This was taken my friend's blog! It is very timely and well written! Enjoy!
I HATE RELIGION
Hate Religion? You may say that it is not right to hate. To this I would simply ask if is it not right to have the heart of Christ? Should we not love what he loves and hate what he hates? For this reason, I'd like to share why I think God hates religion.
Religion may be one of the main causes of sending people to hell, or hindering people from living truly godly lives. Listening to JR during prayer service last Sunday and listening to an old sermon by Dave Stoltzfus have led me to look deeper into this topic of "religion".
Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:20, "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." As JR explained, the scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of their time. They were conservative, orthodox, pious, law-abiding, etc. These groups fasted, prayed, read, went to church, sacrificed, circumcised, tithed 30% of their income, were responsible for copying the holy scriptures, etc. The scribes and the Pharisees lived their life by the law. But where is God in the law?
The law was never meant to save, the law was meant to show us OUR SIN. THAT WAS THE PROBLEM. They were self-righteous, putting their hope and faith in their ability to carry out the law in their flesh. God went further with them though. He pushed through their hypocrisy and went after the motive of their hearts. He exposed their "religion" by showing them how corrupt and evil their hearts were. He did this by going straight down the list of the laws ... saying that the law says do not murder, but if you hate your brother you have committed murder in your heart .... or the law says do not commit adultery, but if you look upon a woman with lust you have already committed adultery in your heart ... and he goes on. We should not exalt ourself in our ability to keep the commandments of Christ. We should not boast in our daily devotion and how we pray 3 times a day and fast more than anyone else. It is only by the grace of God that we are even saved from our own sin. We are powerless on our own. We have no ability or power outside of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We are weak, and He is strong.
Where is justice in the law? Where is mercy in the law? Where is faithfulness in the law? In Matthew 23:23 God calls these things the weightier provisions of the law. We should live out justice, mercy, faithfulness, grace, and righteousness as Christians and in doing so the duties of the law will not be neglected either. For we are not to neglect prayer, reading the word, and tithing, and God's commandment's ... but they are not to be our hope or the focus of our religion.
Dave Stoltzfus in his sermon used Colossians 2:6-9, "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one take you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according the to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Diety dwells in bodily form." You can see that these verses focus on walking IN CHRIST and being rooted built up IN HIM. These verses also warn us not to be taken captive and to guard against being deceived.
How does this happen? We forget Christ and we go through RELIGION - empty deception, philosophy, and traditions of men. WE CAN NOT GET CAUGHT UP IN RELIGION. Religious traditions and the law keep us from getting to God's grace. It is by grace we are saved through faith! Praying, tithing, fasting, reading the bible, attending every church meeting and activity, giving to the poor, taking communion, keeping the ten commandments, and any other thing can not earn us righteousness! Our righteousness is through Christ!
If you look at Matthew 23:15 it says, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around the sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." This is why in the opening of my blog I said that RELIGION may be one of the main causes of sending people to hell, or hindering people from living truly godly lives. Because when religious people "share their faith" with sinners, they change them from a non-believer into a false christian. Religion witho uth Christ is counter-productive and gives false hope and empty deception. Sinners who enter into these traditions of men and religious practices find no freedom and find no salvation! All they find is more condemnation but they are too blind to see! We need to get rid of empty RELIGION and simply preach CHRIST!
How easy is it to look at the scribes and Pharisees and point out their faults, but what about me? What is in my heart? Sure, I can condemn the life of the Pharisee ..... but would someone looking at me consider me a Pharisee? Do I try to appear righteous before my fellow Christians and win the approval of men? Do I neglect prayer during the week and then pray loud in church so people can hear and know I am praying? Do I ignore what God is telling me to do in my life, but then point out everyone else's shortcomings? Do I point out everyone else's faults and confront them without ever offering a prayer for them? Do I offer others godly advice that I don't even follow myself? Do I just read and pray out of duty or because I want to grow in Christ? Do I get lost in keeping a checklist of do's and dont's instead of having a relationship with God?
God forgive me and change my heart. As Keith Green's song lyrics say, "I want to, I need to be more like Jesus!"
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