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When Religion Gets Wacky - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
April 3, 2023 6:00 am

When Religion Gets Wacky - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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April 3, 2023 6:00 am

There's a big difference between religion and the gospel. And as Skip shares in his message "When Religion Gets Wacky," when you give your life to Christ, God puts a brand-new heart—and all new desires—inside you.

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Here's the great thing about coming to Christ. When you come to Christ, He puts new desires on the inside.

And they work their way from the inside to the outside. Peter calls it being partakers of the divine nature. Listen, God gives you new appetites. There's a big difference between religion and the gospel. And as Skip shares in today's teaching, the good news of the gospel is that when you give your life to Christ, God puts a brand new heart and all new desire inside you.

But first, we want to tell you about a resource that'll help you relate to the risen Christ. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most attested to facts in history. It is a fact that sets Christianity apart from every other world religion.

And it's the reason for our hope. Of all of the religions in the world, only four of them are based upon actual personalities. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.

Those four are based upon the personality of the founder. But of all of those four religions, only one claims a resurrection for its founder. That's why we have hope. That's why we gather here today because of that good news. For this Easter season, we've put together a special set of resurrection resources by Skip that include five of his finest Easter messages for audio download or on CD and a full video titled On the Road. We want to send you a copy of this package of messages as thanks for your gift to support Connect with Skip Heitzig and help grow this teaching ministry to reach more people in major cities in the US this year. So request your package when you give your gift of $50 or more today and take a walk with the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus. Just call 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash offer.

That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, we're in Colossians 2 as we go to Skip for today's lesson. In verse 17, he says, these are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Notice the difference between shadow and substance. A shadow has no reality. It's a reality that creates the shadow. Would you ever hug the shadow of your wife? Why?

When you have a wife to hug. Would you ever pet the shadow of your dog? Why would you if there's a dog there that cast the shadow? Would you ever eat the shadow of a Blake's cheeseburger?

Well, it would be healthier if you did, but why would you when you have the burger right there? Why settle for a shadow? Legalism is living in shadow land. When you come to a personal relationship with Christ, that's as if you step out of the shadows into the sunlight. S-O-N light.

You get a sun tan, so to speak. Now, why is legalism so dangerous that Paul comes at it this way? Don't let anybody judge you, he said. Why?

Why is it so dangerous? Because anybody can do it. You can be unsaved and check all the boxes. I did this.

I did that. Anyone can conform to a regimen of external standards and not have a reality of salvation on the inside. The rich, young ruler came to Jesus and said, what good thing must I do to inherit eternal life? See, that's works-based righteousness. That is the religion of human achievement.

What thing must I do? And I love that Jesus began where that young man was at. He began in Judaism. He said, well, you know what the commandments say.

And the young man said, all these options, all these I have kept from my youth up. Check, check, check, check. I've checked all the boxes.

I've kept all the regulations. And then Jesus nailed his heart to the wall, so to speak, when he said, there's one thing you lack. Sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and then follow me. Because Jesus knew that man was worshiping his material possessions, and that was his God. Now, Paul, the apostle who writes this letter, would know from personal experience what a legalist was, because he himself, by his own admission, was once an ardent legalist. In Philippians chapter 3, he talks about how he was a Pharisee in the extreme. Listen to what he says, concerning righteousness, which comes from the law, I was blameless. Check, check, check. I've checked all the boxes.

I've kept the regimen of external standards. That's the religion of human achievement. But then he said, all those things that were important and gained to me, I have counted as loss that I might know Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness, which comes by faith in Christ. By the way, legalism can ruin a church. It can kill a church. Chuck Swindoll said, let legalism have enough rope, and there will be a lynching of all new ideas, fresh thinking, and innovative programs. Every church is confronted with people who just want to fold their own. We've always done it that way.

Why did you move the chairs? Watch out for legalism. Second warning is watch out for mysticism, verse 18. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight and false humility, worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Mysticism, what does that mean? Mysticism essentially, and it's not bad per se, mysticism is the desire, the pursuit, of a deeper spiritual experience. And we all want that, right? There's nothing wrong with a deeper spiritual experience per se, all in favor of a deeper walk with God, right?

All of us want that. But some go so deep that they fall off the deep end, and they start making stuff up. This is where it gets dangerous. They start making stuff up. Notice how Paul writes it, vainly puffed up by their fleshly mind. They're making this stuff up. It's not God's rules. They're not God's regulations.

They're making this stuff up. Mysticism says that there is a spiritual reality, a spiritual experience, that is above human intellect and natural senses, which may be true, but it may not be true as well. In some cases it is, in some cases it's not. Here's the problem with mysticism. Unlike legalism, which looks for truth in externals, mysticism, it's all internal. It's all about sensation, not revelation. So, it's all about feelings, intuition, moods, perceptions, which are subjective.

They change from moment to moment. So, for example, to a mystic, feelings during a worship song are far more important and more valid than just Bible study. So, the question becomes, not what you know or what is true, the question becomes, how do you feel? Now, why is this so dangerous? Well, it's dangerous on every level, not just in church. It's dangerous in society. And, by the way, that same thinking dominates Western society today, even when it comes to gender. Because now it's not about biology or reality. Now it's about reality.

