20 “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of man? 23 These are matters which do have the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and humility and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
Paul is rebuking law-based religion. The only thing that creates true and lasting change is the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel changes us internally. Religious rules try to change us externally but ultimately, they fail to restrain sin and curb fleshly indulgence. Paul wants us to live from God without religion. This is the only message that can get us stable and secure spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Christ is the only person who can deliver us from sin. Rule-based religion, whether it’s based on the law or new spiritual rules such as “thou shalt read the Bible,” will never cause believers to experience true change and growth.