Colossians 2:20-23 – “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations — 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” NKJV
Through the years I have heard Christians express their utter shock that someone professing to be a Christian would do certain things. I heard a story of a man in a church who was dying. He had received Jesus only a short time before his untimely sickness and as several of the church members gathered to his bedside to pray. The sick man asked one of the ladies of the church to light a cigarette for him. She gasped and angrily said to him, “You are going to hell if you do that!” The pastor was there, and he reached down took the cigarette lit it, and placed it on the lips of the dying man.
Some in the church wanted to run the Pastor out of town for committing such a horrendous sin. He explained, “This man was dying. He had accepted Christ a few weeks earlier and while he (the pastor) did not smoke he felt that it was demonstrating more of the heart of Christ to honor the man’s request than place him in greater trauma by refusing and heaping guilt on him that had not come as conviction from the Holy Spirit but from man.” He cited passage in Colossians and then quoted Mark 7 reminding them of what Jesus said.
Our Lord spoke to the Pharisees and Scribes the words of Isaiah the prophet and called them hypocrites. Honoring God with the lips but their failure to have what was coming from the lips to be manifested in the heart was not pleasing to God. He addressed the tradition of men and compared it to washing eating and drinking utensils on the outside.
Jesus then addressed that it is not what goes in the mouth of man that defiles but what comes out of the heart. The dying man had come to a loving knowledge of Christ and although he was placing something that could be harmful to his physical body out of his heart proceeded genuine love for God. Some in the congregation were rendering judgment based on their personal preference and interpretation of Scripture. The danger is that in judging by our standards we miss God’s standards and rather than manifesting the heart of Christ we can manifest the heart of a Pharisee.
Out of the heart comes evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. Out of the thoughts which plant seeds in the heart and ultimately become words and possibly deeds are where the real problem lies not what one takes into the body by the mouth. He attempted to address the problem of becoming so rigid in our ‘touch not, taste not, handle not’ that we lose our tender-heartedness and fail to manifest the genuine love of Christ.
Hear me! I am not endorsing taking things into the body that are harmful. I am saying that the greater issue is our hearts. If we are IN CHRIST, why are we bound by the traditions of men? I never want to become a Pharisee and have a holiness that is only outward. I want any holiness I have to be from within and when it is from within it will ultimately become manifest in the flesh as well as the spirit.
I am confident that God is capable of bringing conviction to any heart. He directs me to teach His word and present His truth and in so doing the Holy Spirit speaks to hearts but ultimately it is God that brings conviction and if someone has a habit I do not condone it does not mean they are not a follower of Christ. No, it means we are not at the same place in our walk and level of understanding.
I’ve had the Lord bring conviction to my heart and direct me that I could not do some things. He would then tell me that whether others did or did not, was none of my business. He had a reason and has not always informed me as to why. My response is that if the Holy Spirit says No, it is No for me. If He says Yes, it is Yes for me. Some things are just for me not to be imposed on everyone else.
Why I would Never! No, you wouldn’t but that does not mean God has directed everyone else the same. Some that look down their noses on people who have a habit they consider vile are guilty of seriously overeating. Both are usually expressions of a lack of discipline. Before you condemn everyone not following your pathway to holiness remember that the splinter in their eye may be minor compared to the log in your own. I have been there!
God bless you as you go through your day!