The “spiritual life” is always touted as the one that brings you closer to God. It’s full of ideas that have been developed over the centuries and it includes asceticism (refraining from certain foods or activities), meditation, the seeking of “enlightenment” (or visions or “truths” no one else has thought of) or the adopting of philosophies handed down from the ages.
In and of themselves, perhaps none of these things are harmful. The problem comes when we think any of them will bring us closer to God. Paul uses a variety of terminology in this chapter to refer to them – philosophies, human traditions, basic principles of the world. They result in rules and regulations that make us indentured servants, working off a debt that will never be paid. The very notion that these things can bring one closer to the Almighty is the teaching of demonic beings rather than the Lord’s. Jesus, Paul says, did away with this foolishness and nailed it all to the cross (3:14). Incidently, just here some interpreters see Jesus as nailing the Old Testament to the cross – that “written code with its regulations.” Nothing could be further from the truth. As you move through the product of this “written code,” you will see some Old Testament subjects (like circumcision and the observance of the Sabbath), but you will see other things that have no bearing on the Old Testament (like false humility and the worship of angels). Rather, we should see Paul talking about human ideas and programs designed, in human terms, to provide a relationship with God.
Instead, Paul points to Jesus. HE is the fullness of God in bodily form. In our baptism, our connections with these earthly schemes was cut away and the only thing that counts now is our imitation of the one we’ve been raised with, Jesus.