Colossians 2:20-23 (NLT)
20 You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 �Don�t handle! Don�t taste! Don�t touch!�? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person�s evil desires.
The apostle was pointing out rules established by man had no intrinsic worth and corrupted Christian faith. For there were those who tried to follow both Christ and follow Mosaic law thinking they would be wiser in doing so. Following these rituals did nothing more than to hinder their fellowship with Christ and tighten the yoke of sin.
In the film The Shawshank Redemption, Ellis "Red" Redding has spent his prime wasting away in prison because of a reckless act of violence he committed as a teenager. After 40 years of incarceration, Red finally receives his release to enjoy the freedom for which he's longed. However, he can't free himself from the habit of asking for permission each time he wishes to use the men's room. He's become "institutionalized." This newfound life scares him, because he's grown accustomed to the structure behind bars. Imprisonment had become safe for Red. He didn't have to exercise his own decision-making. Someone else did the thinking for him, and now, on the outside, he faces a prospect more daunting and terrifying than incarceration: freedom. Red confesses that he contemplates various ways to break his parole and return to the security of his prison cell. He sums up his dilemma in one line: "It is a terrible thing to live in fear." People caught up in legalism are no different than Red�scared to death of the freedom grace brings. It's much easier to retreat to our cells of dos and don'ts, of black and white categories. But the church should not protect people by erecting legalistic walls. Instead it can release people by equipping them to discern godly choices on their own. [Graham Johnson, Preaching to a Postmodern World: A Guide to Reaching Twenty-First Century Listeners; Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2001]