Why if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances,…
I. IS SIMPLY ELEMENTARY. "The rudiments of the world." It is in its nature transitory and imperfect. It conveys knowledge but in part; and when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part is done away.
II. IS UNWORTHY THE SUBMISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER. The believer is liberated from the slavery of the ceremonial.
III. IN ITS MAIN FEATURES IS UNIVERSALLY THE SAME.
1. It is the same in its dictatorial prohibitions. "Touch not," etc.
2. It is the same in its undue exaltation of the external and the transitory, "Which perish," etc.
3. It is the same in its human origin. "After the commandments and doctrines of men." The ceremonial in religion is an accumulation of the commandments and doctrines of men. Depending on human authority, it has no value in itself; and when it is made obligatory in order to salvation, it is an insult to Christ, and an intolerable servitude to man.
IV. CAN NEVER SATISFY THE MANY-SIDED WANTS OF HUMANITY.
1. It pretends to a wisdom it does not possess.
(1) In self-imposed methods of worship. The enthusiast for the ceremonial argues that he who only does what God positively demands does only what is common; but he who goes beyond reaches a higher degree of saintliness.
(2) In the affectation of a spurious humility. It is a pretence of wisdom to renounce all worldly splendour, and profess to live in poverty and seclusion.
(3) In an unjustifiable indifference to bodily wants. The body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and is to be honoured, and all its just wants satisfied, in order that its best powers may be employed in the service of God. But the abuse of the body in starvation and neglect is a folly and a sin.
2. It is of no value in preventing the indulgence of the flesh. "Not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." The radical error of the ascetic lies in his belief that evil resides in matter. Not the body, but in the soul is the source of sin.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,