22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 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.
"All" refers back to the ordinances of men who taught "Don't handle! Don't taste! Don't touch!" These ordinances had value in keeping the Hebrew people a nation separated for God. However they were not meant to be forever binding. (See Peter's "pigs in a blanket" vision.) What goes into our hearts and minds is of much greater importance than what enters our digestive system. Any nontoxic food simply passes through our system, but what we allow into our thought process and worldview has lasting effects.
There will always be those with the "appearance" of wisdom. Charismatic leaders will gain many followers and seem to be speaking wise truths. Only a careful comparison with Scripture can reveal what is true wisdom and what comes from the commandments and teachings of men.
Those who denied themselves would seem pious and religious. (It reminds me of the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus instructed His listeners to pray, give, and fast in a manner that would not draw attention to their piety.) Today we may look at ascetics in other religion with admiration. We may view a Buddhist monk who lives a life of simple existence as wise and holy, but in the end the beliefs of the monk lead to death and are of no value. We may be impressed with our Muslim friend's fast during Ramadan, but this does not help us walk more closely with God.
No mere outward act, whether self-made religion or even biblical precept, can guard against fleshly indulgence. Anyone who has ever been on a diet can attest to this! That chocolate cake or chips and dip will call your name until you give in - unless you have an inner change in your willpower and values about food. Rules and ordinances have no real spiritual value unless they provoke a change in your heart and soul.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:8