Read Why I Hate Religion: 10 Reasons to Break Free from the Bondage of Religious Tradition Online

Authors: Creflo Dollar

Tags: #RELIGION / Christian Life / General, #RELIGION / Christian Life / Spiritual Growth

Why I Hate Religion: 10 Reasons to Break Free from the Bondage of Religious Tradition (5 page)

Religious Clichés Don’t Help

To make matters worse, Christians who judge others use powerless religious clichés to try to make others “feel” better about themselves. It is the Word that heals, cleanses, and sets people free, not a church catchphrase.

It is the Word that heals, cleanses, and sets people free, not a church catchphrase.

Telling people who are broken by sin, “Turn it over to Jesus, and He’ll work it out,” or “Jesus will fix it after a while,” doesn’t help. Now there may be some element of truth in these sayings, but what people need is wisdom from the Word of God regarding their specific situation. They need the Word broken down so they can understand and apply it to their lives right now. Saying “Joy
cometh in the morning” won’t help anyone. All people want to know is what is joy, where will it come from, and why they need it. Once you direct people to the Word, show them Scriptures dealing with joy, and give them a chance to meditate and study the Word, then they will understand and know that joy comes from the Word of God that they know and have in operation in their lives.

If you tell people who are caught up in sin that sin doesn’t have to dominate their lives anymore because they have God on their side, they can take that knowledge and break sin’s power and receive deliverance. A side effect of sin is a feeling of guilt and condemnation. These feelings can cause people to stay in their sin because they don’t feel worthy to go before God. If someone would take the time to tell them that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, they would be delivered from those feelings (see Rom. 8:1) and run to God for the strength that they need. Instead, religious Christians want to pacify them by saying, “It’s okay, honey, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. No one is perfect except our Lord Jesus Christ.” Counsel such as this doesn’t help anyone.

Condemned Christians need to know that although everyone has sinned, everyone can be made righteous. It’s the Word of God, not religious clichés, that brings deliverance and changes lives. Instead of giving people the Word, religion judges and gives the world the wrong impression of Christianity and what it is all about. This causes unbelievers to view the church as hypocrites and ultimately turns them away from God.

It’s the Word of God, not religious clichés, that brings deliverance and changes lives.

The unsaved see their Christian co-workers talking about the love of God on one day and condemning others the next day. If a carnal-minded Christian learns that her unsaved co-worker is living with her boyfriend, the Christian condemns the person by saying, “Honey, you and your boyfriend are going to burn in hell.” Even if they had a close relationship before and the Christian was trying to lead the other woman to Christ, she will now distance herself from the woman and want nothing to do with her. This type of judgmental attitude won’t win anyone to Jesus. In fact, it’s usually a turnoff to the unsaved.

Understand that sinning is what sinners do. They know that what they are doing is not right and don’t need their sin thrown in their faces as a reminder or a weapon used against them. What could possibly stop sinners from sinning? The love of God that is shown to them through Christians will draw sinners to God. The correct response to the situation mentioned before is for the Christian woman to intercede for the young woman in her prayer time and to continue to show the love of God to her. God has given us the ability to judge what is right and what is wrong, but ultimate judgment is His, not ours, to make. Christians should be known for their love, not for condemning people about their sins. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

God has given us the ability to judge what is right and what is wrong, but ultimate judgment is His, not ours, to make.

First Corinthians 13:4–5 has this to say about love: “[It] does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not
act unbecomingly” (
AMP
). Love is not rude or arrogant. Therefore, Christians who imitate God, who is love, should not be rude or arrogant either (see 1 John 4:16). If we are to win this world for Christ, we are going to have to shed our condemning religious ways and develop in the love of God. Leave judgment to Him and let love govern your thoughts and actions.

 

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, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

EPHESIANS 2:8–10

Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

ROMANS 6:18

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us
our
sins and forgive us of all unrighteousness.

1 JOHN 1:9

H
ave you ever heard the old saying, “Every charitable act is a stepping-stone toward heaven”? The belief that a person has to do good things to get into heaven has been part of a traditional mind-set for centuries and continues to be prevalent today. Many Christians believe they have to perform good deeds so they can score “points” with God. They volunteer, not because it’s good and honorable to help others, but because they think their good deeds will somehow cause God to look more favorably on them. They’ll say to themselves, “I helped feed the hungry, and I gave money to the poor. God sees all of this—maybe He’ll erase some of my sins.”