Now it's not about biology or reality. Now it's about identity. Well, who do you feel you are?

And then everyone has to just pretend that's okay. Well, you feel like a cat? Okay, you are one.

You're a boy who feels like a girl? Okay. So, we have to deny biology and deny reality and opt for a mystical identity. Dwight Longnecker, who is an Irish clergyman, said this, and we're going to throw it up on the screen. First, we overlook evil. Then we permit evil. Then we legalize evil. Then we promote evil. Then we celebrate evil.

And then we persecute those who still call it evil. Now, that's Paul's concern here with mysticism. Paul's concern is that, at first, they're just going to overlook this mysticism.

Oh, well, you know, people have different ways. First, they'll overlook it. Then they're going to permit mysticism. Then they're going to celebrate it.

And pretty soon, they're going to persecute anybody who says, that's weird. So, watch out for mysticism. Now, he gets more specific as to what this is. In verse 18, when he writes, let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility. He mentions that twice, false humility. And notice this, worship of angels. If you were here in our studies the last few weeks, I told you about emanations. They believed in these sub-gods and goddesses, that there was God, and there were people on the earth.

And between earthlings and God were all these thousands of different angelic beings and emanations, sort of like a bridge that connected humanity and God. And they, the Gnostics, the false teachers, they, with their transcendent ways and superior knowledge, will take you through the ladder of all those emanations, and one day you can touch God. And what Paul calls it is false humility. False humility. False humility.

Think of it. They're saying, well, I'm just a mere human. I have no right to go directly to God. I'm not good enough to go directly to God. I must go through these emanations and angels and spirits to get to God. That sound familiar to anybody?

It sounds familiar to me. It's how I was raised. I was taught I have no right to go directly to God.

I'm not good enough. I can't even go directly to Jesus who will get me in touch with the Father. I need to at least go through Jesus' mother, Mary, who will connect me to Jesus, who will connect me to the Father, or saints who will connect me to God. But when you worship or pray to anyone else besides God, listen, check this out. When you pray to anybody else or worship anything else, you are decapitating your spiritual life. Verse 19, not holding fast to the head from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. That is, spiritual growth comes by direct union with Jesus. And you are allowed direct union with God. That's what Jesus Christ said. He said, from now on, you can go directly to the Father in my name. And the Lord Jesus said, abide in me and I in you. My Father is the vinedresser. I am the vine. You are the branches.

Just stay connected. And also, you should know this, worshiping angels is strictly forbidden in the Scripture. Jesus was having a conversation with Satan at his temptation, and he said, it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. And then, there was a time when the Apostle John actually tried to worship an angel. In the book of Revelation, he's getting all these visions and dreams and revelations from angelic emissaries. And so, it says in Revelation 19, I fell at his feet, that is an angel's feet, to worship him.

And he said to me, see that you do not do that. I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren, worship God. So, watch out for legalism, watch out for mysticism, and the third warning is watch out for asceticism. Therefore, verse 20, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, it means the ABCs, the basic rudiments, as though living in the world, why do you subject yourselves to regulations?

And here's the regulations, do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with the using, according to the commandments and doctrines of men. These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, that's a key phrase, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. Asceticism, essentially, is the neglect of the body. It is a rigorous self-denial in order to be righteous. Okay, so legalism, it's all about what you do, mysticism is all about how you feel, asceticism is all about what you don't do, what you don't permit yourself to have. Sad to say, but I'll say it because it's true, throughout church history, different periods, some have believed that to be a Christian you have to reject anything that is good, anything that is beautiful, anything that is comfortable, in order to pursue God. In other words, if you want to follow God, it's got to hurt. So they reject marriage, sex, parenthood, material comfort, in favor of a monastic lifestyle, voluntary poverty.

And there are several examples. In the earliest years of Christianity, I mean post-apostolic era, there was something called the Desert Fathers. I don't know if you've ever heard of Simeon Stylites or Antony who lived in Egypt. These were the Desert Fathers and Hermits who believed that isolation enhances spirituality.

We tried that for two years, it doesn't work. Then in the Middle Ages, they got this notion that if you wore uncomfortable clothing like hair shirts next to the skin, which are very uncomfortable, or slept on a hard bed, or whipped yourselves till you were bloody, that that was somehow a good thing. And then there are even stories of the monks in monasteries who when they dealt with lustful thoughts, because after all they're still humans, and they have to think things, or they do think sometimes sinful things in their heads, that whenever they had lustful thoughts they would throw themselves into thorn bushes and get all cut up thinking that getting thrown into the thorn bush is going to distract me from having lustful thoughts.

Of course, you could always tell when you get together later on at dinner time who was lusting that day. And then some of you have even heard of Origen, one of the Church Fathers, Origen Antimantius, who got himself castrated because he read Matthew chapter 19 where Jesus speaks about those who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God's sake, and so he had himself castrated. Now why, what's behind all of this asceticism? It is the basic belief that the material world, including my physical body, is evil, must be restrained. Now Christians would agree with that in part. Most Christians agree that discipline is important. Things like fasting are good things and helpful things. We would say our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

We should do what we can to be useful to God during our lifetime. Paul said, I discipline my body and I bring it under control. But asceticism is different.

