"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).
One day Jesus was invited to dine with a Pharisee and He 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 continued to reprimand the Pharisees with several more woes concerning their wretched religious practices. It was at that time 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 more reprimanding statements such as, "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)
Ironically, today's Christian Religion is similarly comprised of many manmade doctrines and traditional practices (in the name of Christ) that are no different from that of the religious Scribes and Pharisees mentioned above. The world is full of so-called local churches that religiously draw in followers with their grand worship teams, positive psychology atmospheres, and powerful speakers to appeal to and entertain their congregations. Even the smallest so-called bible believing church establishments, in their own modest ways, offer a pull for outsiders to join them. Regrettably, Jesus' message to these many misguided so-called Christian establishments would no doubt be the same as His message was for the Scribes and Pharisees so many years before. Today's religious leaders claim titles such as pastors, assistant pastor, teachers, bishops, reverends, priests, worship leaders, and the list goes on. These individuals strive to "please God" while they run their institutions scattered across the world. Sadly, most of these same leaders have little or no understanding of what it truly means to serve the kingdom of heaven.
Moreover, there remains a great divide within today's so-called Christian churches with their varied doctrines and practices that is enormous. Nonetheless, because these establishments place little or no reliance on the leading of the Holy Spirit, they rely on varied traditions, human thinking, and even worse, a covert influence by Satan himself. The adversary's ploy to divide and conquer is clearly evidenced by the many divisions within the local church system around the world. Moreover, each of these separate organizations believe they hold the real truths to Christian living and yet none of them realize they are deceived by their own false understanding of the truths of heaven. This division is the product of today's Christian Religion that immensely splintered and driven by a variety of manmade traditions and doctrines.
The Apostle Paul, recognizing this growing problem, gave instructions to all believers concerning division among congregations. "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). Additionally, he wrote, "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 counterfeit Christianity is not going anywhere as it will continue to feed the religious minded and deceive mankind from knowing the true way to heaven. Worse yet, instead of these congregations seeking unity they would rather defiantly defend and preserve their traditions and beliefs than to open their hearts and minds to the true teachings of Jesus. These practices are not from above; therefore, true believers need to be aware of their misleading ways. Moreover, those who are true Christians are simply called to be humble servants doing the will of our Heavenly Father every day until He comes for us and not churchgoers.
Consequently, yielding to these manmade practices emulates the same behavior of the Scribes and Pharisees who confronted Jesus. They became so rebellious towards the truth that in the end it led to their actions to crucify the Lord. True Christians are not called to live religious lives. The bible clearly tells us what true religion is. "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). The Lord will use us to perform these and many more selfless deeds if we turn away from the ways of this world and its practices to humbly serve the kingdom of heaven.
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