This type of thinking only keeps people in bondage by making them believe that it’s their responsibility to clean themselves up after they’ve missed the mark. Often, they feel unworthy to participate in church activities because they think God is mad at them. Consequently, their church attendance falls by the wayside, they avoid other believers, and they neglect spending personal time with the Lord. Religion makes people believe that they
must be flawless before they approach God. Thinking like this keeps them from going to Him in the first place.

Many believers, as well as unbelievers, are under the impression that they must stop lying, smoking, and sleeping around before they can come to God, but that is far from the truth. I’ve heard people use the excuse, “I’m just waiting to get myself together before I go to church because I don’t want to keep disappointing God.” The thing is, you can’t clean your life up on your own. If you could, then there would have been no need for Jesus to die on the cross.

I’m Not Worthy

One of the most challenging things I deal with as a pastor is seeing faithful church members fall by the wayside because they feel as though they have messed up and have disappointed God. Because they are more focused on their sin than on their righteousness, they feel too condemned to come back to church. In their minds, they perceive their sin as being beyond God’s ability to help, so they sever their relationship with Him.

Several years ago I was at a local mall where I bumped into one of my church members. This was a guy who sat in the second row of every service and never missed a convention at the church. He was a faithful and active member, but after he had become tangled up in sin, he stopped coming to service completely; it was as if he had fallen off the map and disappeared. Instead of receiving God’s forgiveness, this young man ran away from Him.

When he saw me, he looked surprised and a little uncomfortable. After some hesitation, he came over to shake my hand. I told him that I hadn’t seen him for some time and asked where he had been. He became nervous and started stuttering. He said,
“Well, I, uh, I don’t know what happened. I just hit a rough patch, I guess. I got caught up in some mess, which I’m now trying to work through. I know God isn’t happy with me, and I should be in church, but I’m trying to get my life together before I come back. I want to get my life right before I go to God.”

That’s backward! If he had taken the time to renew his mind about what the Word says regarding righteousness, he would have immediately run
to
God, accepting forgiveness, instead of running away from Him. He believed the lie that he wasn’t good enough to stand before his heavenly Father. Guilt and condemnation, which are products of sin, were ripping his heart and mind apart. I knew the devil was telling him that he wasn’t worthy to ever show his face to God again because he had messed up one too many times.

I said, “Son, let me tell you this: You’ll never be good enough. That’s why Jesus died on the cross for you. Even though you messed up, you are born again, and you are already right with God. He loves you. He isn’t mad at you. If you will look to Jesus, He will help you out.”

God is the only one who can turn your life around, not you. He loves you regardless of how many times you mess up. If people would only make a quality decision to get back in His presence, He would completely restore them and turn their situations into a testimony to deliver others.

Contrary to what you may think, sin is not the church’s biggest problem. In fact, it should not be a problem for any born-again Christian. Because we have been set free from sin and are now servants of righteousness (see Rom. 6:18). It isn’t a sin problem that gets people in trouble; the problem is a religious mind-set that keeps them bound in sin and weakened by guilt and condemnation.

Believers must understand that sin lost its power on the
cross. Jesus redeemed you from the curse of sin once and for all. Romans 8:3 says, “For God… Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice]” (
AMP
). Jesus bore your sins at Calvary. His flesh and blood sacrifice secured your righteousness forever.

If you don’t already know, righteousness is a free gift from Jesus. You cannot earn it. As a righteous person, you have a right to go before God, and by faith accept the forgiveness that Jesus has already provided. Righteousness is being able to stand before a holy God without a sense of guilt or inferiority, not because of anything
you
did but because of what Jesus did. To wallow in sin, rather than run to God for forgiveness and deliverance, which has already been provided, is a slap in His face.

God has made provision for you to live sin-free as well as guilt-free. His grace is an empowerment that equips you to live a life that pleases Him and allows you to serve Him acceptably. All you have to do is receive His grace by faith and believe that you have everything you need, through Jesus Christ, to live a victorious life. Throw that depression, guilt, and condemnation out the window! You should be rejoicing because you know that when you sin, or miss the mark, you have a right to be forgiven and to keep moving toward God’s perfect plan for your life. You may have been sidetracked by sin, but you can repent, change directions, and quickly get back on the right path. The Word says, “Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1
AMP
). I believe that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, period.

