You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free
Difference between a Relationship with God and a Religious Church Life
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Scripturally obedient disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ probably do not understand how blessed they really are to live spiritually, emotionally, and physically in Christ and under the grace of God, now and forever more!
Religion in all its many forms (Christianity too,) is just the opposite of living in Christ and under His all-sufficient grace: His full, completed atonement for us and in our place. “For God SO loved the whole world, that He gave [freely] His only begotten Son, so that whoever [sincerely and personally] believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life,” (Jn. 3:16; 1:12-13.)
No one asked God to take our place on Golgotha.
No one begged God to give Himself for us to set us free from bondage, lostness, darkness, sin and cursedness, (Eph. 1:7.)
God Himself willingly stepped down from heaven to be born as a mere human being, so that He could atone for everything we are, have done, and need; freely and without any reserve. All we have to do is believe in Him, accept what He has done for us, and follow Him in a relationship of Moral Love, which is “all truth,” because Jesus Himself is The Truth, (Jn. 13:34.)
Thus, anyone that sincerely accepted Jesus’ full atonement in his or her place, without any ritual, form, norm, or human virtue whatsoever, can come “boldly [and freely] to the throne of grace, that he or she may obtain mercy and find grace to help in a time of need,” (Heb. 4:16.)
Sincere children of God in Christ are so totally redeemed through Jesus’ full atonement in their place, they do not have to (and in fact cannot) bring anything to ‘please’ or ‘appease’ God when they come to Him in prayer. God can only be satisfied by looking at the complete atonement of His Son in the place of all humanity, not by anything we have done, or think we can do. Paul warned in Col. 2:8-10, “Beware lest anyone cheats you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the [doctrines and] traditions of men… For in Jesus dwells [present tense] all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, [Father and Holy Spirit dwells in Him.] And you are complete in Him, Who is the Head of all principality and power…”
This does not mean we can continue in sin and self-righteousness after we have personally accepted Christ. It means, we do not have to visit a special place like a temple or church to ‘come to His throne,’ because His throne is not a physical place or object, but a spiritual place in heaven. We do not have to wear special clothes, bring money, good works or anything else. We do not have to say anything in a special way or pray with special words and voice tones, or at a specific time. We do not have to call God by Jewish Names, as His Name, in English, is Jesus, and He understands all languages very well. We do not have to religiously crawl on our knees to His throne and make a show of our submission to Him, [this does not mean we must not bow to Him in reverence and worship and go on our knees as the Holy Spirit leads us,] cut ourselves or scream to get His attention. Hey, we do not even have to be perfect (although we must strive to live holy for He is holy, 1 Pet. 1:13-15,) because His atonement in our place is all that is perfect - while repentance from immorality, (or disobedience to His Moral Law,) is a very important part of our life in Christ, which shows our love for Him.
Jesus’ disciples must solely rely on what He had done for them throughout His life on earth and on Golgotha. Thus, they can simply lift up their hearts, thoughts, and hands to Jesus anywhere, anytime. They can merely surrender their hearts, souls and lives and cry out to Him; speak or whisper His Name, and they are bowing spiritually before His Almighty, Spiritual Throne! And so, they come to God’s throne boldly and freely because they have entered at the Door of absolute Grace, which is not any physical thing but a Real, Ever-living Person, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, (Jn. 10:10.)
There, after entering freely and boldly through the Door of Grace to bow down spiritually at the throne of God, (and of course, our emotional and physical sides are never excluded,) we may speak to Him as our Heavenly Father, our Loving Savior, Redeemer, Comforter, Deliverer, Peace, and Blessing for all eternity, (Gal. 3:10-14.)
Because this humanly incomprehensible freedom, which Christ has bought for us with His own blood, is so utterly complete, humanity usually keeps to the notion that ‘nothing is for free.’ Therefore, they do not believe the Truth of God’s Word, but think they must do something - anything, to earn or buy their needs from God. Sadly, this type of self-reliance is exactly the point where the very dangerous notion of religion and its legalism, (religious ‘good’ works to earn something from God,) were born. Truthfully however, as soon as we reject the fact that Jesus gave us only one commandment, (love in deed and truth,) and begin to erect our own righteousness by trying to ‘earn’ something from Him, we are actually rejecting Jesus and all He has done for us by trying to replace Him with our own human worth, (Gal. 2:21; Gal. 3:10-14, Romans Chapters 2-3, Jn. 13:34-35; Jam. 2: 14-26; Mt. 22:36-40.)
