Welcome Young Believer! These last few days we've been studying topics that are increasingly complex and controversial across the different branches of the Church. For some Christians, this is a devastating realization as they try to sort through what is true and what has been made up over the centuries since Christ walked the earth. All of these questions lead these Christians away from the Church and often away from faith entirely. Does that mean we stop asking questions and seeking out the truth? No! But as we search we must remember that Jesus is enough. What He did for us by living a sinless life, dying on the cross, and rising from the grave doesn't need any addition on our part (or any subtraction for that matter, but we'll talk about that more tomorrow).
The Church at Colosse was having many of these same struggles in 50-60 AD although the attack on their faith came from different origins than the ones we face today. Hearing of their struggles Paul wrote them a letter to refute the claims of the false teachers who were confusing the church and to encourage them.
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. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. 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— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 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 2:16-23
The Christians in Colosse were a mixture of Jewish and Gentile believers. The Jewish believers criticized their Gentile brothers and sisters because they did not adhere to the same food requirements, celebrations, or sacrifices that the Jewish believers did. The Jewish part of the congregation was still struggling to understand that the Messiah's salvation was a gift and required absolutely no work on their part only faith. Their confusion on this point was dragging the whole church in the wrong direction. That word 'asceticism' is a severe form of self-discipline or denying oneself typically for religious reasons. In one way or another, this practice would continue in the Church until long after the Reformation.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6
I love how my Pastor put this when he taught on this passage a few months ago, he said, "Don't worship the shadow when the Savior is right in front of you."
It's easy to be led astray in our desire to live in a way that honors God when we judge others for the rules their conscience and the Word of God doesn't clearly lead them to follow. It's even easier to be led astray when we listen to others' judgment of the way we live our lives when their advice seems wise and holy. However, no matter how many rules you add or freedoms you add to your "faith" only Christ can save. Remember only Christ is enough!
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I highly encourage you to find a mentor in the faith who can help personally walk you through many of these issues as you grow into a mature believer. This is one journey you were never meant to take alone!