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Follow Jesus But Don’t Be Religious - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2023 6:00 am

Follow Jesus But Don’t Be Religious - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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May 14, 2023 6:00 am

Jesus clashed with religious leaders more than any other group of people. He went against their spiritual grain and challenged their legalistic ideas. Christ made it clear that He hadn’t come to establish a new religion but rather to show the way to God His Father. He didn’t give people another “system of beliefs and practices”; instead He said that He Himself was the way, truth, and life. In this public confrontation, we learn how to follow Christ in truth and not be religious.


Religion emphasizes prohibition.

What you can't do. The gospel emphasizes freedom. Freedom.

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Some follow the news or politics religiously. Some clean house or go to the gym or volunteer time or any number of things and they do it all religiously. But what about Christianity? Is that also something we can do religiously?

It's an interesting question since some do consider the Christian faith a religion. And it's one that we'll explore in depth today with Skip Heitzig as we continue today with our series Believe 879. Turn in your Bibles to John chapter 7 and as you find that spot we'll join Skip Heitzig as he resumes our study today. Jesus warned us. He said beware of false prophets. This is what he said. They will come to you in sheep's clothing.

Did you get that? They'll come to you. It's not like you have to get up in the morning and go, I'm going to find me some false prophets.

You don't have to. Just stay where you are. They'll come to you. They'll seek you out. They'll find you. They'll knock on your doors.

They'll appear on your television sets all slick and nice and you'll wonder, look at how many people they have listening to that. They'll come to you. And they come, Jesus said, not as wolves, but as sheep. They don't come and go, rawr. They come like this. And you go, that's a sheep.

Listen to what he just said. That's a sheep. Remember the Wizard of Oz? How many of you remember the Wizard of Oz? Some of you don't remember the Wizard of Oz.

You didn't raise your hand. That's like an American did not remember the Wizard of Oz. Remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz?

We're so afraid of the wizard. And then Dorothy saw this little old man behind the curtain pulling the levers. And in pulling the curtain back, it revealed the truth. The Bible repeatedly says, pull back the curtain. Pull back the curtain. Discern.

Tell the difference. Judge a righteous judgment. Now having said that, having seen that commanded, now go back to verse 17 and 18 and here it's explained. Jesus said to them, my doctrine is not mine but his who sent me. That's verse 16.

Next one. If anyone wants to do his, God's will, he will know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority. He who speaks from himself, that is, he becomes the basis of the statement.

I am now making a statement as a philosopher about the meaning of life. That comes from himself. Jesus said, he seeks his own glory. But he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is true and no unrighteousness is in him. They're saying, look, I'm simply giving you what my father gave to me.

I didn't make this up. I'm passing on the truth that comes from God the father himself. Now in verse 17 and 18 are very important truths that teach you how to get discernment, how to tell the difference.

Two things are required. A willing mind. That's verse 17. A worshipful heart. That's verse 18. A willing mind. I want to do God's will and a worshipful heart. It's not about me.

It's all about him. That's what's required for discernment. See, it works this way. When a person honestly, authentically humbles himself or herself before the Lord and says, I genuinely want to know what God's will is. That person will be a discerning person.

That's how it works. We get a lot of people and we have for a lot of years in our offices every week for counseling. We're happy to do it. We feel that we owe the Christian body at large the ability to give them the scriptures and to disciple them through a counseling environment, biblical counseling.

But oftentimes we begin our sessions with a single question and we wait for the response because that will determine if we're going to have this session or not. The question is simply this. Are you willing to do God's will, whatever it is, once you discover what it is? From this book, from the Bible. Are you willing to do God's will, whatever you discover that will to be? If they say absolutely, that's why I'm here.

Whatever the Lord wants, I want to do that. Great. Now we have a basis to move forward on. If on the other hand, the person says, well, it depends on what it is. Well, that was easy because we're done.

That's it. If you are willing to do God's will, you'll know the difference between truth and error. You see, some people will come in for counseling with their agenda, wanting to find verses, to add to the verses they've already found that they think complements their way, their will, their agenda.

And they just want the pat on the back and the approval and affirmation of the guy on the other side of the desk. Donald Gray Barnhouse put it this way, I can say from experience that 95% of knowing the will of God consists in being prepared to do it before you know what it is. Willing mind, worshipful heart, willing mind, worshipful heart. And you know, that theme is repeated and seen in many other places in the Bible.

Here's just a sampling of two. In Deuteronomy chapter four, it says, if you seek the Lord, your God, you will find him if you look for him with all of your heart, with all of your mind. Here's another one, David to his son Solomon counseled in First Chronicles 28. Worship and serve him with a whole heart and a willing mind. Whole heart, willing mind, same idea. For the Lord sees every heart and understands and knows every plan and thought.

If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Willing mind and a worshipful heart will produce a discerning individual.

Turn that coin around. The opposite is also true. One seeking to have his own will, his own way, will fall for anything and anyone who peddles some new teaching about how you should be prosperous and it's all about you and your best life now.

Everything will fall, fall, fall. So doctrine is essential. Discernment is crucial. And here's the third point, sort of comes to the core of this message. Religion can be harmful. You go, boy, Skip, those are pretty strong words. Well, they're meant to be.

They're meant to be for two reasons. Number one, it can justify evil. Look at verse 19. Jesus speaking, did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law.

Why do you seek to kill me? It's amazing because some of these religious folks like the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the other seas that were around at that time. Prided themselves in being purveyors, spokesmen and guardians of the laws of Moses, all about the law of Moses. But didn't there something in the law of Moses about thou shalt not kill? Yeah, yeah, I think that's like the sixth commandment. So here they were priding themselves in the law, our religion, willing to kill Jesus Christ.

