Appearance of Wisdom

Paul tells the Colossians that there are rules that people will follow that seem to be wise. Do this, or don’t do that. These are commands that the world gives that seem wise, but don’t actually do you any good.

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Colossians 2:20-23

It is this last part that I think is intriguing and is important to understand:

…but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

The rules that seem wise are rules of restriction, intended to keep us away from the things that we would actually like to do, but are actually harmful to us. But in those cases, because we are weak creatures, Paul points out that the rules actually are lacking in value to restrain us from indulging ourselves in the sin that they are intended to keep us from. That is why Paul says that those rules seem wise, but actually lack value in truly keeping us from sin.

What is required instead is valuing something even greater. In the next chapter, Paul will go on to talk about the fact that Christ has given us life. Christ is the one that we must desire above all else. More than our sensual desires. More than what the world has to offer, we must desire him. We must want to be with him. That relationship with him will have great value in not only restraining us from sensual indulgence, but in living in holiness. Because we find our joy in Christ, we no longer find joy in sin. We no longer find pleasure in the things of the world, but in the things of God. This is no longer an appearance of wisdom, but is what it means to be truly wise!

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