Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Col. 2:16-23 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. [17] These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. [18] Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, [19] and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. [20] 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— [21] "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" [22] (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? [23] 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.

Some time ago, I was watching the TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. One of the questions was how did God first appear to Moses. The man correctly answered in a burning bush. The shows host responded, “That’s right yes He did.” Then she said, “Actually we don’t know if God is a man or a woman.” Her remark is representative of the religious confusion in our country. Most people in this nation have no idea who God is or what He requires of them. I refer to God as He because this is how the Bible refers to Him. It is true that God is not a man. The Bible says God is spirit. John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

I told you this story because it exemplifies what is happening in our nation. Unfortunately it also exemplifies what is taking place in the church. Many people are being led away from faith in Christ by false religious teachings and philosophies. These false teachings and philosophies are not new. The church has had to deal with them from its beginning. In fact, every book in the New Testament except Philemon mentions the dangers of false teaching. In Christ’s letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation He warned and rebuked the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira because they had allowed themselves to be influenced by false teachers. I wonder what Christ would write to the church in America today. I am sure He would also rebuke and warn us!

Man is a very religious creature. He is going to worship something even if it means worshiping himself. Because of man’s religious nature and his sinfulness many religions have been developed. Unfortunately these religions serve as religious substitutes for the true faith in Christ. Many of these substitutes are very deceptive because they use Christian terminology. We must not let this fool us. False religion will always provide some other way to God than Jesus Christ. My goal in sharing this devotion is to help you recognize and avoid these religious substitutes. This morning’s text describes three specific religious substitutes for faith in Jesus Christ. They are legalism, mysticism, and asceticism. Every false religion or philosophy is based upon one or a combination of these religious substitutes. Dear People of God, beware of any so-called religious substitutes for Christ!

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