This step to self-reliant legalism is very dangerous because the god of all outward religion and manmade ritual, (church religion especially,) is Satan, and he has never given a single drop of his own blood, or suffered a pang of pain to redeem, save, and bless anyone — not that he has flesh and blood, or that he can save or bless in any way! But even if he could, he would never have given anything of himself. The enemy of Jesus and His entire creation never touches a life with the intention of doing good, although he often pretends to be ‘friendly’ and ‘good.’ All so-called occult ‘healing,’ ‘peace’ and ‘luck’ - (there is no such thing as luck, because it always refers to Lucifer, not to the God of the Bible,) are actually satanic counterfeits of Jesus’ blood-bought redemption, salvation, and blessing. The enemy of all creation is “a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth [light or life] in him, for he is a liar and the father of it,” (Jesus’ own words in Jn. 8:44.) While the Lord Jesus Christ “came that we may have life and that we may have it more abundantly,” the devil is the perpetual “thief, who does not come [to anyone in any way or form] except to steal, kill and destroy,” (Jn. 10:10.)
So, when the disciples of religion, (whether in Christian form, or in any other religion such as Buddhism or Hinduism,) come to the many physical altars of their gods, they must bring their money, incense, rituals, sacraments, repetitive and structured prayers, good works of some kind, and even their blood or the blood of innocent sacrifices, (animal and human,) because it is always about what, and how much their gods can get out of them. Their gods never gave themselves; therefore they never give anything for free. The poor slaves of pagan and Christian religion are not free to simply worship or pray freely to their gods. Burning candles and incense, giving money, or anointing themselves ritually with powders and stuff are some of the basic sacrifices required in all religious rituals, otherwise their gods might strike them dead or curse them if they do not comply with the many complicated rituals and sacraments of their religion.
Legalists always have to pay up front for everything they think they might receive from their gods! There is really, really nothing free about any form of religion! Religion with its chief doctrine legalism is a pitiless pit that slides directly down into chaos and eternal hell.
In part, the following was taken from the free book, Relationship Versus Religion, and was also posted on Facebook:
In case someone says: “Heretics, cultic practises, sects and secret societies do not exist in my church!” In the book Relationship Versus Religion, one discovers how subtly the death of religion was woven into our everyday, ‘spiritual’ lives.
Christians generally underestimate the awesome power that Satan unleashed through religion - Christian religion in particular. Only a few know that many of their most prominent preachers and prophets are actually worshipping the devil in secret societies such as masonry while masquerading as servants of Christ, (2 Ths. 2:7-10; 1 Tim. 3:6-8; 2 Cor. 11:13.)
John Rappoport wrote: “The way of the secret society is a way of life… I use cult and secret societies to mean: Organised [religious] groups that harbour a hidden agenda, whose purpose is to dominate, [use, abuse] and control others… [See Mt. 23:13.] This agenda doesn’t rule out the existence of a merry public face. In fact, a cult may be doing well in one sphere while destroying life and limb on another front. [All] religions are secret societies [or heretic cults. And all secret societies are religions.] They have an agenda, which involves controlling their devotees, all their charity-work notwithstanding. People seek out secret societies and church religion to gain freedom from pain and turmoil. [But mostly they join] because the cult uses techniques like brain-washing and mind-control, [and leads them astray with false promises of great wealth and power.]”
Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ is definitely not a religion.
His followers or sincere disciples are, therefore, not followers of a religion either.
The sincere disciples of Jesus adhere to a Scripturally obedient relationship with the Father through His indwelling Holy Spirit, and their High Priest and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is their reason for declaring Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior — and for doing ‘good’ works to glorify His Holy Name.
CAN THE BODY OF CHRIST BE PART OF ANY RELIGION, CHRISTIAN CHURCH RELIGION INCLUDED?
