as ____________with belief in Jesus

    Ascetic Dogmas – vs. 21. “Do not handle, do not
taste, do not touch!”

These express categorical __________of the specific
conduct to prevent the action from ever taking place

Possibly an escalation of increasing dietary

More probably a caricature of the general tone of the
_____________ of decrees they were being made

    Their Destiny – vs. 22. “which all refer to
things destined to perish with the using.”

The legalist perceives holiness to be related to the
___________world instead based in the spiritual world

Matthew 15:10-20 – defilement comes from what proceeds
__________ the heart of man

True holiness arises from ____________ a person who has
been changed by the Holy Spirit

    Their Source – vs. 22. “in accordance with the
commandments and teachings of men.”

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees & scribes for “teaching as
doctrines the precepts of ______”
(Matthew 15:9)

Church covenants must be in strict accord with the
____________ themselves

Submission to such covenants must be from the correct
__________- they cannot be the “church’s rules”

Be a Berean (Acts 17) that always returns to the
____________ to see if what is taught is true

    Their Failure – vs. 23. –

Legalism substitutes a list of _________ that seem helpful
until a circumstance outside the rules is faced

Mysticism gives the _____________ of spirituality, but it
perverts the understanding of God and His will

Ritualism gives the appearance of _____________ due to the
care and reverence in carrying them out

There only two religious rituals commanded by our Lord –
___________ and Communion

At best, other rituals can only reflect holiness, but they
cannot ___________ it – and they often hinder it.

_________is often a part of self-made religion and can
include self-abasement & severe bodily treatment

Asceticism is an effort to achieve piety by
________________ instead of receiving it from God by faith

Ascetics stress strict self-discipline to gain _______over
the flesh and gain superior virtue and spirituality

Asceticism fails because sin originates in heart and only
__________ can change it

Ascetics lack ______with God because they reject the
forgiveness of sin that comes only by faith in Jesus

Beware of the legalism, mysticism, ritualism and
asceticism that have crept into __________Christianity




Jesus Christ is ____________ to all religions

Man cannot achieve ___________ spirituality, peace or
piety by any religious works

True righteous living only comes by ________in Jesus
Christ and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit

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