Why should we refuse to be religious?
I. Religious rituals are but a shadow of the great reality. (16-17)
“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.” Hebrews 10:1
OT rituals related to diet and special days of celebrations foreshadowed the coming of Jesus. Since Jesus has come, we need to play in the shadows but to embrace Jesus Himself.
Are we like kids who would choose a Disney Land coloring book over an all expense paid trip to Disney Land. A coloring book you can hold. You can experience the reality.
Religious Rituals are images that point to the reality of our need for Jesus. Even those who create unbiblical religious rituals, do so because of our hunger for the real thing. Religious Rituals are things we can control. That is why church people are so prone to emphasize religious rituals. But genuine Christianity is not about the shadow of rituals. It is about the reality of Jesus.
II. Religious revelations are not always Biblical. (18)
“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11
False teachers were insisting that Christians engage in the worship of angels and visions. Worship of angels can mean: 1. Literal worship of angels. This is idolatry. We are to worship God alone. The angel in revelation told John, get up, don’t bow to me, worship God alone. 2. Calling upon angels to help. We call upon Jesus and Jesus alone. Jesus is the mediator. We go through nor to anyone else. Not angels. Not other Christians and family members who have proceeded us to heaven. We go to Jesus alone. 3. Let’s worship like the angels worship. The false teachers were saying that you are not experiencing God to the degree we are. You need more. You need to be like us in worship. You need to see the visions (extra-biblical insight that others may not have.) Show me in the Bible! There worship became a source of pride not praise. We need Jesus and Jesus alone.
III. Religious rules cannot make you right with God. (20-22)
“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Romans 3:28
Sadly, it seems that often times we as Christians are known more for what we are against than what we are for. It’s time that ends! Christianity is not about a least of do’s and don’ts! A list of do’s and don’ts can’t make us right with God. How said it is when instead of pointing people to Jesus we point them to our list! Your list of taboos has no authority over me. My list of taboos has no authority over you. Our authority is the Word of God alone!
IV. Religious self-renunciation cannot make you holy. (23)
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” Matthew 6:16
False teachers were calling Christians to a life of asceticism. In my outline I used the word self-renunciation. Asceticism – Some translations say false humility or self- denial. This is much different than what Jesus means when he says deny yourself and take up the cross. Jesus means set aside yourself realizing our only hope is to follow him. The false teachers were saying that we can mistreat our bodies and with hold from our self God’s good gifts to make ourselves more religious and spiritual people. This has no benefit. It may make people appear spiritual but all it does is satisfy the flesh.
“Any asceticism is a great deal more to men’s taste than abandoning self. They will rather stick hoofs in their backs and do the ‘swinging poojah’ than give up their sins and yield their wills. There is only one thing that will put the collar on the neck of the animal within us and that is the power of the indwelling Christ.” Alexander McClaren
You see what we need is to withhold from ourselves those things our hearts crave for, we need knew hearts that crave for Jesus. We cannot make ourselves by beating ourselves up. We are made holy by trusting in Jesus.
I have said refuse to be religious. What I mean by that is refuse to be pressured into a man-made religious legalism that says through living by and promoting our own religious and moral standard we will gain God’s favor. We cannot gains God’s favor through our own effort. We don’t need this type of religion. We need a relationship with God!
V. Choose to have a relationship with Jesus.
Do you have religion or do you have a vibrate growing relationship with Jesus?
Are we calling people to be religious or are we inviting people to Jesus?