Appearance and Reality

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Colossians 2:16-23

16 Therefore no one is to [a]act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath [b]day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the [c]substance [d]belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one keep [e]defrauding you of your prize by delighting in [f]self-abasement and the worship of the angels, [g]taking his stand on visions he has seen, [h]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 [i]ligaments, grows with a growth [j]which is from God.

20 If you have died with Christ [k]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 [l]with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the [m]appearance of wisdom in [n]self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Discussion Questions

July  ,2018


1. Based on verses 16-17, how would you respond to another Christian who told you certain foods, drinks, and days were absolutely to be avoided or upheld, as an aspect of Christian living? For example, eating meat, drinking alcohol, and certain things that must be done or not done on Sundays. (Note the contrast in verse 17 of “shadow” and “substance”). Check out Romans 14:1-23.

2. What does it mean to be “holding fast to the head” in verse 19? How does this keep us from the abuses mentioned in verse 18? See 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27

3. In verses 20-23 we are told to avoid “decrees, such as ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’” These prohibitions, while giving the appearance of wise religious practice, are shown to be useless in avoiding “fleshly indulgence” (verse 23). How would you advise a student at a Christian college who is confused about signing a Code of Conduct required by the college that excludes certain practices that the student feels free to engage in as a Christian (for example, moderate use of alcohol at family holiday meals)? See Romans 8:1-7 and ll Corinthians 3:17