SHADOWS AND SUBSTANCE

Scripture Reading: Colossians 2:16-20

“These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:17)

In Paul’s day, some false teachers came to the early Gentile converts telling them that they must add to their faith certain practices of the Old Testament, such as the food laws and other ceremonies that were observed under the old covenant. Paul was addressing this erroneous teaching — “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” (v. 16).

The Old Testament observances pointed to a future reality that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Thus, Paul is saying that we are no longer under the old covenant rules but now we live in light of the new covenant. We are, therefore, no longer obligated to observe the food laws, special days and prescribed festivals as they were observed in the Old Testament.

We must remember that the Old Testament sacrificial system, food laws, special days and observances all pointed to the coming of the Messiah. Jesus is the Messiah who came and fulfilled these things. They were mere shadows, for He is the true substance. Therefore, we must never substitute any religious traditions or practices for faith alone in Jesus Christ. He is the substance of our faith.

Lord Jesus, You are the fulfillment of all the Old Testament shadows. Guard my heart from substituting other traditions and practices for faith in You. I know that I am saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in You alone.

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