“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples: “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. All their deeds are done for men to see. They broaden their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the places of honor at banquets, the chief seats in the synagogues, the greetings in the marketplaces, and the title of ‘Rabbi’ by which they are addressed. But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:1-12).
Jesus was invited to dine with a Pharisee and went to his house to meet with him there. The Pharisee was surprised to see that Jesus did not first wash before the meal as expected because of a well-established religious tradition. When Jesus saw the reaction of the Pharisee, He said, “You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the One who made the outside make the inside as well? But give as alms the things that are within you, and you will see that everything is clean for you” (Luke 11:39-41). Jesus then proceeded to levy several more woes on the Pharisees concerning their pathetic practices. Just then one of the experts in the law (a Scribe) told Him, “Teacher, when You say these things, You insult us as well.” Jesus replied with several rebuking statements to include, “Woe to you experts in the law! For you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” As Jesus went on from there, the scribes and Pharisees began to oppose Him bitterly and to ply Him with questions about many things, waiting to catch Him in something He might say” (Luke 11:52-54)
Today’s “Christian Religion” is no different from the religious institution who confronted Jesus as recorded in the Gospel accounts above. Regrettably, Jesus would have the same things He said to the Scribes and Pharisees back then to the religious leaders (pastors, teachers, bishops, reverends, priests, etc.) of today’s institutions. The great divide within today’s so-called Christian churches is enormous. A divide stemming from a lack of faith, human thinking, and continuous influence from the spirit of this world. The adversary's ploy to divide and conquer is clearly evidenced by the countless denominational (and non-denominational) division all around the world. Each of these separate organizations believe they hold the truths to true Christian living and yet are deceived by their own understanding. This is the very foundation of the “Christian Religion” that is splintered and driven by varying manmade traditions and doctrines. However, this is nothing new, as we know the early Church suffered from the same divides.
The Apostle Paul recognized this growing deception and gave instructions to the believers in Ephesus concerning this. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Furthermore, Paul wrote in a letter to those in Corinth saying, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree together, so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be united in mind and conviction. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: Individuals among you are saying, “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).
Regrettably, today's modern “Christian Religion” is nothing more than a multitude of Laodicean assemblies who follow false doctrines that appeal to these spiritually lethargic institutions. Instead of seeking to find unity in the Body of Christ (the Church), they would rather defend and preserve their traditions and manmade beliefs than to open their hearts and minds to the true teachings of Jesus. This is the same behavior the Scribes and Pharisees demonstrated when confronting Jesus. It is no wonder the members of these congregations remain spiritual babes in Christ. They never spiritually mature because they embrace human teachings that stunt their spiritual growth. True Christians are not called to live this way. What does the scriptures tell us about religion? “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).
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