- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about religion?
When we allow man’s ideas of religion to turn us away from God’s will for our lives, we will have life in this world only, Matt 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Following the Spirit leads to eternal life, Rom 8:13-14, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” When we set up our own rituals and worship them rather than God, we are left with burnt offerings and the symbols of religion, Mic 6:6-8, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” God does not want our offerings, He is asking us to respond to His love by walking humbly with Him and passing His love on to everyone we meet, Jn 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” When we respond this way, others will see His love and be drawn to it.
Jam 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” God is telling us that true religion requires action. The gospel is only understood when we apply it to our daily lives. This is when it comes to life and changes us from within. God is telling us it is more than a mental exercise, Is 29:13, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” Going to church once a week and living the rest of our lives reconciled to this world is not pure religion. God wants us to take His love to the rest of the world, so others might see His light shining through us and find their way to God, Matt 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Of course, our walk will be easier if we have a church family supporting us, Eccl 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
1 Tim 2:1-4, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Is God saying that this is the beginning of the process of fulfillment of the great commission? Are we to first pray for those in power, giving thanks for all we have and then to obey all laws, which will lead us to a more peaceful life? Would all the discord and stress caused by our fruitless ranting about politics dissipate? Would we then draw closer to each other? Is not the real purpose of religion to lead us to God and to help others find their path to God? Will other people be drawn to those they see living a peaceful life, or one in distress? Would a peaceful life not a better life?
Heb 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” When we truly believe in our hearts, not just with our lips, we seek the path to God and His righteousness, Matt 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” God knows we must seek righteousness to stand against the devil, Eph 6:11, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” God wants us to know the devil will use our lack of faith to lead us away from God, Gen 3:4-5, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” God keeps telling us, when we seek His righteousness He will light our path, Ps 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” and His path will lead us to His peace and joy, Rom 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Pure religion should lead us to righteousness, peace, and joy. If it does not, then it is not from God. Our peace should extend beyond our weekly visit to a church; it must be the way we live every day. Otherwise, we become the hypocrites who turn others away from God, instead of toward Him, for they will not see God’s light reflected in our lives.
Jn 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” God is telling us that other ways might have good teaching within them, but they will not lead us to Him. God came to earth to tell us His way is the only way to righteousness. Why else would He leave the glory of heaven to live the humble life of a servant, which brought us salvation on the cross? God did not come to earth to declare His plan by any other religion. He does not want us stumbling around looking for our own made up religion, He wants us to know how to live the righteous life, which leads to Him, 2 Tim 3:16:17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” This is the reason He has given us His Word, the Bible, protected it for centuries, and as proof of its truthfulness made it the most popular book in human history. We have no excuse for not reading it and no excuse for not reasoning with Him on the issues we do not understand.
Col 2:6-8, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Can man create a religion better than the one God has offered to all of us?
Eccl 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Is this the message Jesus came to affirm? Matt 25:34-36, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” When we love as God does, it shows in everything we do, Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” The fruit of the Spirit leads us to heaven, in this life and the next. This is the religion Jesus came to give us. Hopefully, we are finding it in the churches we attend.
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