Let us see what religion, in practice, really means. In the truth of Scriptural context, it is very wrong to call The Way, Truth, Light and Love of God, (the Lord Jesus Christ Himself) and those who belong to Him through the Scriptural rebirth, “a religion.” Jesus never commanded His sincere believers to ‘work’ for Him to ‘earn’ salvation, redemption, and blessing, but to follow and to “worship Him in spirit and in truth,” (Jn. 4:21-24.) On the other hand, all religion is based on legalism, which means to earn, or to ‘learn’ the way to redemption, (spiritual freedom) salvation, and blessing from a god. Legalism is defined as, “Strict adherence to a letter of law” or “the literal interpretation of a rigid religious set of laws, rules or codes,” (Gal. 2:21.) Thus, religion can be anything: Satanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, the sinful love of self and money, etcetera. In fact, anything or anyone we place before the True God of the Bible translates into manmade religion. Therefore, God calls all those things “idolatry,” (loving something more than the true God,) and “witchcraft,” (following our own plans and will or the plans and will of people or a religious institution, instead of obeying the God of the Bible wholeheartedly,) (1 Sam. 15:22.) Religion has to do with everything that seems pious outwardly while it remains devoid of a sincere, obedient, Scriptural relationship with, and moral obedience to the One, True God of the Bible Himself, (1 Jn. 2:4.)
Ž The word ‘religion’ actually means, “an institutionalized or personal human system of beliefs and practices relating to the supernatural.” Or: “A pursuit of interest pursued by personal choice.” In Scriptural context, it means, “turning from God’s truth by either remaining in religion or going back into pagan worship after finding the True God.” Thus, outward religion is Satan’s idolatrous counterfeit of God’s spiritual life, (Jn. 10:10; 1 Cor. 10:7-22.)
Ž The devil is the mastermind of all religion, because he was once a holy angel. He knows how to make lifeless buildings, Christianized pagan ceremonies and learned manmade catechesis (or denominational doctrines and instructions) appear spiritual and godlike, (2 Tim. 3:1-9.) So, even if religion sits under a tree with its clergymen, its devotees will sing the catchphrases of their catechist songs in the same old spiritual lifeless way. They will fall asleep during the sermon not to remember much afterwards. In their hearts they know they are busy with a religious farce, yet they cling to their organisation so that their fellow-believers and religious family members can see how devoted they are to their beliefs. They can only hope that their religion would buy them blessing and eternal life; yet they diligently persevere in their church’s formulas that might lead to redemption and blessing. In their strict religious circles it is the ‘right’ thing to do and everyone expects that they will continue diligently in their inherited religious ways, (1 Jn. 5:13.)
To summarize the death of religion, we can say it is everything we can do that seems ‘good and godly’ outwardly without any change of heart that brings ‘death’ to obedience to the contextual truth of Scripture. Thus, all religion, Christianity too, can conform us to its doctrines and make us church members, but only the Lord Jesus Christ Himself can ‘cut away’ the old hardened, sinful ‘man’ or sinful state/position without God, and, with our consent and obedience to Him Alone, transform our innermost being, (our human spirits,) mind or sinful thoughts, beliefs, and behavior to fit into the truthful context of Scriptural redemption, salvation, and blessing in God, (1 Ths. 5:23; Gal. 3:10-14.)
Ž Christian religion (as all other religion) is always ruled by an outward set of church or temple rules. (I.e., become a church or temple member, attend church or temple diligently, pray ‘two hours’ every day, pay your tithes, give until it hurts, and obey your leaders and all the church or temple rules as if you are obeying God Himself.) On the other hand, a relationship with God in Christ is set in only One Commandment: Obey the Inward, Moral Law of Love by loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul or mind, and strength, and your fellow man as yourself, (Jn. 13:34.)
Most of humanity find it easy to become and remain religious temple and church members because it never requires complete inward renewal and drastic lifestyle changes. Joining and/or remaining in a religion is easy because you can keep all your hatred, sanctimoniousness, covertness, infidelity, adultery, greed, and everything else that contravenes God’s inward Moral Law of Love, as long as you devoutly adhere to your outward religious church or temple structure. In contrast, ‘loving’ God, ourselves and our fellow man as He really commands in His Word, calls for self-sacrifice, a totally renewal of heart or human spirit and mind, and a truly Scriptural lifestyle that proves this Scriptural rebirth from a dead spiritual state of bondage, cursedness and lostness without Jesus into the ‘love’ of God’s entire Scriptural truth, had indeed taken place, (Jn. 1:12-13; 3:3-5; Col. 1:13-14.)
