Colossians 2:20-23 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 fleshy indulgence.
Commentary: We cannot reach up to God by following rules of self-denial, by observing rituals, or by practicing religion. Paul isn't saying all rules are bad. But no keeping of laws or rules will earn salvation. The Good News is that God reaches down to human beings, and He asks for our response. Self-made religions focus on human effort; Christianity focuses on Christ's work. Believers must put aside sinful desires, by doing so is the by-product of our new life in Christ, not the reason for our new life. Our salvation does not depend on our own discipline and rule-keeping, but on the power of Christ's death and resurrection.
Salvation by self-effort is something that I fell to for many years. I wanted to work so hard for God that He would be happy with me and not focus on all the bad in my life. One day, God opened my heart to the fact that He loves me. His love for me and you will never change. He cannot love us more or less than He already does. I desire now, to live my life for Him because of my thankfulness for all He has done - especially my salvation through Jesus.