“These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings” (Colossians 2:22 NET).
Some religious organizations insist that it is impossible to understand the Scriptures without the use of their study materials. Others claim to possess exclusive insights into the future based on their unique view of Biblical symbolism. Then there are those who promote “faith” as a means to obtain whatever we wish.
When evaluating such beliefs (and others like them), its critical to ask this question: “Does this doctrine have its origin in the Scriptures or does it originate in someone’s interpretation of the Scriptures?” This is important because a doctrine that originates in someone’s idea of what the Bible says may be founded on nothing more than a human command or teaching.
For instance, Jesus once offered a sharp rebuke to a group of spiritual leaders who had replaced God’s commands with their personal views and opinions…
“Isaiah really knew what he was talking about when he prophesied about you hypocrites. He wrote, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. Their worship of me is empty since they teach instructions that are human words.’
You ignore God’s commandment while holding on to rules created by humans and handed down to you… In this way you do away with God’s word in favor of the rules handed down to you, which you pass on to others. And you do a lot of other things just like that” (Mark 7:6-8, 13 CEB).
To help identify those who do away with God’s Word in favor of human regulations, the following source alerts us to four harmful teachings adapted from this letter to the Colossian church…
“The first harmful teaching is ‘higher’ knowledge (Gnosticism). Some examples are: so called scientific, archaeological, or paleontological ‘facts’ that contradict Scripture, so called revelations that claim to be on a par with Scripture, and teaching that directly contradicts biblical revelation.
The second harmful teaching is the observance of laws to win God’s love (legalism). Some examples are: salvation by works, teaching that puts Christians under the Mosaic Law, and teaching that says sanctification comes by keeping man-made rules.
The third harmful teaching is the belief that beings other than Christ must mediate between people and God (mysticism). Some examples are: teachings that certain beings (e.g., angels, ‘saints,’ ancestors) or experiences (e.g., glossolalia, hearing voices) can improve our relationship with God.
The fourth harmful teaching is the practice of abstaining from things to earn merit with God (asceticism). Some examples are: fasting to force God’s hand, living in isolation to avoid temptation, and self-mutilation to mortify the flesh.” (1)
(1) Constable, Thomas. DD. “Commentary on 2:20-23”. “Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable”. https://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/colossians/colossians.htm.