I expect that most of you, if not all, have had a challenging -- yet wonderful work week. There have been numerous oppositions: evil reports near and far. Nevertheless, we have peace and joy!! --characteristics of the Kingdom.
A pastor asked me for a response on religion so I sought the Lord. Below is my reply:
Religion is a belief system, attitudes, and practices. It's not a bad word. Everybody is religious. Unfortunately, being religious does not save you any more than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger. If that were the case then all would be automatically saved -- no matter what their persuasion. Ephesians 2:8 & 9 tells us, "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God -- Not of works, lest any man should boast." The outward observances of rituals, minus a relationship with Jesus, are just works. The Bible says in Isaiah 64:6 that our own (works of) righteousness is as filthy rags.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Religious minds think they are saved by their good works or vain antics (i.e. pushing a bean around a sanctuary with their nose for the forgiveness of sins). We are saved by the good work that Jesus accomplished at Calvary -- period! Our good works are confirmations of our belief in the sacrifice that Jesus made.
Religion attempts to approach God other than by going through Jesus. In John 14:6 Jesus said, "I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE; NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER, BUT BY ME." He's the door.
I was very religious until I was seventeen years old -- yet on my way to hell. Morally good, but still on my way to hell because my belief system was vain and powerless.
Pure religion (Greek - ceremonious in worship) and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
I only found seven scriptures pertaining to religion/religious and 369 to the Kingdom. The emphasis is on the kingdom.
I've studied that religion started with Cain and Abel and thought so for years. However, the Lord revealed this truth to me: Lucifer was the first being practicing religion and it got him kicked out of heaven. Hmm!
In Genesis chapter 3, Adam and Eve were practicing religion in the garden of Eden. It got them kicked out of the garden. God said, there's only one tree (in the middle of the garden) that you are forbidden to eat from. But Eve (Mother of all living) ironically became mother of all dying, because she 'SAW' the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise... vs. 6 What took place here is what I John 2:16 declares, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." Religion is us doing things our way rather than God's way. And the moral of this story is -- religion gets you kicked out of the garden of pleasure and leaves you naked and without a covering.
We see another prime example of religion at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:6-9. Man endeavored to reach God in his own way. Babel means confusion. Their language became as one babbling. Verse 8 SO THE LORD SCATTERED THEM ABROAD FROM THE FACE OF ALL THE EARTH: AND THEY CEASED BUILDING THE CITY. Religion scatters, confuses, causes discord, disunity...
Religion is from that perverted, lo-down, stinking scoundrel of a devil. (I love to slam his name.) It is Satan's counterfeit for Kingdom principles. Like pride, it originated with him. Satan loves for us to be religious. He doesn't even care if we go to church. He'll even go with us - uninvited. He's only threatened when we start learning who we are in the Kingdom and begin taking up our positions.
Where is the Kingdom? Luke 17:20, "AND WHEN HE WAS DEMANDED OF THE PHARISEES, WHEN THE KINGDOM OF GOD SHOULD COME, HE ANSWERED THEM AND SAID, THE KINGDOM OF GOD COMETH NOT WITH OBSERVATION. VS 21 NEITHER SHALL THEY SAY, LO HERE! THERE! FOR, BEHOLD THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS IN YOU." The Pharisees were looking for the Kingdom in its outward form. (2 Samuel 7:16) The revelation is this .... religious minded people see with the natural eyes (outward form).
Jesus certainly was not saying that his Kingdom was in the Pharisees. The Greek word is entos, meaning in the midst. The Kingdom of God was in the midst of the Pharisees in the persons of Jesus and in the disciples. The Kingdom is not with outward show (at this time) but in the hearts of men (male and female).
Luke 11:20, "BUT IF I, WITH THE FINGER OF GOD, CAST OUT DEMONS, NO DOUBT THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS COME UPON YOU." The Kingdom is established in us by power and authority given to us by Jesus -- the keys of the kingdom.
May God continue to shine upon each of you. Enjoy the remainder of your week!
Love and Blessings!