Dangers of the Religious Spirit

I understand that this blog’s title and possibly the blog itself is going to turn a few heads and may lead to quick judgment, but bear with me, here. I am not passing judgment on other Christians or anything of the sort. This is basically saying what is the factor for determining your status as a Christian. If you’ve read and understood the gospels, this should come across as nothing new.

Ok, first off, let me talk about how this got started. I’ve been suspecting that one of my friends may not really be a Christian as he claims to be. This got me nervous, because I hate being judgmental. I did, however, start praying that he will grow in relationship with the Lord and desire wisdom. However, this prayer cannot work if he does not have a relationship to start with. So, I never said anything about it to him until last Sunday, when he revealed to me the truth. He said he was technically agnostic, so I asked him if he basically chose a religion and stuck with it. It hurt to find the answer just after, as he said “yes”. That was when I told him, first in a roundabout way, then directly, that he isn’t yet a Christian. Then, he started lashing out at me some, because he thought I was being judgmental of his decisions and beliefs. A good friend of mine, who was with me at the time, also was angry at what I said. He thought that I was being judgmental on people’s stances on science, despite that I never used the term nor implied it in any way. I told him that being a Christian starts with basically, “Yes, Jesus. I am a sinner. Please, be my personal Savior.” However, I do not know if he understood.

Now, I want to talk about Jesus’ death on Calvary. There were two others next to Jesus: one was a murderer, and one was a thief. The murderer mocked Jesus in a similar way as the people around the cross did. However, the thief realized his actions and believed in his heart that Jesus truly saved people from their sins. So, he said to Him, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Now, this man had spent his life robbing from others. He didn’t spend his Sundays in the Temple. He didn’t give his possessions (not the possessions he stole, but his own possessions, if any) to those in need. He didn’t say the Lord’s Prayer 100 times, or anything. He didn’t get baptized. He was, without a doubt, a sinner. Jesus spoke to this thief. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Let me lay down the bare facts on salvation. First off, going to church does not make you a Christian. You could go to church all of your life, but it will not make you a Christian. Don’t get me wrong on church. I love it. I would not miss my church time even if there was a video game I would badly desire to buy that day. I love enjoying fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I love to worship my Lord. However, those things did not get me saved.

I have my own beliefs regarding political issues and stuff. We all do. And most, if not all of them, are different. I don’t wish to talk about them, because politics is my least favorite subject to talk about, ever. However, my beliefs on certain stuff do not save me, nor do they condemn me.

I love to give. I made sure I give my 10% worth (and a little extra) each week. One time, I was about to drive from work to lunch, and a man came up to me, because he did not have any bus money. However, I made sure I gave him more than he needed, because he may have needed that money some time in the future. That did not get me saved, however.

“For it is by grace you are saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Isaiah 64:6

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

It is not by doing certain works or by believing certain things that gets us saved. It is when we allow Jesus to be our personal Savior. We realize and admit that we are sinners and that only through Jesus can we be saved from those sins.

Be careful! The religious spirit that makes us think that we are Christians solely by the works we do is deceiving. To believe that spirit is a dangerous mistake! It gives us a false sense of security and brings another evil into the mix: pride. It hardens our hearts and keeps us from following God’s Will for our lives. Also, to those who are already Christians: make sure that your heart is in the right direction when you do acts of kindness. These acts of kindness are your faith being put into action, and they are for God’s glory. Before I go on, I want to admit something. Whenever I give my 10% to the Lord each day, I make sure not to get tempted to say how much I put in, for fear of pride. My Lord does not want me to give my tithe in a prideful manner. It is not about “Ok, I want to make sure I remain the person who gives the most money to the church.” I treat it as a physical way of saying, “Thank you for this awesome relationship. Continue to guide me ever closer to You.” Anyway, moving on. The best way to remove the religious spirit from you is to pray to the Lord and ask Him to point to you what actions you are doing is religious rather than as reverence to Him.

One more thing I want to point out. I have mentioned earlier that I have been attempting to read the entire Bible. I have to admit, that was definitely a religious action in my life within the past year, along with prayer. I wanted to make sure I read my Bible and pray for at least a half an hour every night. When I stopped doing both for a while, I thought I hit a dry spell, so to speak. Recently, I learned that these acts are religious, because I was trying to make sure I did those things each day, to make myself feel good. However, even though I do not read the Bible each day, nor do I pray every night, at least when I do, I know I am doing them for the right reasons. I read my Bible so that I can learn more about Him and gain wisdom, as well as learn about the lives of those who followed the Lord long before me. When I pray, it is when I truly desire to speak to Him, especially when I have something that I really want to talk about. So, I thank the Lord for those dry spells, that He used them to bring me closer to Him.

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