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. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
After laying out the work of Christ through his death and resurrection, Paul now applies it to specific situations that the Colossians were dealing with. “Therefore” points back to his explanation that you have been forgiven all your trespasses. Thus, do not let anyone judge you based on things such as what you can eat or drink. Since our spiritual fullness is in Christ, we do not need to add these rules for spiritual fullness.
The false teachers influencing the Colossians were either Jewish or heavily influenced by Jewish law. They were perhaps demanding observance of festivals, clean and unclean foods, and even the Sabbath. However, Paul reminds us that many of the festivals, rules, etc. of the Jewish law were pointing to something greater…Christ! They were a shadow. Christ has now come, so we no longer need the shadow because we have the true substance. The Old Covenant system with animal sacrifices, ceremonies, temple, etc has been replaced by the New Covenant where Christ has fulfilled all such requirements.
Although we may not have the same Jewish influence as the Colossians, we can easily let tradition lead us down a path where we place unbiblical, man-made laws on others. Remember, your freedom is in Christ and your acceptance is based on his work, not your ability to jump through religious observances that God has not required in Scripture.
- How can it be dangerous to follow man-made, religious rules?
- What’s the danger of imposing such rules on others?
- How can we know if something is man-made or God-ordained?