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Read Introduction to Colossians


“which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men?“


“which all concern things which perish “

“Which”–the three taboos of verse 21.

The word “perish” here means to destroy, to perish, a state of ruin or destruction, with the implication of disintegration. We can translate this phrase, “which all concern things which are for perishing.” They are transitory, not eternal. Taboos fail in their purpose. They do not restrain evil.

“with the using”

The word “using” signifies misuse, the activity of using up something–being consumed, consumption. We may render the clause “by their using up.” When we exercise taboos, we render them unfit for further use. These man-made regulations perish because they have no intrinsic worth in themselves. Those who use them witness them perish and pass away. They corrupt the Christian faith. They have no authority other than the injunctions of men.

“–according to the commandments and doctrines of men?”

“Doctrines” means the content of teaching–what is taught, doctrine, teaching. Taboos come from men, not God. The only authority for taboos is human.

Jesus challenged the Pharisees, “You observe these minute rituals, but inwardly you are tombs, filled with dead men’s bones.” You look great as you perform your ceremonies, but inwardly you are like a grave full of rotting bones.


Over-regulation intensifies evil.


Human doctrine perishes with use. Holiness by self-effort is human doctrine. This is wrong in principle and unproductive in results. When we observe the taboos of men, we correlate our lives with temporal things. Temporary doctrines of men have little effect on spiritual things. It is a waste of time and a waste of our lives. The Bible emphasizes eternal things. In eternity human taboos will end in destruction.

Undue repression leads to violent eruptions. If we repress evil, it will explode in our lives at some later point. The answer is not repression but living our lives around a person.

Taboos are futile. We can consume our lives with rules and regulations and have nothing to show for it at the end of our day.