Things Destined to Perish
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
When we put our spiritual hope in things destined to perish – church processions, works in and of the flesh, bread, or water – we build our spiritual security out of rubble. These things will burn.
The elements will melt with intense heat.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
2 Peter 3:10-12
We have died to the elementary principles of the world.
Our self-made religion has the appearance of wisdom. But it is of no value against fleshly indulgence.
Festivals and Sabbath days are but a shadow of what is to come.
Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Knowing the Lord of the Sabbath and being covered in his blood is more important than observing festivals or the Sabbath, just as celebrating with the Bridegroom while he was on earth was more important than fasting [Matt 9:14-17].
Christ wants a relationship with us, not our self-made religion.
He wants our hearts, not our dutiful religious observation of feasts, festivals, and processions.
Religion vs. Relationship
Religion places wisdom and power in the hands of men rather than God.
Religion is about appearance and lip service rather than inward transformation.
Religion is a source of division. Relationship with Christ unites the body. When we’re all worshiping and listening to the same God – and denying ourselves (the gods of our flesh) for the good of the body and honor of Christ – we approach the unity that is pleasing to him.
Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Religion is man’s system. Relationship incorporates us into God’s system.
Religion is man-centered. Relationship is God-centered.
Religion requires us to strive. Relationship requires us to surrender and be still.
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Religion is about trying. Relationship is about trusting.
Religion happens every Sunday (or at certain hours throughout the week). Relationship happens all day, all week. 24/7.
Religion calls prayer a duty. Relationship makes prayer a privilege.
Religion knows about God. Relationship knows God.
Religion tries to reach God intellectually. Relationship knows that God’s intellect and wisdom far surpass ours, and that the only way to reach him is through faith in his wisdom and his power – the wisdom and power of Christ on the cross.
Religion seeks the flesh first (the wisdom and power of Man, works-based salvation, rites) to find the Spirit. A relationship seeks the Spirit of God first, and then finds meaning and holiness in everything else the Spirit touches.
Are You a Christian?
The word “Christian” is highly overused today.
If Christianity is primarily something you do – or you call yourself “Christian” simply because:
- you believe God exists
- you go to church
- you get along with people who go to church
- you are a moral person
…and not something you are because of Jesus’ work on the cross, I am pleading with you to ask yourself if you are truly saved.
Do you know God, or just know about him?
Do you think that you can please him in your wisdom or flesh?
Do you think you have to observe certain practices – readings, prayers, festivals, recitations, church membership, memorization of theological statements of the church, etc. – in order to sufficiently please him? In order to be – or remain – a Christian?
Is your standing with God reliant upon things destined to perish with use? Or does your salvation depend only upon Christ’s blood?
Are You a Good Person?
Many good people will go to hell.
We all fall short of God’s standard. None of us can please him, no matter how hard we try.
because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
as it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
None of us are “good people”.
Not sure you agree? Wanna take a test? 🙂
We’ll go through some of the Ten Commandments.
Good Person Test
Q #1: Have you ever taken God’s name in vain (cursed using the name of God/Jesus?).
Q #2: Have you ever murdered someone? Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. – 1 John 3:15
Q #3: Have you ever committed adultery?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Q #4: Ever stolen anything?
Q #5: Ever coveted something – or someone – that belonged to someone else?
Q #6: Ever started or spread lies about someone?
If you’ve said “yes” to any of these things, then by your own admission, you’re a lying, thieving, envious/discontent, and/or profane murderer/adulterer at heart.
The whole point of this is NOT to tell you to just try harder to keep the Ten Commandments, but to show that it is impossible for us to please God. God’s standard is one of perfection.
The Law is a teacher. It shows us our need for Christ.
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Apart from the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, we stand condemned before God, who is the epitome of holiness and justice.
Christianity is not about being “good enough” or trying hard to do lots of nice stuff and be a “better” or more religious person. It’s NOT about trying harder to be moral.
We can’t possibly ever meet God’s righteous standard through our own efforts, because he is a perfect God and a good judge, and we’ve already fallen short of his standards.
A good judge ensures that justice is served.
Sin has a price. There must be a payment.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We need a Savior who can pay for our sins. We need someone to pay our debt.
We must be joined with Christ, the One who is perfect and whose sacrifice on our behalf was pleasing to God. (As payment for sin, God required the blood of an offering without blemish. Christ was the perfect, spotless, eternal lamb and sacrifice. As the Son of God, he never sinned, even though he was tempted.)
What to Do
Seek his face while you can.
Cry out to God.
Accept God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
A lot of religious people observe festivals or Sabbath days, but these things are meaningless, especially without a true relationship with Christ.
Unless we are joined with him, festivals and Sabbath days are utterly worthless. With him, they can be beautiful reminders of what our Lord has done, and opportunities to celebrate with other believers, but they are NOT good works which will get us into heaven.
Christ alone does that. His work alone will reunite us with God.
Ask him to give you new life.
Ask him to give you the vision of his Spirit.
Ask him to help you recognize his voice.
Perhaps, in reading through this series, you’ve begun to wonder if you are truly saved.
It’s never too late to begin a true relationship with Christ…until it’s too late. Until the lamp of this life goes out, and your choice is made final.
Many people think they are going to heaven, but they don’t know Christ, and Christ doesn’t know them.
Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Perhaps you do have a relationship with Jesus, but you’ve been quenching the Spirit and living for the comfort of your own flesh instead of surrendering to the Spirit of God, listening for his voice, and letting him do his work. You’ve made religion, intellectualism, or personal comfort an idol. You’ve looked to other sources – elemental and elementary things of this life – for significance, security, and sufficiency.
Ask his Spirit to take over. Ask him to put to death the desires of the flesh in you. He will answer.
Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-24
Trying to Substitute for Something That’s Missing
Religion is death disguised as life.
It’s an attempt at manufacturing – or substituting for – the real deal.
We often don’t recognize the beauty of Christ – living within us, within others. We don’t see ourselves as the temple. So we compensate with religion – by decorating ourselves externally and decorating church buildings.
We don’t have the Word dwelling within our minds and souls, so we enshrine as doctrine words others have spoken about the Word.
We look to spiritual leaders, theologians, or parents to make us feel religious or spiritually covered, because we don’t know what it is to authentically interact with the High Priest – Jesus. We don’t have a personal relationship with him.
This is not to say that church decorations, nice clothing, or the guidance and wisdom of other Christians are inherently bad things.
But when we seek them before we talk heart-to-heart with Christ – before we sit before the Lord and listen to him – before we seek to behold the beauty of the Lord and soak in his presence – we are seeking poor substitutes for the thing we are truly missing and craving: true fellowship with the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Because Christ is beautiful, Christ is The Word, and Christ is our wise High Priest and Counselor.
Religion tries to copy those qualities.
A relationship gives you a direct line to them, and puts those qualities inside you – Beauty, The Word, and Wisdom – because the beautiful and wise Word comes to live within you.
Ask Christ to lead you where he wants you to go in life. It will likely be a path that reaches beyond your current understanding, knowledge, or comfort level.
He may take you on steep and narrow roads, and into valleys alone (except he’ll be there with you).
He may lead you out of comfortable tradition.
He may ask you to be “radical” for him.
He may take you down some paths which pull you further away from family and friends, but into a sweeter, richer fellowship with him.
He will lead you in the path of the Spirit.
The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
That may sound unpredictable and scary, but any cost is worth it.
And the alternative path of the flesh – living for the approval of men or striving for the approval of God – is not.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.