23 Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body – a wisdom with no true value – they in reality result in fleshly indulgence.
Even though they have the appearance of wisdom – meaning the false teachers appear to be wise or have a reputation for wisdom because their practices seem right, wise, and religious to our natural desire to earn our own justification.
with their self-imposed worship – meaning the false teachers create ways of worshipping God that God himself never commanded.
and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body – meaning they have false humility because instead of humbling themselves to trust in Christ alone they are instead adding intense ascetic works that look humble to others but are really prideful against Christ’s work on their behalf.
a wisdom with no true value – meaning even though man’s religion looks wise, holy, and appealing, but in truth, there is no true value in it. In some other English translations, this phrase is combined with the following phrase.
they in reality result in fleshly indulgence – commentaries agree that this is a difficult phrase and has possibly three meanings. 1) the rules and asceticism they created to achieve justification and increase holiness is ineffective to keep them from fleshly indulgence; 2) their ascetic practices cause them to sin even more because of their severe self denial; or 3) their ascetic practices cause them to be puffed up with pride as they show off their religion to others and feel justified before God because of all the sacrifices they are making.
Listening Prayer method – a method where you write what you think God would say to you after meditating and studying a Bible passage.
Are We Trusting God’s Way or Man’s Way?
Don’t be deceived by man made religion! Man will create religious systems that look wise and holy. They will create lots of rules and ceremonies that seem holy, but instead they are really prideful because they are feeding their own corrupt ideas regarding their justification. They will create abstinences, penance formulas, chants, rituals, repetitive prayers, incense, mood lighting, statues, icons, elaborate worship centers, and spectacular cathedrals all to give the appearance of godliness. Yet, these things are not effective for their justification. I alone, the perfect righteous One, purchased justification by My death on the cross! Be humble by receiving My grace alone through My death alone by faith alone for My glory alone!