Ž This crucial difference between outward “conformation” to church religion and inward “transformation” by accepting, following, and obeying the Lord Jesus Christ in a constant personal relationship, explains why someone like the fanatical Vlad the Impaler, (on whom the Dracula story was based,) could pray for hours before sunrise to rise from his knees with only one thought in mind. ‘Torture to death as painfully possible, as many as you can, on this new day that the Lord has made. And do it to the glory of His almighty Name, because it will make your enemies fear you greatly and give you victory in war!’ This was nothing less than on mass human sacrifice for Satan! It also explains why John Calvin, father of Calvinism and the Dutch and other Reformed churches, could supposedly defy the entire Roman Catholic Church to found his new Protestant religion — and then burn Miguel Servetus at the stake because he would not conform to the false doctrines that Calvin and the rest of his “reformation” clan inherited from their Mother Church, Roman Catholicism!
RELIGION IS ALWAYS CONTAINED BY THE ‘FORCE FIELD’ OF A SHRINE SUCH AS A CHURCH BUILDING
The package of outward religion is always wrapped in a shrine or temple of some sort; a ‘holy place of worship where God dwells.’ All religion, Christian religion too, is therefore ruled by heretic, cultic entities that always present themselves as do-good angels of light, (2 Cor. 11:4.) Even if religion has its meetings under a tree because it cannot afford a temple or church at that stage, its legalistic structure will remain the same in the minds of its followers and sooner or later, the spirit of religion will again set up itself up in a physical temple or church. Because religion is empty, outward piety ruled by evil spirits, it always infect people during their attendance, with the germs of false doctrine and spiritual death. And so, religion always desires a shrine or ‘holy’ building to house its unscriptural, hierarchical clergy, legalistic doctrines, rituals, pagan-Christianized ceremonies and catechists.
The problem with Christianity is, apart from the Roman Catholic Church, it rarely calls its churches “shrines.” Many believers do not realize that there is actually no difference between a Buddhist shrine and a Christian shrine, which are all revered as “the house of god”. Consequently, most believers are unknowingly trapped in idolatrous ‘houses of god,’ (Jn. 8:31-32; Prov. 27:5-6,) while the God of the Bible does “not dwell in temples made with human hands,” (Acts 7:48; 17:24.) He indwells the sincerely and personally blood-cleansed human hearts or human spirits of all His real disciples as the spiritual temple of the Holy Spirit, (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:18.)
God told His physical, Old Covenant nation, Old Israel, in Jer. 3:14-15, “Return, O backsliding children, for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and bring you to Zion [heaven.] And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge; [Scriptural truth, not the doctrines of men], and understanding [of My will].”
Leaders “according to God’s heart” will always desire to personally grow in His whole truth and they will always be eager to do His entire will, (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1:7-10.) False leaders, on the other hand, will always defend their false doctrines and teach their followers to do the same, (Rom. 1:32.) Such have “exercised their evil ways” to such an extent it seems impossible for them to repent, (2 Pet. 2:1-3,14.)
An example of this temple-dogma worship is an old pastor I once knew, who legalistically enforced the wearing of hats to their meetings, all his ministering life. By some miracle, his religious hierarchy decided that Paul was not speaking of a physical hat in 1 Cor. 11:2-10. Yet, he refused to admit even this ‘slight’ error. His reason? “How can I tell the women that I was lying to them for 40 years? I’ll rather carry on with the lie than to admit I was wrong — and bring dishonour to God.”
Now that’s an oxymoron if there ever was one! God is only “dishonoured” by lies not by truth. Yet, his wife joined in the act by wearing her hat until the day of her death. One can reason that this was not a ‘serious’ deception, since it had nothing to do with their salvation, although the clergy of this church originally viewed it as such. But if religious leaders won’t even admit their so-called ‘insignificant’ fallacies, how will they react to their soul-threatening deceptions? A lie remains a lie. Even half a truth is still a whole lie.
Thus, Jesus warned, “Just a little bit of leaven [or false teaching] leavens [or corrupts] the whole lump of dough [or misleads the whole congregation!]” – 1 Cor. 5:6-7.