Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Religiousness Without God

The English word for religion was derived from the Latin word "religon," meaning “bind up.” Now, the BIG question here is, "Does God REALLY want His children bound rules? Regulations? And ritualistic patterns?" The answer to that is a resounding NO! What He DOES want from His children is a pure and simple relationship!

Christianity was never meant to be a religion. Men turned it into that though. It was meant to be this incredible relationship: a spiritual life that is the result of the risen Christ living in the hearts of His people! Transforming them into the likeness of Himself. Amazing! That’s why people will often hear Christ believers saying things like, “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.” I have said this myself many times over because it's true. It isn't a religion, it IS a relationship. Just a reminder to all who read this....Jesus Christ was sent to die on the cross for ALL of our sins because God loved the WHOLE world that much to give His ONLY begotten Son to shed His blood for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US! For every man, woman, child from every tongue and nation. There is only ONE way and that's to believe on the virgin birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to repent of your sins, ask for His forgiveness and ask Jesus into your heart to reside there forever! John 3:16 is a Scripture given to the whole WORLD......"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

God doesn't want us to be bound in chains, repetitively going through the "motions" and putting on a "show" of how well we are living our lives. Jesus said in Mark 10:18, "So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God." Sounds pretty clear to me that there is NOTHING we can do as a mortal human being to be considered "good" and "worthy" in the eyes of God ON OUR OWN and WITHOUT HIM! God sent His Son to FREE us from the bondage of sin. Religion, the kind that leads to bondage, has a horrific byproduct as well. This side-effect can be absolutely devastating to the children of God. It’s called legalism. Legalism is the dangerous belief that a person can, by his or her own efforts, do something to obtain or retain his or her salvation. And do not believe this devilish lie because nobody, and I mean nobody, can obtain OR retain their salvation through their own efforts. How can I be so confident in knowing this fact? Because the Bible tells me so! First in John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man come unto the Father but by me." Good works can't do the job either! That's made clear in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." And in Acts 4:12 it's said this way, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

He forbids us to put any other "gods" before Him because He is the One, True and Living God! Isaiah 42:8 Jesus said, "I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols." As part of the 10 Commandments, in Exodus 20:2-6 God spoke these words, "(v2) “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (v3) “You shall have no other gods before Me. (v4) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; (v5) you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (v6) but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments...." So you see, God wants us to know that He is the LIVING God, know that He is not to be mocked or be less than first in our lives! In order to accomplish that, we need to have a relationship with Him, to know who He IS, to talk to Him, walk with Him and be with Him! You can't do those things with idols, with carved images or dead "gods" that man create to worship. All of that is empty. I don't know about you, but I want to worship, talk to, love, trust, have faith and believe in someone that is REAL and ALIVE! Someone who created everything I see, and those things I cannot see. Someone who called my name, to draw me near to Him so I could have this relationship with Him and someone who promised never to leave me nor forsake me!

God is in Control of ALL things
God is THE God. He is not "a" "god" with a little g. He is the ONLY God. Now there are MANY different religions out there, many different denominations but there is only ONE WAY. God knows about each and every religion out there, created by man for man. There are many things God hates about legalistic religions, the rituals performed, the many "gods" produced through many of those sects and the idol worship. He hates the SIN of disobeying and turning from Him but He does NOT hate the sinner! He loves us more than you or I can ever wrap our small minds around, so much so that He made loving Him, following Him and knowing Him very easy....He didn't make it complicated for us. He gave each of us a CHOICE to either believe or turn from Him and His Son. He gave us His Son to die upon the cross, to shed His blood to wash away our sins and by Grace and His Mercy we are called His Beloved! We make it harder than it actually is because we are sinners after all and we have this need to be wise beyond our capabilities. We DON'T have all the answers because we aren't God! We think our ability to function on this earth gives us many rights to understanding things we could NEVER grasp! God knew that too which is why He made it so simple for us to come to Him and have eternal life with's not His fault humans can't seem to believe there aren't more strings "attached" to salvation and find it hard to believe that it is truly His Grace!

So yes, there are many "religious" people out there, masquerading around as Christians without God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! They get caught up in the functions of being a Christian. The rituals of going to church and the show of how much good works they do that they really don't know Jesus personally! They sin the same. They hurt the same. They feel all of the emotions the same. They fail the same. The one thing they don't do the same is walk with Jesus close enough to know He is always there! To have a relationship with Him is to hear His voice, to feel His hand guiding you, to feel His arms around you when you're scared and to feel His unconditional Love at all times, even when you get mad at Him because He didn't do something you asked Him to do! I think all Christians, at one point in their walk, get tangled up in the "show" but they don't stay there. They mature and as they grow in the Lord and begin to have that relationship, they begin to see all there is to see....GOD! Religiousness without God is terribly empty though because no matter how hard one tries to be good, do good and act good, or talk the "religious" talk, the bottom line is they are still sinners that needs a Savior. That need to be covered in the Blood of Jesus Christ. They are still in need of the relationship that God longs for us to have with Him. It's impossible to please God without faith, as it is stated in Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Faith is not a "religion" but it IS embracing the TRUTH!

Many people who have religiousness without God is missing the wholeness of being a Christ believing Christian. It's way too tiring to "perform" all of those rituals, staying within the symbolic lines, and trying to outshine those around you, only to find at the end of the day, when you've totally been exhausted, that you don't have anything REAL to believe in! Faith is believing in what is true. Faith has two elements: 1) being convinced of the truth, being certain of reality, having evidence of unseen things, and 2) believing, hoping in, embracing, seizing the truth! Hebrews 11:1 is one of my favorite verses because it's the perfect description of Faith that God has for us, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith is the state of being convinced about what we hope for. How do we get Faith? The Bible has THAT answer too! Romans 10:17, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." It's possible to have a religion without knowing God because people do it every day. But deep inside, as God said He did, there is His stamp on every heart to know that He is REAL! It's an individuals choice to turn from that knowledge and deny Him, or take up their cross and follow Him. Although I don't know why anyone would want to spend eternity in the lake of fire with Satan and all of his demons! Being without God is meaningless...powerless....and shallow. God didn't create us to be empty inside! And many don't have a relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit because they have been deceived. Matthew 24:4-5 warns of this, "(v4) And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. (v5) For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many."  

A misunderstanding about all it takes to get to Heaven is being religious and doing good is the fact that we all can do good things, we all can speak nice words, and we all can act good. This is one of Satan's lies is to make millions of people believe ALL roads lead to God when it's clearly written there is only ONE! The very PROOF of the existence of God is the FACT that we have an inherent DESIRE IN OUR HEARTS TO SEEK HIM AND THAT WE HAVE FOUND HIM! That voice isn't the voice of a carved image on a mantel, nor is it from a dead human being idol warrior. It is from our CREATOR. He put His stamp on our hearts so we would know Him and seek Him out! Many of us do and we FIND Him waiting with open arms! Most importantly, that when we heard His voice, and felt Him knocking on our door, that we would not mistake Him for any other "god."  Some hear the voice but confuse it with legalistic mumbo jumbo. And others still culturally take the road that has been paved before them generations ago as part of doing what those before them did ritualistically. Even they hear the voice...and one day, they will make the choice to seek His face! In this generation of "me" and the New Age movement, one must not forget who created the entire universe! The Bible is full of His love, promises and TRUTH! It's full of all the answers that you are seeking and there are no questions that God won't answer for you! Seek and ye shall find.....

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