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‘When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.’ (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship) Hear the call of Jesus now to pick up your cross and follow him.

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Bible passage Colossians 2:16–23

 16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

 20Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21"Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

Explore the Bible

Tricky relationships
Navigating our way around relationships is rarely straightforward. Working out realities such as forgiveness, reconciliation, conflict, honesty and trust are often fraught with problems. There are times in the office, home or church when we feel we are walking on eggshells. Or to change the metaphor, dealing with inter-relational tensions can sometimes be like an elaborate dance with two people trying to avoid treading on each other’s toes.

But Paul suggests there are times when compromise is dangerous. In this passage he issues two commands: ‘do not let anyone condemn you,’ and ‘do not let anyone disqualify’ you. He seems to quote some of the expressions he’s heard: ‘do not handle. Do not taste! Do not touch!’ (v 21).

Stick to the gospel (again!)
These Colossian Christians are being sucked into sensationalism and legalism (vs 18,22), neither of which is any use for godliness (v 23b). Unless they wake up soon they could be in deep trouble.

Paul has heard there are some in this church who are being swayed by different religious ideas and practices, and he’s not impressed. Through faith in Christ they have been forgiven and are now free to live uncluttered lives. Christ is all we need (vs 17,19)!


Are there some relationships troubling you? Maybe you’re being unduly influenced? Talk to the Lord about them now.

Gethin Russell-Jones

Deeper Bible study

Let us lay aside the distractions and, through God’s Word, seek to encounter the living Christ.

If Satan can’t prevent us being Christians, he can distort our view of what Christianity is all about. He can distract us from Christ. The Colossians might have been influenced by the Jewish synagogue, or mystery cults, or pagan practices or even local folk religion. We too live in a syncretistic, plural context, but scripture calls us to reject impostors and to focus on what Christ has done.

One impostor is religious observance. You can have demanding religious scruples about certain foods, or new moon celebrations, or special Sabbath days (v 16), but they can divert people from Christ. The Colossians were probably told that a new moon or the movement of the planets influenced the way they lived, rather like horoscopes in our newspapers, but these are just shadows – they’re not the real thing (v 17). The substance belongs to Christ. It is Jesus, not religious activity, which saves us. Another impostor can be religious experience (vs 18,19). The Colossians were being judged by their critics because they didn’t measure up in terms of experience. The danger here is to think that religious experience is proof of religious reality. Perhaps this was a warning against the desire for some dramatic experience of the spiritual world. However, if such experiences are not centred on Christ they result only in spiritual pride. The third impostor lies in religious rules (vs 20–23). I earn it, I live a good life, I keep the rules. All such rigorous self-denial is a vain attempt to become more holy (v 23).

All three impostors are the opposite of the gospel. They miss the truth of what Christ has done for us. They fail to grasp the greatest news of all: that he is sufficient. The way to true spirituality is through our union with Christ.

Jonathan Lamb

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Ezekiel 20,21

1 Peter 2

Audio prayer

‘So, then, if with Christ you've put all that pretentious and infantile religion behind you, why do you let yourselves be bullied by it?’ (Colossians 2:20, The Message).

Listen to this prayer, and bring before God any striving or legalistic feelings that you have to make yourself acceptable to him. Enter into the fullness of the freedom Jesus has won for you.

Martin Hodson


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The splendour of the king (How great is our God)
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  • Rachael Hampton | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Rules. Road rules. Family rules. The Ten Commandments. Even 'Christians should .... Christians don't .... Christians must .....'. We all need rules to guide us advise us, and keep us safe. It's when they become a substitute for living in union with Jesus and listening to the Spirit that they become a deceit and a hindrance. V23 sums it up beautifully - 'they don't really have any power over our desires.' It's the heart that has to be changed by the power of God, rules can never do that.

  • Rachael Hampton | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Thanking God for your good results Peter. Sue (are you in Australia Sue?) Paul, Catherine, thank you for your encouragement. O Kathryn, thank you for sharing with us this heartbreaking news so that together the WL family can lift united prayers to God for Rubia, Andrew and James - and their captors. Amen to the prayers already expressed. We take authority over the evil powers behind this situation and proclaim Jesus victory over them. V15 We look for miracles, and for God's light to show the way through this labyrinth of contacts, and who to trust. And we thank You Father for people like Kathryn and her husband. Please bless them and keep them safe. It's in The powerful Name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

  • Barbara Sabin | Thursday, 09 November 2017

    Jesus fulfilled the law on the cross at Calvary, He died that we might be forgiven, He died to make us good, that we might go at last to heaven SAVED BY HIS PRECIOUS BLOOD.

  • Hugh Skeil | Friday, 10 November 2017

    "These Colossian Christians are being sucked into sensationalism and legalism (vs 18,22)" thanks Geraint for this summary. These are two attractive alternatives to the Grace-fuelled obedience that Jesus calls us to. Interesting how, although apparently very different, they often show up together in churches and in our own lives.

  • Paul Brewu | Friday, 10 November 2017

    Folks, Christians shouldn't and it's written in the bible and all.....One question bothers me: I know God will not reject a person with tattoos on the skin when he/she repents and comes to Christ. But is it a sin to tattoo one's body - what exactly is wrong with it?

