Proverbs 19 & Colossians 2

Proverbs 19

    Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
        than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
    Desire without knowledge is not good,
        and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
    When a man's folly brings his way to ruin,
        his heart rages against the LORD.
    Wealth brings many new friends,
        but a poor man is deserted by his friend.
    A false witness will not go unpunished,
        and he who breathes out lies will not escape.
    Many seek the favor of a generous man,
        and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.
    All a poor man's brothers hate him;
        how much more do his friends go far from him!
    He pursues them with words, but does not have them.
    Whoever gets sense loves his own soul;
        he who keeps understanding will discover good.
    A false witness will not go unpunished,
        and he who breathes out lies will perish.
    It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury,
        much less for a slave to rule over princes.
    Good sense makes one slow to anger,
        and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
    A king's wrath is like the growling of a lion,
        but his favor is like dew on the grass.
    A foolish son is ruin to his father,
        and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.
    House and wealth are inherited from fathers,
        but a prudent wife is from the LORD.
    Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep,
        and an idle person will suffer hunger.
    Whoever keeps the commandment keeps his life;
        he who despises his ways will die.
    Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD,
        and he will repay him for his deed.
    Discipline your son, for there is hope;
        do not set your heart on putting him to death.
    A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,
        for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.
    Listen to advice and accept instruction,
        that you may gain wisdom in the future.
    Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
        but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
    What is desired in a man is steadfast love,
        and a poor man is better than a liar.
    The fear of the LORD leads to life,
        and whoever has it rests satisfied;
        he will not be visited by harm.
    The sluggard buries his hand in the dish
        and will not even bring it back to his mouth.
    Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence;
        reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.
    He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother
        is a son who brings shame and reproach.
    Cease to hear instruction, my son,
        and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
    A worthless witness mocks at justice,
        and the mouth of the wicked devours iniquity.
    Condemnation is ready for scoffers,
        and beating for the backs of fools.
    

(Proverbs 19 ESV)

Colossians 2

    For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

    Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

    See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

    Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

    If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

(Colossians 2 ESV)

Colossians 2: Self-made religion and asceticism are the elementary principles of this world that man uses in order to pave his own path for spirituality and the worship of God. Religious acts that display one’s own self-discipline and self-denial can give off the appearance of great spirituality, but they prove to be of no value in putting to death the desires of our human nature. Spiritual practice that promotes severe self-denial as the way of salvation is in essence self-centered religion that denies the saving work of Christ. 

According to Scripture, a Christian is a man who has died to the elementary principles of this world. So why do we constantly find ourselves trying to add various religious practices that we must perform on top of what Christ has already done for us? The substance of Christianity is found in Christ alone. 

When we put our hope in our own humility, we dishonor the Lord who is our only hope. When we seek to save ourselves through self-discipline and self-denial, we dishonor the Lord who is our only Way of salvation. True self-denial of yourself is sacrificially living for Christ. Therefore, as we have received the Lord’s salvation through faith in Him, may we continue to grow in our spirituality through faith in Him. For all the treasures of spiritual wisdom and knowledge are to be found in God’s grand mystery that two-thousand years ago was revealed as Christ our Lord