Kate/ April 18, 2018/ Counterfeit Christianity, Legalism, Uncategorized, Why Jesus Hates Religion/ 7 comments

God Wants Our Lips and Our Hearts

This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

Jesus

God looks at the intent of our hearts in our worship, not the style or simply the words we say. He doesn’t delight in a song unless our souls are present, too.

“I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.

Jeremiah 17:10

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Jesus

It is the purity of our hearts – a righteousness which only comes through the blood of Christ and power of the Spirit – not our efforts – which leads us to God.

Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts.
To do righteousness and justice
Is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.

Proverbs 21:2-3

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

1 Timothy 1:3-7

How often has the church tacked on strange doctrines or laws and requirements (supposedly based on the Law) to the simplicity of Christianity – burdening humanity with extra rules that were never meant to be a part of the Christian life?

Religion is an expert at invalidating the completeness of Christ’s sacrifice by convincing Christians that they must continually strive in the flesh in order to please God.

Many religious leaders wish to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are talking about or the meaning of the matters about which they make confident assertions – assertions from which extraneous “commandments”, rules, and burdens emanate.

For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

Paul goes on to say:

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

A “righteous person” is one who has been made righteous through Christ’s righteousness – not based on their own dutiful avoidance of sin.

The Law is not made for a righteous person, but for the unrighteous (for us before we know Christ). It is a tutor, which shows us our need for God.

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Galatians 3:24

The Law is good for teaching us about our sin, and showing us our need for salvation through Christ.

But by faith in Christ we become righteous.

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:17-19

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Romans 8:9-10

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:1-8

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Those who have been made righteous in Christ are no longer under the Law.

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6:14

Paul goes on to write:

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

I’m not making a case here for not caring about sin. If we are truly reborn in Christ, we will come to hate the wickedness of our bodies of death.

But the Law is fulfilled in us when we live in the Spirit of Christ rather than the flesh.

…He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

When we strive to please God through our fleshly efforts to keep the Law – even to follow the words of Christ (e.g. “I’m going to try harder to not covet or hate or lust, or I’m going to work hard to be forgiving or loving because Christ said I won’t be forgiven if I don’t forgive, and he said love is the greatest commandment”), we do not and cannot please Him.

When we strive to keep the precepts of the Law, we walk according to the flesh rather than according to the Spirit. We operate in the Law of sin and death rather than resting in the strength of the Spirit of Christ, who fulfills the Law in us.

When Christ breathed his last breath on the cross, the temple veil was torn in two. God destroyed the physical barriers between us – of flesh or other materials. He came to live inside us. Our relationship with Him is one of the Spirit.

Trust me, I’ve tried the “work hard to be loving/forgiving” or “try hard to change” thing, and I always fail when I’m striving to accomplish that in my own flesh. It’s only when I rest in God, in his Spirit – trusting/”allowing”/asking Him to give me love/forgiveness – or anything else – that I begin to see true change and transformation take place.

Our righteousness does not come from our fleshly striving to keep the Law, but from the work that Christ has already done. We are already righteous because of our connection with Him and His work, not because of our own efforts.

God does not take pleasure in the rules, man-made doctrines, or fleshly works of Man. He looks at the heart. Are our hearts alive in the Spirit? Have we been made righteous within? Even though we live in these bodies of death?

The Lord wants our hearts – not our lip service, striving, or adherence to “correct” man-made theology (strange doctrines). He is not pleased with the appearance of things. The way we do church. The worship style. The processional structure. The temporal and physical elements. Or our meticulous, painstaking efforts to adhere to the Law (in which we are bound to fail).

He looks at the Spirit. Is our sense of righteousness from our confidence in the Spirit? Or confidence in our flesh? The things of the flesh have died in Christ. Any works of the flesh will not be pleasing to him.

He looks at our hearts.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

This is what I mean when I write of the difference between a relationship and a religion.

A religion defines people by their roles, adherence to man-made rules (the precepts of men), and their desire or ability to copy old fruit. It reprints the image of the spiritual fruit of Christ-followers – those living now or from the third or fifteenth centuries – and attempts to make the paper-thin reprint appear as genuine and nourishing as actual, freshly-produced fruit. Of course, it fails miserably, as authentic fruit is something only the Holy Spirit can generate.

Religion calls this reprint – this counterfeit – “worship”.

It deems its members more “worshipful” because:

  • They dress up, and/or dress in the same fashion of those from an era gone by.
  • They act “decent” and appear to have good morals.
  • They pray the “right” prayers, sing the “right” types of songs, and study the philosophies of Augustine.
  • They strive to obey the Ten Commandments.

Appearance. Striving. Works. Lip service. Adherence to tradition for the sake of tradition, or out of a belief that tradition is pleasing or inherently worshipful to God.

Conventionality is not morality. – Charlotte Brontë

A relationship defines people by the One with Whom they’re in a relationship. We are defined purely by the One we worship and know, not the style with which we worship him or meticulous keeping of the old Jewish law.

In our sense of security – from our singular devotion to a specific denomination or to particular Sunday routines – at the expense of relationship with and reliance upon His Spirit who equips us to render to God Spirit-generated worship – we praise Him with our lips, but our hearts are far from him.

This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

If we put a denomination or church processional structure before worshiping God from the heart, we have put a god before him: religion. We have created an idol.

If we think that in the flesh we can please God, we have put a god before him: ourselves, our flesh. We have created an idol.

If we think we are more pleasing to God than other Christians because we “do church the right way” or “worship the right way”, or follow certain precepts of men (such as Augustine or Martin Luther), we have placed many gods before him: our “intellect”, our “wisdom”, our “reasoning“, our pride, and other men.

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart

I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus

– Matt Redman

 


Why Jesus Hates Religion: Part 7 – Spirit and Truth

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Why Jesus Hates Religion: Part 7 – Spirit and Truth – The Bleeding Blogger

  2. Pingback: Why Jesus Hates Religion: Part 8 – Works and the Wisdom of Men Replace the Spirit – The Bleeding Blogger

  3. Pingback: Why Jesus Hates Religion: Part 10 – Futility and Death – The Bleeding Blogger

  4. Pingback: Why Jesus Hates Religion: Part 5 – Religion Doesn’t Really Need God – The Bleeding Blogger

  5. Pingback: Forms of False Christianity: Part 10 – Spiritless Christianity – The Bleeding Blogger

  6. Pingback: Forms of False Christianity: Part 11 – What is True Christianity? – The Bleeding Blogger

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