One of my first inspections as manager was a footing inspection. I was dressed sharp, shirt tucked in, steel toes, hard hat, clip board, and I was ready. The inspector took one look at my footings and said "you failed, reschedule for tomorrow". Somehow in my efforts to make sure I was presentable I forgot to double check to see if the footing inspection was ready. We had a very windy night, and my footings were piled with trash. Even so, the basics of Christianity have been so mixed with trash, that the Christian world has been left wavering.
When religion adds things that do not belong, it creates weak, unstable people. Jesus plus anything will lead to a life of
instability. We begin with Jesus then somewhere along the way someone adds a dose of legalism. They say of course that this magic ingredient will make your life stronger. I worked for a construction company that inherited a community from another builder. The previous builder thought if was a good idea to add this special ingredient to foundation to make it stronger. The results were devastating, foundations were cracking faster then we could fix them. This happened because of well meaning people that were uneducated in the basics of foundation laying.
Good intentioned foundation layers have thought it wise to add some religion the results of course are devastating. America has become a nation that is saturated with religion, with no power. Jesus plus law gives us a Christianity that is just like any other religion.
Our foundation layers have started with Jesus then they throw in a dash of mysticism. This ingredient has lead to the super spiritual elitism that dominates many religious institutions. All the salvation benefits no longer come by grace through faith; they come through super natural spiritual experience only given to the special ones God has chosen. I admire the discipline and the dedication that this mentality has, but it still leads to life of weakness. This mentality is the most deceptive, because it promotes fasting, intimacy with God. Self denial is the core value of mysticism; if you want God to send revival then He must be appeased. He can only be appeased by rigorous self denial and the abandonment of everything natural. This once again puts the burden of salvation upon our backs. Jesus plus mysticism gives us a Christianity of emotionalism, without any power.
The last ingredient our foundation layers love to add is humanism. Humanism is the "all grace, no faith" message that proclaims God is love and everybody saved. They believe that Jesus closed hell by His resurrection. They have a half truth that God has forgiven all men, but it requires faith on our part to receive His gift. I admire those that would still pursue and love God even though they believe hell is closed; but this a faith-less life.
The false Gospel is a perversion of the truth that's why it's a little bit easier to swallow. We cannot be deceived by a bald face lie, it must contain partial truth. This mixture of the message leads us to a life of frustration and defeat, and is why Paul pronounces a curse upon those who proclaim any other message.
In Paul's letter to the Galatians he wrote, "for do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men?" Religion pleases man but faith is what pleases God. If man didn't find pleasure in religiosity and churchianity there wouldn't be so many religions today. Mankind wants to believe they can make themselves righteous. If we can receive God's favor by hard work, it would testify to the fact that we are worthy and great. We then can look to "self" and sing "how thou art."
Grace removes all boasting, if God's favor can be earned, it would only feed the pride of life. We need only to look at the life of a Pharisee to discover the effects of self salvation. The Pharisee, who thought they earned salvation looked down upon others who they believed could not. They called them pagan, heathen, and the lost, giving them labels to show how inferior they were to them. When we view people as inferior they become less important then we are. Religion gives man a superiority complex.
Mankind wants the praise for having great moral character. We honor heroes who have endured extraordinary circumstances, which is great, but it doesn't make us righteous. In fact, if we do great things for reward or merit, it only adds to the pride of life. Religion does what it does to be seen by men, and to receive the praise of others. Like the Pharisee who loved to pray at the street corners to be seen by men. Like the thousands of youth that gather around the flag pole to pray, in order to be seen by men.
Mankind wants praise so much we will pretend to be something were not. We will clean up the outside of our life, yet be a corpse on the inside. In fact, religion loves to put makeup on dead men and pretend their alive. The strange thing is, we can conform to religious obligations merely to be though well of. We can pray, fast, and give like hypocrites in order to receive the praise of men. We can gain position and favor because we are so outstanding, yet people don't know our ambition for recognition has caused us to do our great deeds. We can cross land and sea to convert the masses, yet only create followers who are twice religious as we are.
This superiority complex leads to arrogance when we begin to claim more consideration and importance then is due. Religion can only feed our "ego" even more. What was designed by God to bring us to the end of ourselves can become like a drug we can't kick. Our very identity can become so intertwined with religiosity, and churchianity that we don't know who we are without it.
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