|Letters of John Quincy Adams, to his son, on the Bible and its teachings.|
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 ( referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.—Colossians 2:20-23, ESVPeople love to make their own philosophical and moral code and apply it to others, especially based on rules that they like and tend to keep. In essence, though, this code says, “Hey, look at me. I am an upright and good person since I hold to all of these rules. If anyone has any chance of going to heaven, then I am definitely going.” (Even if they say everyone can choose his own rules, in hypocrisy, they still apply the rule of, “Don’t force your beliefs on me,” to others.)
Paul’s point in this passage is that man’s rules only lead to more enslavement to the lusts of the body. They don’t change a person’s heart which is the root of the problem. However, as he explained earlier in this passage, when a person receives salvation by God’s grace through one putting his faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, the person is changed from the inside out. He receives a circumcision (in a spiritual sense) of his old self, his sinful habits, and his futile mindset. In their place, he receives a spiritual resurrection (and a bodily one on the Last Day). He receives the mind and spirit of Christ, and by God’s grace, lives this new life through faith.
Therefore, let us strive to be assured in who Christ is and what He has already done, and let us also be confident in our assurance by growing, daily, in our knowledge of God and obedience to His Word, by his grace.
One of the best ways to do this is to develop a habit of reading the Bible and, in faith by God’s grace, applying the principles that we understand. John Quincy Adams would agree. Just as a son learns and grows in the deeper lessons of life as he obeys his father, it’s the same with us. As the son continues to obey, his understanding of his father and love for him also increases. It is the same with us and God.