  • Pam Carpenter | Friday, 10 November 2017

    PAUL it is my belief that God looks at the heart and not the outside. I don’t believe for one moment that when we stand before Him he will be concerned with whether or not we have a tattoo but He will be concerned with how well we have served Him in our treatment of others, He will notice how quick we are to judge and exclude others because they don’t conform to our own beliefs and practices, He will be concerned with how faithful we have been, how much or how little we have given of ourselves. But those are just my own thoughts, I am thankful beyond words that God loves me with all my imperfections and that Jesús died for me a sinner makes me feel so humble.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 10 November 2017

    PAUL the bible does mention tattoos in some versions but it doesn't say anything about injecting ink under the skin to form a permanent mark. My advice would be 'think before you ink'. Why do you want tattoos. Do you have the cash to pay for it. What will it look like when I'm old and wrinkly. The fact that you asked the question means you are in a good place and my prayer for you is that God will guide you in this and every decision you make so that ultimately you have peace and it helps bring you to a high degree of oneness in Him.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 10 November 2017

    v 22 This is a radical statement that comes as a complete shock to most of us Christians. All our rules and regulations about what we can and cannot do are the doctrines and commandments of mankind. Jesus gave us the commands to love God and love others That sums up our obligation to God and man. This is not to say that we are not to pray and study the Word, but loving God will cause us to do those things. Likewise, being in fellowship with God will cause us to treat our fellow man properly. Those of us who are trying to regulate our actions by rules are missing the blessing of a loving relationship with the Lord. There is really only one thing that we must focus on, and that is loving the Lord and abiding in that love. Once this is done, it is not us living but Christ living through us, and His holy life will be manifest in our actions.

  • Janet Webb | Friday, 10 November 2017

    Good morning friends. PAUL, surely a tattoo is no more problematic than styling your hair in a way that pleases you, choosing clothes that fit well or wearing makeup or jewellery. If these things become obsessions, then they cause a problem because of their distraction - idols in themselves. KATHRYN , praying for your friends and for wisdom for those with the power to intervene.

  • Angela Munday | Friday, 10 November 2017

    Because of God's good grace and our belief in our Saviour, Christ Jesus, we are able to live a new, transformed life. As Paul says to the Ephesians "Put on your new nature, created to be like God - truly righteous and holy"........ DEREK praying you are well; I have missed you.

  • Paul Burkimsher | Friday, 10 November 2017

    Personally, I find tattoos loathsome. But that doesn’t make them sinful. It is not unknown for some Christians to try to impose their own views on others by calling something sinful though.

  • Carol Stockman | Friday, 10 November 2017

    Thank you those of WL family who prayed for my operation on Tuesday. All went well and I felt the Lord's hand on me throughout. Praise God.

  • Eileen Smith | Friday, 10 November 2017

    PAUL ( Brewu) -- I don't see a tattoo as sinful but would suggest careful thought about the choice of the tattoo.

  • Barbara Sabin | Friday, 10 November 2017

    PAUL like Gilvin I would ask why do you want tattoos you will be a marked man for life. The human body is God’s creation, and it is therefore unbefitting to mutilate God’s handiwork. It is especially unbefitting for members of God’s chosen nation to mutilate their bodies. One must believe that God, the greatest artisan of all, formed him or her in the most fitting way, and one must not change this form. Changing one’s body (unless it is for health reasons) is tantamount to insulting God’s handiwork.

  • Paul Brewu | Friday, 10 November 2017

    Really thankful for yourcomments. I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened and that we will have the mind of Christ.

  • Ruth Lewis | Friday, 10 November 2017

    I am thanking God for answering the Prayers for the WL family members we have been praying for!!!

  • Paul Burkimsher | Friday, 10 November 2017

    Barbara: Extraordinarily well put! I have heard many of my Christian nudist friends echo the same sentiments, if not in such an eloquent way as yours!

  • Thelma Edwards | Friday, 10 November 2017

    Thanks for praying for Don and continuing health and strength for me as I go back and forth so frequently at the moment. I can give thanks that he seems to have settled well and is happy and we are having some good times remembering the past as I discover some of his treasures or something of family history. This time has brought us closer together and the Lord has given me a love for my brother than I find especially wonderful. Last Sunday I wanted to prepare him for a visit from the Podiatrist and he has been refusing all attempts to help with his personal hygiene and simply does not wash! However, I had discovered an old baby bath in clearing out his old home that looked vaguely familiar. I filled it with warm bubbly water and put it on the floor in front of him while he was watching TV. I explained that I wanted to wash his feet ready for the Podiatrist and I helped him lift his feet into the bath for a soak saying "this bath looks vaguely familiar". He complied with my wishes and replied that it was my baby bath and that he used to bath me in it. He enjoyed soaking his feet and we were able to talk about what he did with me as a baby (he was 13 when I was born) while I knelt beside him and washed his feet and gently scrubbed round his toenails. "It's nice to soak your feet sometimes" he said. He then said "you are like Jesus washing my feet". This really blessed me as I did not realise he knew Bible stories and I have been praying that I would be like Jesus' hands and feet to him. It felt as if the Lord was giving us both a hug. Please keep praying as we still have no telephone landline and are going over tomorrow to do more sorting and clearing and will stay for a week.

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