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Shackles of Religion

Link to shackles.mp3


Shackles of Religion:

If you have a background in organized religion it is likely that you are still wearing religious shackles.  Christ has set us free:  Completely free.  Performance based religion is a trap that keeps us focused on our selves instead of Christ.  Jesus has broken open the shackles of religion.  Fear, guilt and shame are powerful strategies to keep us tethered to religious systems.  Jesus came to set us free from religion.  Isn’t it time to step out of your chains, experience the freedom and power of Christ in you! 

Most of us have experienced the trap of performance based religion.  The trap is very easy to be lured into but then is very difficult to get out of.   In fact we walk right into the trap of our own accord.  The way it works is we are given a method to maintain “right standing with God” by our positive self effort.  Most of us want to do better, be more respected, and feel better about ourselves. 

Religion provides a pathway to “right standing with god.”  We just have to follow the method, do the right ritual, and act in the prescribed way.  I will never forget the little booklet in the foyer of little church I visited once:  The tile was “Five Steps to God’s Grace.”  The booklet listed five things that people could “do” to gain God’s favor.  Yet the Bible tells us in Second Timothy Chapter One verse nine that God has “saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

There is no pathway to follow.  No TULIPS or steps to follow to gain God’s favor or to maintain a right standing with God.  Before the world began:  How old is the earth?  There are differing opinions but we all know it is old.  Before the earth began to spin around the sun, God knew you, chose you, called you and extended his grace to you.  Long before you could even think much less “do” anything; you were called with a high and holy calling. But not according to our works.   

In the book of Ephesians Chapter two verse ten the Bible gently whispers: “NOT OF WORKS, lest any should boast.”  Thinking that God can be moved by our works is the doorway into the trap of religion.  Religion is all about our works.   Yet God shouts: “Not of works!”  Christ has set us free:  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship...”  God created us in Christ Jesus unto good works: “That is, good works flow out of “Christ in us” through us. They are not our works but his.  We do not work to gain God’s favor or to maintain a good standing with God, but instead we work in response to our good standing in the grace of God.

To illustrate what I mean: Think about all the miracles and wonders that Jesus did that are recorded in the four gospels.  He did not do a single thing to gain or earn the status of son-ship.  His works were not to gain or maintain his standing with God the Father.  He was already the son of God.  When he was born he was the son of God.  Everything he did, he did because he was the son of God. 

It is the same with us.  Anything we do to try to earn or wriggle our way into the grace of God is foolish religious self righteousness.  Our works are futile.    If you don’t believe me go out and yell at a mountain: Tell it to move.  You will yell till you are blue in the face but the mountain will not move.

But if we are born of God’s seed, called with a holy calling, with Christ in us, we are sons and daughters of God.   As sons and daughters of God, God’s works and words flow through “Christ in us” and produce powerful and productive results.   We don’t work to become or maintain our son-ship, but instead we work because we are sons and daughters.  We are free.

Performance based religion is a whirlpool that sucks you deeper and deeper into its vortex.  The harder you swim the deeper you go.  You can never do enough to buy the performance god’s favor.  You soon find yourself trapped and exhausted.  Yet you dare not stop because of peer pressure, guilt, and fear.  The shame of it all: To find that you just can’t seem to measure up.  So you swim faster.  Sound familiar?   Isn’t it time to step out of your chains, experience the freedom and power of Christ in you! 

In First John chapter one verse five the Bible tells us:  “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”  And in chapter four verse ten, John writes: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Performance based religion on the other hand presents a god that is never satisfied, who is ever eager to let you find out how far you have missed his unattainable mark.   God is presented as a mean and vindictive oracle waiting to pounce and punish when we don’t follow “pastor Biff’s” rules.  This religious god is distant and only will show up if you do the right dance and say the right words.  

Many teach that our entry into heaven will be determined by how many good works we have done here on earth.  Still others concede that salvation is by grace but then teach that our position in a heavenly hierarchy will be determined by the number and quality of good works we have done.  Yet Jesus plainly told his disciples who were jockeying for position that He is the only master and the rest of us are brethren.  There is no hierarchy in the body of Christ, the church.  We all are sons and daughters of God with Christ in us.  We all have the anointing of Christ.  There is no higher or better anointing.  We all have been called with a high and holy calling and given the ministry of Christ:  The ministry of reconciliation. 

The god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, blinds the minds of unbelievers.  In their spiritual blindness they declare themselves to be more “spiritual” than others.  They appoint themselves to positions and claim to have special anointing and the ability to intercede with God for you.  There is only one intercessor between God and humans, the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no other.  Any who claim to be are liars, thieves and do not have your best interest in mind.  The god of performance based religion has no favor or grace: Only trickery, deception and lust.

Performance based teachings are drawn out from the Old Testament period where the Jew’s had agreed to a list of rules that they had to follow to stave off the curse.  Part of their burdensome law system was a requirement to sacrifice and tithe to support the religious hierarchy.   In Malachi we find a concise picture of performance based religion where failure to pay tithes under the law would allow the devil to ravage and devour their land, family and country.   Performance of the law opened them up to blessing.

The purpose of Christ was to perform the final and ultimate sacrifice to pay for all sin once for all.  In accomplishing his sacrifice, Jesus “blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that were against us, which were contrary to us and took it (the law) out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”   That is Colossians 2:14.  

In Gal 3:10 the Bible tells us that those who are under the old law system are cursed.   Curses do not come from God.   God is light and in him is no darkness at all.  Curses are the work of the devil.  In verse 13 the bible tells us the law system is not of faith; then tells us that anything not of faith is sin.  So who does that align law based performance religion with?  Not God.  There is a stark contrast between the freedom that comes with “Christ in you” and the bondage of religion.

For two thousand years the performance religion movement has been at work distracting and deceiving believers.  When we are in religious shackles we are rendered ineffective.  Isn’t it time to step out of your chains, experience the freedom and power of Christ in you! 

If the son has set you free, you are free indeed.  Performance based law was being pushed upon the new believers in Galatia when Paul exclaimed in Galatians chapter three:

Gal 3:1  O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

Gal 3:2  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Gal 3:3  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

The Bible is very clear:  Law based religion is bewitchment.  Anything that attempts to replace faith is bewitchment.  Bewitchment pulls you into the curse.  Paul warns the Galatians and us to: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Religion has been the instigator of wars, misery and murder since the time of Cain and Able.  The modern movement is to combine all religions into one where everyone is tolerated.  Of course God told us that this would happen.  It is just a consolidation of the devil’s efforts in preparation for the end of days.  As the devil marshals his forces and becomes more blatant in his recruitment of the organized church into Godless submission, I have to stand with Paul and ask:  Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?   The answer is no.  We have the spirit of Christ. Christ has set us free from the bewitchment of performance based religion.  Stand fast in your freedom! Certainly all have the right to choose what to believe and sadly many have chosen to be bewitched, misdirected and silenced.  Every moment, every day:  We choose.   Isn’t it time you stepped out of your chains, to experience the freedom and power of Christ in you? 

Simple Free Fellowship

Neil




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