We Couldn’t Reach God
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.[c]
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Please forgive me, but this week’s blog post is a bit of a rant. Honestly, I felt a righteous indignation recently and I have something to get off my chest…
Last week I shared with a group of women about salvation and Jesus. These ladies are lifelong Catholics. They also happen to be inmates in the prison. You see, the normal group of women (those who know their own hopelessness and long to come to the Lord, and those who have surrendered their lives to Him) were all out working in the field. Those few who remained behind were so secure in religion without transformation that they couldn’t and wouldn’t hear the Good News that Jesus came to set them free. My friend Anna and I both explained to them through Scripture that when they die, God is not going to ask what church they attended, if they took part in confirmation or jumped through any other hoops. There is going to be one question from the Living God on that day- What did you do with my Son Jesus? We explained that we weren’t inviting them to join a denomination (or leave their church necessarily) but to join the family of God by receiving forgiveness for their sins and being put back into right relationship with God. Verse after verse we shared. The truth was plainly laid out before them, but at the end they chose to reject Christ. It broke my heart! How can they blindly follow the words of men and not take heed to the Words of the Almighty God? But I realized that it is only the Holy Spirit who can open their eyes, that I have to pray for them but it was pointless to share any further with them that day. We left and I felt grief over their blindness and stubborn hearts. It made me think of the condition of the world today.
Religion is killing people.
If they think that coming to Christ is just about joining a religion, then we have done a disservice with His message. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! Religion has taught people how to stand, sit, perform rituals and participate in ceremonies. It hasn’t taught men that our good works can’t save us, as His Word so clearly states. It hasn’t taught us that there’s a God who loves us so much that He took our place and endured our punishment until the wrath of God was satisfied. It makes us believe somehow that we can do enough to earn the favor of God; that somehow the stench of our sins will not reach His nostrils and that somehow God must be less than completely Holy to allow us to get in based on the good outweighing the bad. And according to whom, does the good indeed outweigh the bad? And who are we to make God into what we want, to suit our preferences and to allow us to continue in our despicable sins?
There are many different religions deceiving people; but only One true God who desires fellowship with us, who loves us, and who died for us. There’s only one way to Heaven, and it’s not by doing A, B, and C (in that order), hopping on one foot, bowing on the ground certain times of the day, facing a wall, holding beads or becoming friends with cockroaches. It’s by faith in Jesus Christ, repentance of our sins, coming to Him knowing that we have nothing good to offer but believing that He will accept us based on the Good and Complete work of Christ on the Cross. It’s grace through faith in Jesus, all because He loves us enough to make a way back into His Presence. It cost Him everything. Why would He pay that price if we could get back to Him any other way?
We couldn’t reach God, so God reached us.
For us believers, we must be sure to present the Gospel to people accurately and precisely. We must not add our own words, traditions or customs to the Truth of His Word. This world is our mission field, and multitudes are lost and hopeless without Him, trying to perform and wishing for the best.
These supposed people of God (though which “god” is unclear) who have taught bondage to the masses will stand before the Living God and be held accountable for all of that. Let that not be us! Let us have a burning fire within us that people may know Him, be forgiven and experience the freedom that is only found in the mercy and grace of God. Nothing needs to be added to that, and certainly nothing taken away.
For us who have experienced that amazing grace, we are blessed indeed! Let us not keep the blessing to ourselves, but freely share what has been freely given to us.
Religion is Killing People
Keeping them from knowing the Truth
Blinding their hearts and minds
Giving them no reproof
Happily going to Hell
As they dance, they sing, they kneel
They’re pros at customs and traditions
Walking wounded as God stands by to Heal
Always reaching but never grasping
Always running but getting nowhere
Deceiving and being deceived
Their works leave them grasping only air
Religion is killing people
While God longs to set them free
To open their hearts, forgive their sins
Show them who they were created to be.
I would love your thoughts and stories in the comments below! Let’s get this conversation going.