Useful Bible Studies > Colossians Commentary > chapter 2

The dangers of strict self-control in religion

Colossians 2:23

Sometimes, for a time of special prayer, a Christian separates himself from other people. Perhaps also during that time, the Christian may refuse certain things that his body wants or needs. For example, he might refuse to eat. That was what Christ did. He prayed in the desert for 40 days and during that time, he did not eat (Matthew 4:1-2).

However, the person who does such things, must be extremely careful about his own attitudes. He might desire God to answer his prayers – but he must never imagine that he can control God. He might want to become more holy – but he must never imagine that it will make him more powerful or important than other people.

In such situations, selfish attitudes are a great danger. Those attitudes can replace our desire to do what God wants. They can cause us to behave in a more and more extreme manner. In the end, our bodies may truly suffer, but it does nothing to make our relationship with God stronger. Rather, the opposite happens. We become even more selfish and proud because of what we have done. Our actions may impress other people, but they cannot impress God. He knows the truth about us and our wrong attitudes.

Paul wrote this because he knew about the ideas of some teachers in the churches (2:18). They made strict rules for Christians to follow (2:21). They said that their rules would give Christians more control over their own desires and therefore more power in the spirit world. It was not true. Rather those Christians were doing things that God did not want them to do. They did it for selfish reasons: they wanted that power for themselves. So of course they did not overcome their selfish desires. Rather, their selfish desires overcame them.

Next part: Christians should think about God and about heaven (Colossians 3:1)


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