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

Introduction

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 ritualism.

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). 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). 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). 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. 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 Him (Christ).” If we were dead, how could we die again? What is Paul talking about?

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 world.” 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 touch!” 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 15:9).

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 it.

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.

Conclusions

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.

Sermon Notes – 10/24/2010

The Superiority of Jesus Christ to Religion Colossians 3:20-23

Introduction

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

Conclusions

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

KIDS CORNER

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.

THINK ABOUT IT!

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?


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