For no person will be justified (made righteous, acquitted, and judged acceptable) in His sight by observing the works prescribed by the Law. Romans 3:20
Reading an excerpt from Joyce Meyer in her book prompted me to write this article.
“Jesus had much to say about religion, and none of it was good. Why? Because religion in His day was, and often still is, man’s idea of what God expects. Religion is man trying to reach God through His own good works.” The Power of Being Thankful, Joyce Meyer 2014
Our English word religion comes from the Latin word religio, meaning taboo or restraint. It bespeaks of a system of faith and worship with all its dos and don’ts exercised by the will of man to gain favor with God. The Greek word is threshia, meaning outward ceremonial observances. Religion can be and may well be, the greatest enemy of the Spirit, for it was religious belief after all that crucified Jesus. It was religious belief that hindered the entry of men into the Kingdom of God. It is still the hindrance of these things today. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned and desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ (Matthew 23:37) We are justified by God by faith, not works. We can never earn the favor of God through any religious ritual concocted by man. Christians this article is for you. When you read the Bible where have you ever seen Jesus angry? Only once and that is when he addressed the religious order of His day. Who do you think the Pharisees and Sadducees were? The religious order! Jesus called them vipers, sepulchers and so on. He had nothing nice to say about the order. When I speak of the ‘order’ I am not referring The Church as is spoken by the Apostles in the New Testament. For the Church is a living entity and not a building, ritual and creeds of men. It is the purpose of sending Jesus the He may present a people unto God, holy before Him. People that truly love Him and will stand on His Word and not the doctrines of human standards.
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all that they tell, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens [hard to carry] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not life a finger to move them. ALL their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:1-12)
Jesus always showed compassion and love for the people, even the Roman guards, but he did not tolerate the practices and rituals of the religious order of His day. He knew that its ways kept the people from knowing and worshipping God in the manner God intended. He did not have a religious relationship with Abraham, Moses, David and so on. There were spiritual encounters that not only changed their minds and hearts but enabled God to move by their faith in Him to the point of opening a body of water for their release from slavery. Jesus words to the order was “Woe to you, hypocrites, blind guides…”. You can read this in Matthew 23:13-36. It’s a long read but if you have any desire to truly walk with God and have relationship you would take the time to read it. Not only will it open your eyes to the truth of the bondage of the system, but it will set you free. Religion is not the problem its man and their puny constricted ways that stifle the walk of God’s people.
So, we talked about religion, now let’s delve into relationship. With any relationship it takes time and effort with both parties to make it effective. But with God its different because He is not like a man, he is not human, fleshly, earthly. He is Spirit and sovereign. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, so He must by His spirit bring us into position to receive from Him. To be able to step into His presence and live. That way has been made through Jesus Christ. Jesus never pointed to Himself, he always made it his aim to point to the Father (God). The reason why so many Christians are defeated is because they truly do not KNOW God! They rely on religious rituals to bring them closer to God. They accept Jesus, they even have relationship with Him; but they never come to KNOW the Father. It’s the Father who sent Jesus, it’s the Father that was in relationship throughout history with His people. To have an intimate relationship with Father we must go through Jesus who is the One who truly knows Him, but we mustn’t stop there. Jesus wants that for all His people. It doesn’t dishonor Him for us to come to this place in our spiritual walk. It honors and glorifies Him! For then He has completed His good work in you. So, start anew today, and come to God in a fresh new way. desiring to know Him in all His ways and watch how you will change; and then that change will alter the world around you! Peace be unto you!