Yes, You Are Worthy—You’re Righteous

The Word of God says that believers are now servants of righteousness, but many people can’t receive that truth because religion has trained them to think they are just sinners who are saved by grace. They have a hard time being called righteous, because they have taken Romans 3:10 out of context: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” The Apostle Paul was talking about unbelievers here, not Christians. Unfortunately, many people still feel as though they must do something to be
righteous
, or to be “in right standing with God.” They have not realized that their righteousness was secured on the cross along with their redemption from sin. First Corinthians 1:30 says, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

To overcome this type of mind-set, Christians will have to reject the teaching that says they are righteous through works. Doing goody-goody things like selling fish dinners for the church’s building fund or visiting the sick in the hospital do not make you righteous. Take a look at James 2:17–26:

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do… do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham
believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone… As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
(
NIV
)

James said that it is faith that makes a person righteous, and that person has to have works to show that his faith is operative. It’s not a person’s good deeds that get him into heaven; it is a person’s faith, supported by his works, that makes him able to stand confidently before God. Works alone won’t get the job done.

Righteousness is something that must be received by faith. You don’t earn it by performing works. It is received when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Because of wrong teaching, people have a hard time understanding what righteousness is and how it benefits them.

God has set fivefold ministry gifts in the church to help build up the Body of Christ so that it can come to a place of maturity; however, many ministers who stand in the offices of pastor, evangelist, teacher, prophet, and apostle don’t always do what they have been called to do. In fact, many men and women of God have done more harm than good by not rightly dividing the Word.

Take, for instance, the teaching that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” which is based on Romans 3:23. Everyone has heard a message based on this Scripture at one time or another. Taken out of context, it is one that many preachers use to justify their willful sin. The truth is that the devil knows what the Bible says and always takes part of the truth and twists it in order to justify sin. Satan has used this Scripture to create sin consciousness, which keeps people condemned and in bondage:

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the
righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
(Romans 3:21–23)

If you look at verse 21, you’ll see the Apostle Paul’s topic was the righteousness of God, not sin, as many ministers of the Bible have taught. What you often hear preached Sunday after Sunday is an excuse to sin, instead of a push from the pulpit to live a holy and separated life for God. When a minister is caught red-handed for sexual immorality, you may hear him say, “Well, you know, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” It becomes very easy for this attitude to trickle down to the members who say, “Well, you know, praise the Lord, I cussed her out, but you know, we all have sinned…”

It has come to a point in the Body of Christ where people are so sin-conscious that they ask God to forgive them of sins even though they haven’t done anything wrong! You hear people pray, “Lord, forgive me for the sins that I don’t know about.” What do they mean by the sin they don’t know about? People know when they sin. But we’re more sin-conscious than we are righteousness-conscious and that’s not what God wants for His people.

Job is a perfect example of this. In Job 1:1–22, Job goes before God and repeatedly makes sacrifices to cover the sins of his children. He does this, not because his children have sinned, but because he wants to have them covered just in case they sin. Fear is motivating his actions. Unfortunately, his children die. If Job was always praying for their forgiveness, why did his children die? It was because Job’s doubt and unbelief gave Satan the right to wreak havoc in his life.

According to Romans 3:22, Christians receive their righteousness by faith. But many Christians skip over this verse and focus
on verse 23, which says that all have sinned. They overlook the topic of that passage, never realizing that Paul isn’t condemning Christians, rather he is saying that everyone has the potential to become righteous through accepting God’s free gift. Verse 23 should never be read by itself. Alone, the whole meaning and proper context are missed. Remember, verse 22 says, “For there is no difference.” Sin was made available to everyone, and now, through Jesus, righteousness is available to everyone. We all must choose.

All those years of going to church and hearing the wrong message about how we all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God can be thrown out the window. That’s not the message that God wants to convey. Everyone who believes in Jesus can choose righteousness over sin. Righteousness is your victory over sin, and it puts you in right standing with God.

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