Asceticism tries to sanctify the soul by disciplining the body. In other words, in order to get God's favor, I'm going to discipline my body in harsh ways. And they call this, or refer to this, it's an odd term, as a means of grace. The flogging, the hurt, the pain, all of that they say is a means of grace. You know what grace means? Grace means unmerited favor. How do you merit unmerited favor? How do you do something as a means of grace? Grace is undeserved by the recipient.

They call it a means of grace. Here's what Paul wants you to know. All of these rules made up. They're made up. They didn't come from God. They came from people.

They made them up. Verse 21 says, do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which concerns things which perish with the using, watch this, according to the commandments and doctrines of men. So don't let anybody throw a set of rules and regulations beyond what Scripture says. You're in Christ, you have enough.

Now here's the fatal flaw. Here's the flaw with asceticism. Verse 23, these things have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. Those who live this way will garner a reputation for spirituality. Somebody will see somebody who's really hurts himself and is miserable looking and they'll go, wow, that guy must be spiritual.

Look how miserable he looks. He's got to be close to God. Nobody looks that bad unless they're really spiritual. So they'll get a reputation for spirituality, but they may not be spiritual because external rules, external restraints, do not produce internal righteousness or change. In fact, asceticism, you know what it feeds? Pride. Pride. It's false humility. It gratifies our flesh. It makes us feel more spiritual. Listen to how Jesus put it.

When you fast, don't be like the hypocrites with a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear to be fasting. Barely I say to you, they have their reward. You know what their reward was? People going, those guys are spiritual. That's their reward.

That's all they get. Here's the great thing about coming to Christ. When you come to Christ, he puts new desires on the inside and they work their way from the inside to the outside.

Peter calls it being partakers of the divine nature. Listen, God gives you new appetites. Before I came to Christ, I never wanted to read this book. You could give me a Bible.

It could be a nice shiny Bible. I'd never read it. I didn't want to read it. I didn't understand it.

Why would I read that? I didn't want to go to church. Hey, Skip, come to church.

No, thank you. No. I was forced to come to church my whole life. I didn't want to have spiritual conversations. I didn't want to have spiritual conversations. I didn't want to discuss any of that.

But you know what happened? The day I gave my life to Christ, you couldn't keep me away from the Bible. You couldn't keep me away from church. You couldn't keep me away from discussions with believers and unbelievers about spiritual reality. I had a voracious happening.

Where'd that come from? That's the seed of life planted within the heart. So then, don't let anyone render a verdict on your spirituality based on externals, on what you eat, what you drink, what spiritual event you go to, keeping the Sabbath day or not keeping the Sabbath day. It's not about sacraments. It's not about sacraments. It's not about ceremony. It's not about rituals.

It's about nothing external. It's not about anything mystical and feeling. All of those, he says, are shadows, but Jesus Christ, the person of Jesus Christ, as presented in the gospel, that's the substance.

He will change your life. Here's, and I close with this, the difference between religion and the gospel can be summed up this way. Religion is man's quest for God. The gospel is God seeking the lost.

All religion originates on earth. The gospel originated in heaven. Religion is the story of what sinful man tries to do for a holy God. The gospel is the story of what a holy God has done for sinful man. Religion has good views, but the gospel is good news. There are many religions. There's only one gospel.

Religion is man-made. The gospel is a gift of God, and it's free. It's free. It's free.

Jesus did all the work, the heavy lifting. You have to receive the gift. That's the thing about a gift. If you give a gift, the gift has to be received. If I were to stand up here with a nicely packaged gift with a bow and say, I have a gift for you. Oh, you say, thank you, and then you walk off. Well, the transaction wasn't made.

It's invalid. The gift has to be taken and opened and applied. So the Bible says that salvation is a free gift of God. But Jesus said, Behold, I stand at the door and I knock. If any man will open the door, I will come in and have fellowship with him and he with me.

So he's knocking at the door of hearts today. He is wanting to give you his free gift of being right with God, simply by faith in Jesus, the authentic personal relationship with God through his Son. Religion isn't enough. Good works aren't enough, and here's why. You can't do enough good works to be good enough.

You can never be good enough. So God just says, You know what? You'll never be good enough, so I'll be good enough for you by letting my son take your punishment, and I offer you his righteousness to be clothed in as you stand before me.

Is that not a great deal? So why haven't you received the gift? That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from his series Always Only Jesus. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Now, here's Skip to share how you can keep these messages coming your way to connect you and many others around the world with God's Word.

God's truth is the best foundation you can build your life on, and our goal here is to empower your life with his truth through these Bible teachings. So would you please consider giving a gift today to keep the messages coming to you and to help more people build their lives on God's Word? Here's how you can give a gift to help more listeners like you build an unshakable faith. Visit connectwithskip.com to give a gift. That's connectwithskip.com or call 800-922-1888. Thank you for your generosity. Tomorrow on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip begins a message that takes you on a journey with Jesus to Jerusalem. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-03 05:11:50 / 2023-04-03 05:21:06 / 9

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