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BONDAGE OF RELIGION

Updated: Jan 1

Finding Freedom In Worship

I heard a Jewish man say today that he can't wright a check on the Sabbath. I heard a Muslim man say he couldn't touch a dog because then he couldn't pray. The Jewish man to my knowledge is not overly religious, though the Muslim prays the required number of times every day. Then I thought about my own faith and this verse popped into my head. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." My two friends, for friends they are, are both bound by the rules of their religion. I am not restricted in my interaction with my dog. It does not keep me from being able to go to my Heavenly Father in prayer whenever I wish. I do not have a problem writing a check on Saturday or any day of the week. I had to wonder what is so appealing about religion when it puts you in slavery to its many rules.


I have often said that Jesus despised religion. I still believe it is true. Consider that those who were most angry with him all the time were the religious leaders. They were pious and always looking at what He was doing and judging not on whether he was doing good, but whether it was breaking the law. He called them names, and humiliated these religious zealots of that time because they had lost sight of the most important part of the law, the very first commandment. This was to love the Lord with all your heart. This gives us a huge clue that God isn't after religious piety at all! When you love someone with all your heart you have to know who they are. This suggests that all God wants is a close loving relationship.


It isn't the keeping of the Sabbath or any of the other thousands of rules laid out in the law that is important. What is important is that the individual loves God and has a relationship that acknowledges who God is and all He has done for us because He loves us. Having a relationship with God based on love produces obedience and brings peace that nothing else can offer. Praying endless prayers several times a day religiously only makes your knees ache if there is no close relationship with the one to whom you are praying. What difference does it make if you pet a dog before, during or after your prayer? What difference does it make if you write a check to pay a debt on Monday, or if you do it on Saturday?


Religion seems to be man's way to achieve what God says we cannot achieve without faith. It isn't faith that makes you religious, but faith that grows your relationship. There are some even in Christianity that want to put chains on believers. "Don't do this." "Don't do that." Paul addressed this in Romans. He was explaining the difference between being bound under the Law and free under Grace. The law made those who were under it slaves. We can clearly see that by the many conversations Jesus had with the Pharisees. They were enslaved by the thousands of laws, so much so that they were constantly pointing out everyone's failures. It must have been exhausting!

Grace, which is something we don't deserve but God gives us freely, takes away the power of the law and makes us slaves to Righteousness! Paul said "For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?"


It isn't that we have the freedom to sin, but that when we are in a relationship with God that sin will not hold sway over us because we are surrendered to God. God is righteous. There is no sin in Him. So when we are in love with God we will not surrender to sin but to God. It doesn't mean we won't be tempted. It doesn't mean we won't fail. If we are pursuing that relationship then we are not interested in those things. We truly are free to live as God designed.


Sin is a giant trap. Once you start sinning it just keeps sucking you in. But God is faithful to forgive us when we fail. The Bible says so. We don't sin knowing that we can always repent later. It isn't our get out of jail free card. What it tells me is that this relationship is like that of father and child. What father would not forgive their child when they come to confess a wrong they did?


This is love. This is forgiveness. This is freedom from sin, not freedom to commit sin.


Imagine Jesus shaking his head at the Pharisees when they tell him he shouldn't heal a man on the Sabbath. He turns it around on them. "Which of you, if your donkey fell into a well on the Sabbath wouldn't get it out of the well? Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?" Of course it is! Religious fervor blinds to the truth that God is love and all he wants is to be loved by His creation. The entire Bible is nothing but God's love revealed over and over again.


Imagine Jesus just opening His arms and willingly surrendering to death just so he could pay to ransom us from eternal separation from Him. He paid with his life to buy our freedom. Just Imagine how much he loves us. I can't wrap my head around it sometimes. There is nothing to compare it to. Religion is slavery. A relationship with Jesus the creator of the Universe is total freedom.


Mark 12:30 "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment."


1 John 4:19 "We love Him because He first loved us"


1 John 4:8 "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love."


Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."


1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

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