“You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.” Colossians 2:20-23 NLT
Spiritual disciplines are beneficial when it comes to conscientious conduct but not for earning acceptance with God. We all should strive to please the Lord in our choices and behavior. Moral excellence is becoming of a child of God. However, it cannot satisfy the requirements of salvation. Only a perfect sacrifice can do that. Jesus Christ is that perfect sacrifice. If we try to replace His free and full salvation with our religious observances we completely destroy the purpose of the cross. On the cross Jesus bore the wrath of God toward sin. In His death, burial, and resurrection God gave us the gift of eternal salvation. This gift is received, not achieved! When we acknowledge our sin, repent of it, and accept Christ as the payment for that sin, we are transformed from sinner to saint (see Romans 6:23; 10:8-10, 13; Ephesians 2:8-10) Only the blood of Jesus can do that (see I Peter 1:18-19). We do disgrace to the body and blood of Jesus when we supplement our "righteous" keeping of any ordinance for His gift. No act of ours is capable of saving us. If we could save ourselves then why did Jesus come to earth and die for our sins? He did so because we were incapable of redeeming ourselves. Anyone who teaches that we must believe in Jesus and keep certain other religious ordinances to be saved is a false teacher. Our observances should only flow from a heart that seeks to honor the Lord. Yes, He is Holy. Yes, He is worthy of our commitment and service! No one should use the gift of salvation as a license to be immoral. To do so is a complete distortion of His redeeming grace. He has saved us from sin, not so we can play in the mud of sin like pigs. Religious rites or ceremonies have their place in our worship but not in our redemption. We must never confuse the two. We cannot keep enough Sabbaths, eat enough of the right religiously "clean" foods, attend enough church services, pray enough prayers, read enough religious publications, or anything else to conquer sin. There is only One Conqueror of sin - Jesus Christ.
Rev. Curtis Norris