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In Christ, Freedom and True Spiritual Growth is Found

16 Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)

In light of being complete in Christ, from verses 16 to 23, Paul shows then how believers have freedom in Christ, connecting both sections with our favorite transition word “Therefore.” Specifically, “Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.” As a reminder, the Gnostics were the false teachers that were sharing false doctrines, such as requiring people to earn their salvation through works and rituals or obtain the secret knowledge of salvation through special revelations only available to the leaders.

By Paul’s statements in verse 16, we can infer that the Gnostics were putting special stipulations on what to eat and drink and what special holidays that needed to be observed (festival, new moon, or Sabbath day). Yet, believers are not required to uphold dietary restrictions and special days. We can see this in Hebrews 9:10, “They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order,” as well as Galatians 4:8-11 “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.”

Paul states that this kind of rule keeping is a “shadow of what was to come,” that there is no real spiritual substance. They pointed to where fullness and substance can be found, Christ Jesus. As Max Anders comments, “Legalism—measuring your own or someone else’s spirituality by the ability to keep man-made rules—is a rigid, confining, and lifeless way to live.” That goes in direct opposition of the giver of life, Christ, as seen in John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Walking with Christ daily leads to true spiritual growth. We are saved by grace and not by our own works (see Ephesians 2:1-10), contrary to what the Gnostics stated.


Isaac De Guzman


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