“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise.” (1 Corinthians 3:18)

You may have noticed that over the last few days in our Daily Fil devotionals, we have been pointing out some of the ways that people tend to deceive themselves. Jeremy warned us about the deception of caring about our image, Lynette warned us about the deception of mediocrity. Today, I want to warn you about one of the most sneaky and insidious deceptions ever devised… religion. Yes, religion! I actually believe that one of the most dangerous ways that you might be tempted to “think you are wise by the standard of this age” is through the practice of religion.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute, Josh… aren’t you a Pastor?” Yes. “And isn’t EFCC a religious institution?” It is. “So why are you saying that religion is deceptive and dangerous?” Well, in short, I am saying this because Jesus said this. In fact, here’s a quick list of the names that Jesus called the religious leaders of his day: “blind guides,” “blind fools,” “snakes,” “vipers,” “unmarked graves,” and “hypocrites.” You could say that Jesus and religion didn’t see eye to eye. In fact, so much so that religion eventually killed Jesus.

In John 10:10, Jesus gives us a great description of his own mission when he says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I think we assume here that the thief that Jesus is talking about would naturally be Satan. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that this could be said about Satan as well, but in the context of John 10, the thief is actually the religion. Jesus says in verse 1, that “anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” Here, the “sheep pen” is a metaphor for the Kingdom of God. What Jesus is saying is that if anyone tries to climb into the Kingdom in any other way, other than Jesus, they are deceiving themselves.

Here’s the reason why Jesus didn’t like religion and the reason why religion is dangerous and deceptive: Religion is all about humankind’s effort to climb up to God, but the Way of Jesus is all about God’s effort to climb down to us. Accordingly, the Way of Jesus is NOT a religion at all, it is actually the exact opposite of a religion! So, whatever you do, be careful about practicing religion. It won’t get you very far. But living in the way of Jesus, with the heart of Jesus, trusting that in Jesus, God made his way down to us is the only way to the life God created us to live.

Josh Rose
Teaching Pastor

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