We often think of the spirit of religion as belonging to those “other” people and those “other” churches. Do we understand how deeply embedded it can become?
What is it in essence? When did it start? It is doing what God does not require in order to win God’s approval and make us more like Him or more “spiritual”. It began in the garden of Eden when Satan convinced Adam & Eve that if they did just one more thing, they would be like God. One bite. One touch. One glance and what God had been holding out on them would be theirs. They were convinced that the proverbial carrot was dangling in the midst of the garden to tease them and remind them they were not enough as they were. They were convinced they needed just that one more thing to be like Him when He clearly said He created them as “image bearers” of Himself in the earth.
How can we be more spiritual, than spiritual? How can we be more loved, than loved? Who tells us we are not enough? The same one who convinced Adam & Eve to lose it all for that one more thing that God did not require.
Religion requires that we pray more, read more, shout louder while looking down our noses at those who don’t appear to measure up. The sad thing is we never actually do ourselves. There is one more bite required, and then we will be like Him. One more prayer prayed; one more chapter read; one more song sung; one more lap around the church and then we will be like Him.
Holy Spirit lives inside of us so we can be like Him. Holy Spirit allows us to hear His voice, so we can commune with Him. This was God’s idea not ours.
We must understand that religion pushes while Holy Spirit leads (John 14:17). Religion’s burden is heavy while our yoke with Jesus is easy and light (Mt. 11:30). Religion is never satisfied while God says He is well pleased with us through our relationship with His Son (John 14:23). Religion disqualifies while our relationship with God allows us to enter boldly into His Presence (Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16; 1 John 3:21).
There are many “rules” of religion, but God requires only two things. First that we are to love Him with all of our heart, soul and mind and second that we love others as we love ourselves (Luke 10:27). And the really wonderful thing about this is that He enables us to do both (Phil 2:13).