Religion is both an attractive and a reprehensible thing. The flesh of human kind is greatly attracted to religion. As a matter of fact, religion is the lowest denominator in life. It is far too easy to drop to the the very base of spirituality and quickly substitute religion for what originally began as a spiritual search.
The Apostle Paul dealt with this tendency when he wrote his letter to the church in Colossae.
Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,
and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
Fraud is a strong charge! Fraud is an outright lie meant to deceive. Being defrauded from a prize means that something of value has been stolen from you.
Paul now seeks to set things straight:
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,
"Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!"
(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)--in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?
These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. Colossians 2:18ff
My frustration continues to grow when I hear Christian teachers drone on and on about the frailties of today's Christians with the heavy message of more and more rule and prescriptions that have "the appearance of wisdom" and exhort people to "turn way" from sin. Paul says all of these messages are of "no value against fleshly indulgence".
The whole Bible is filled with people who have been radically saved by God only to desert Him months or weeks later in their pursuit of fleshly indulgences. It simply was not for lack of instruction, threats or warnings that the people strayed. It was simply because religion just doesn't make any positive difference in a life or in a culture.
Run from these types of teachers. They disguise captivity and frustration in silky words that appeal to the flesh. Self-abasement and severe treatment of the body makes sense to the flesh since it is our fleshly lusts that seem to plague us the most. Paul states, however, the diagnosis may be correct but the prescription delivered by some is bankrupt.
We have been set free for freedoms sake and the more we opt to live in the liberty of Jesus the more we fall i love with Him. The more we fall in love with Him, the less attractive are the things that formerly attracted us in the flesh.