Col 2:16-3 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians+2%3A16-3%3A25&version=NIV
I've always liked rules. I love to follow them, be it a diet, fitness program, work process, math formula, etc. Even in my spiritual life I notice I make little rules not only to try to keep myself from sin and indulgence, but also subconsciously about other seemingly good things. For example I read my bible in the morning every day at the same time. This is a great habit, but I feel guilty if I don't do it, which indicates to me that it perhaps has become an inappropriate regulation in my life. I also struggle (like I assume most people do!) with food and drink and this one really consumes me sometimes. I get obsessed with diet or lack of and don't even get me started on the guilt level I can reach if I feel like I had too much to drink on an occasion, and I'm not talking about being totally drunk, I don't do that anymore PTL, but even having some socially.
The problem with rules, even good ones, is they lead to spiritual legalism and keep us from living in the freedom Christ died to give us. They make us feel a false sense of righteousness when we follow them correctly and a false sense of guilt if we break them. God really impressed this on my heart this morning while reading the verses referenced above:
We will never successfully combat fleshly desires & indulgence with restrictions and rules but only when we are truly led by the spirit and our minds are focused on things of above rather than here, being prayerful at all times and thankful.
I've had head knowledge of this but really feel it home today. The trouble is keeping that focus level! I'd love to but really struggle to! I believe my personal restrictions/rules go into effect because I know I'll fail at always keeping correct focus, but my rules always fail. I am unable to keep them perfectly, so this is a flawed circle I'm always running around! Focus on the spiritual will always lead us down the correct path and we will never be fully successfully on this earth, but we will have much more success and much more joy and less falsehood and guilt if we will set our hearts on Christ and on things above, chase after those things, and the rest will follow.
We are chosen and dearly loved and have the permission and capacity to have a strong relationship with our savior Jesus Christ who will lead us down the path of freedom and help us choose correctly when we set our mind on Him and on spiritual things rather than trying to follow man-made rules and regulations that will never win. I am choosing today to set my focus on Him. I know it will take effort to change my habitual thinking, but it is the only way to win the battle and get to path He has for me.