Paul goes on to indicate another false source of power, which also leads many people astray:
So don’t put up with anyone pressuring you in details of diet, worship services, or holy days. All those things are mere shadows cast before what was to come; the substance is Christ!!! Christ is the real thing!!!
Don’t tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape . . . yada, yada, yada . . . they are a lot of hot air, that is all they are. They qre completely out of touch with the source of life, Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us—we grow only as we get our nourishment and strength from God . . . why do you let yourselves be bullied by it?—You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of this world . . .
What false source is this? It is the power that supposedly comes from a dedicated zeal for God. It manifests itself in the keeping certain days and special feasts and regulations, working long hours out of zeal for the cause, avoiding birthday celebrations and weddings—because they are not “holy.” Although I often hang out with Messianic Jews and folks from the “Hebraic Roots” movement, their biggest problem is their insistence on using Hebrew names and celebrating the Hebrew Feasts. Folks, all of these things look like sources of power, and sometimes we admire the zealousness of believers who get themselves all wrapped up in a cause. However, Paul says that they are tricking themselves. They do not discover real power:
These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility, and severe bodily discipline. Sure, these have an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigors of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body . . . In fact, there is a kind of false humility that is produced by this kind of behavior. It extracts a grudging admiration from us, but look what the apostle says:
But they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires . . .
You see, we can do all kinds of “holy” things, and still be filled with lust. We can beat our body black and blue and the whole time still be guilty of thinking lascivious thoughts. Even you preachers can be subjected to this. Picture yourself giving a tremendously anointed message and you come down off the stage and begin to pray for folks . . . suddenly an extremely attractive lady comes for prayer. Then, without even realizing it, you start being attracted to her. Or, a woman is in a troubled marriage and comes to you for counseling . . . hey, these things do happen, and no amount of prayer and Bible Study is going to provide a check on the indulgence of the flesh. There is no power human will-power and commitment that is going provide the power for us to live the kind of life that we are called to live. Nope. Your human power is never going to be sufficient. As Paul says, “They have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires . . .”