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Religion vs. Relationship

Religion vs. Relationship
What is The Difference?

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'  And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'  Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)

I often have people make observations about my being religious.  It could be my praying at mealtime, or when I say, "Be blessed" at the end of our conversation.  It could be a number of things, but the observation still comes back to my being a religious kind of guy.  I really don't take offense to this, and in fact, I think it should be considered a great testimony to what they are seeing in my way of living.

That being said, I would like to point out that I am not huge fan of religion.  Sound funny coming from a Pastor?  I hope not because I don't intend it to be.  Truth be told, I don't want to pattern my life on religion at all - I want to pattern it on Jesus Christ.  I don't want to have another set of do's or dont's to follow; because I will only fail - just as I have on every other set I have tried to follow.  What I really want in life is this - I want to have a relationship with Jesus.  

The way I see it, this is the very reason Jesus came to earth and took on the form of a human being - to reconcile us through the atonement of our sin so we could have this relationship.  So, if He died to provide this for me personally, then why wouldn't I want to get to know Him in a personal way?  And why would I want to go back to the same lifestyle I used to live when I was in the bondage of Satan and the grasp of sin?  Well, I don't, but I still need Jesus' help in my life so I can do the things I really desire to do deep within my spirit.

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever. John 14:16 (NKJV)

I think it's unfortunate our culture has embraced some false notion of finding safety in attending church with hopes of being saved.  Church doesn't save - it can do great things to foster spiritual growth and accountability; and it can give us great opportunity to serve the needs of others, but it can never save us.  Only the blood of Jesus can do this.

Another problem I often I see is people adding a little Jesus to their lifestyle.  This is where they can acknowledge who He is, what He has done, and they eagerly accept their Christian fire insurance only to continue living the life pleasing to their fleshly desires.  But we are clearly told to put off these old sinful ways of living and to put on the ways of Christ.  This is exactly what the Apostle Paul spoke about to the Christian church in Ephesus.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24 (NKJV)

Hey Christian, it's not enough to know the information about Jesus Christ - we need to have a relationship with Him.  When you think about it, it's no different with any other relationship - without interaction and commitment, it has no value.

STUDY QUESTION: According to Matthew 7:21-23, what is the consequence of only Knowing of Jesus, and not Knowing Him personally?

PERSONAL INVENTORY:  Have you made a full commitment to receive Jesus as your Lord and your Savior?  Are you getting to know Him personally by spending time reading His Word and praying with Him?

APPLICATION: Start spending time in God's Word - The Bible.  Make some time each day to read it and to let it renew your mind and transform your life.  Get to know Jesus in the way He desires to know you.

Father, I pray that You would open the eyes of those who have been deceived by Satan, that they might see the truth of Your Holy Word. May all who truly want to know You, seek You through prayer and Your Word and may You reveal Your truths to them liberally.  In Jesus' precious name, amen...

Be Blessed, Pastor Scott

Copyright ©2017 by Pastor Scott Wright.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000