Paul writes to the Colossians that traditions have "an appearance of wisdom" (2:23). Indeed, they have. Good order is very fitting in the Church, and is for this reason necessary. Human reason, because it does not understand the righteousness of faith, naturally imagines that such works justify people because they reconcile God. Common people thought this, and among us ceremonies have grown in the monasteries. Human reason thinks bodily exercises, such as fasts, are services that justify. The look of wisdom and righteousness in such works tricks people. When people want to imitate the saints, they imitate, for the most part, the outward exercises. They do not imitate their faith.
After this look of wisdom and righteousness has deceived people, then countless evils follow. The Gospel about the righteousness of faith in Christ is clouded over, and empty confidence in such works succeeds. Then God's commandments are clouded over. These human works are preferred more than the works of God's commandments (one's own calling, management of a family, married life, and bringing up of children). Compared with those ceremonies, the latter are judged to be ungodly, so that they are exercised by many with doubting consciences. For it is known that many have left married life to welcome these human ceremonies as better and holier. (paragraphs 22-26)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.