“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—’Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ (Colossians 2:20-21).
While the passing of a loved one is undoubtedly traumatic and difficult, we can often take comfort in the fact that he or she is no longer subject to the difficulties, responsibilities, and obligations associated with this life. You see, death releases us from the commitments and obligations of the world we leave behind. In a similar manner, Colossians 2:20 tells us that those who are in Christ have died to the basic principles of this world and have no further commitment or obligation to them.
While we often speak of “the world” in terms of the physical environment in which we live, the “elements” (WYC), referenced in this passage have nothing to do with the ecology of our planet. As mentioned earlier in our look at Colossians 2:8, those elements are linked to the philosophies, opinions, values, worldviews, societal attitudes, and belief systems that characterize the world as it is and reject the God who is revealed within the pages of the Bible.
This aspect of the world is identified in the New Testament book of 1 John and bears repeating…
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:15-17 NET).
When a concept like this is reiterated twice within a few short verses (as we see here in Colossians 2:8 and 2:20), we would do well to pay close attention. Much like those who have passed from this physical life, those who are in Christ are dead to the principles of this world but alive to God in Him (Romans 6:11). The New Testament book of Galatians builds upon this idea with the following insight…
“I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20 AMP).