That's why he mentions this. It justifies their evil. Religion can do that. Now, the very next verse, they deny it.

You have a demon who is seeking to kill you. But verse one tells us plainly, John writes, the reason Jesus stayed up in Galilee and didn't go to Judea is because the Jews were seeking to kill him. And go ahead and look at verse 25.

Some of them from Jerusalem said, is this not he whom they seek to kill? So they let the cat out of the bag. Here's the point.

You have a perfect example here of how religion can do harm and even kill people in the name of its religion. This isn't new. This isn't new. It's been going on a long time. I'm reading a book right now. It's taken me months.

I'm not even done. I'm only on page like 800. So it's a long book. It's on the Crusades. I wanted to bone up on that period of history. It just amazed me that in 1095 when Pope Urban II made a call for Christian soldiers to leave Europe and go to the Holy Land, reclaiming the lands for Christ, expunging the lands from its evil inhabitants, that he gave them permission, in fact, the calling to kill people in the name of Christ, guaranteeing them that if they were killed in the process, they would instantly go to heaven.

It would be a magical indulgence for them and their family. And the call to arms during that time, and I quote, is fight for the salvation of your souls. That's a dark blot on the history of Christendom at large. Now fast forward to the day we opened our eyes to a new threat in our world that a lot of us knew nothing about, September 11, 2001, when 20 people in the name of their religion decided to board jets and crash them into public buildings, killing thousands of people in the name of their religion. And we're discovering now that's a huge threat because there's a number of people, a number of people, a lot of people who want to destroy what they call the great Satan.

That's you. You're the great Satan. America is the great Satan, must be destroyed in the name of our religion. So religion can be harmful, it justifies evil.

Second thing it does, it minimizes good. Verse 21, Jesus answered them, this is classic. Jesus answered them and said, I did one work and you all marvel. Now what's he referring to? I'll tell you what he's referring to. He's referring to an incident that occurred a year and a half before this Feast of Tabernacles. A year and a half before this, Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover previous to last one, a year and a half before this. He's in Jerusalem, goes to the pool of Bethesda, finds a man who for 38 years has been in a paralyzed condition. And he walks up to him and goes, hey, do you want to get better?

And the guy has all sorts of excuses. Well, nobody can put me in the pool and it went on and on. Jesus said, rise, take up your bed and walk. You know what day that was? It was the Sabbath day. Jesus did that on purpose. Jesus thought, oh, I forgot it's the Sabbath. Oops.

It was all planned. It was the Sabbath day. And so that man rolled up his little bed, went into the temple to thank God before he went home because he can walk now. And the religious people come up to him and say, you can't carry that on this day. It's the Sabbath day. And they climbed all over his case and Jesus' case because he healed on the Sabbath.

That's what he's referring to. I did one work and you all marvel. Verse 22, Moses, therefore, gave you circumcision, not that it's from Moses. He went all the way back to Abraham, but from the fathers. And you circumcised a man on the Sabbath. If a man received circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Jesus is arguing like a rabbi. Let me just sort of set this up for you. This little dialogue here is Jesus arguing from lesser to greater, from circumcision to healing.

Now, here was the problem. The problem was there were two laws in the Old Testament that seemed contradictory. One was the law of the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, the Bible says you do no customary work. The other law in Leviticus 13 was the law of circumcision that says every male child born in Israel on the eighth day after his birth must be circumcised.

Well, you've got to know the kids don't schedule the time they're going to be born. They're just born, and eight days afterwards may fall on the Sabbath, which means you'll break the Sabbath if you do the ordinary work that you do with every other male child and circumcise that child. But Jesus said you're willing to perform circumcision on the Sabbath and really break the law of Moses. But one of the rabbis had said this, and I quote, great is circumcision, it overrides even the rigor of the Sabbath. So Jesus argues from lesser to greater, saying in effect, you're willing to mutilate a child's flesh on the Sabbath, and you're mad at me that I heal the man's flesh on the Sabbath, because religion minimizes good.

Jonathan Swift, back in 1711, wrote this, we have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. I think that sort of crystallizes what's happening right here and shows the difference between Jesus and the system. Now in closing, I want to show you four other fundamental differences between religion and the gospel.

Sort of summing it all up, here's four points if you're taking notes. Number one, religion emphasizes the outward. The gospel of Jesus Christ emphasizes the inward. Notice this is all about outward things here. Circumcision, the ritual.

Did you go to the rabbinical school that we have sanctioned? All about outward stuff. All about the facade, what it looks like. You remember on the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus said, when you guys pray, don't pray like the religious people, because they love to pray out in the open, out on the street corners, so they can be seen by people. All about the outward.

Again, look at verse 24. Do not judge according to appearance. Don't make it about appearance.

Don't make it about outward stuff. There are some, even churches, who pride themselves on how they look outwardly. Do I look holy enough? First thing, you don't look too holy. You looked holier yesterday.

I kid you not. In some circles, the plainer you look, the less embellished you are, the holier you must be. Any attention drawn to the flesh by wearing anything nice or painting yourself up in any way, it's so unholy. So if you look really gnarly, it's like, oh yeah, you must really be a holy person.

That or nuts. Religion emphasizes the outward. The Gospel emphasizes the inward. Number two, religion emphasizes prohibition. What you can't do, the Gospel emphasizes freedom. Freedom.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. It was really here about what you can't do. You can't heal on the Sabbath. You can't walk with that mat on the Sabbath. It emphasizes prohibition. It was a righteousness of negatives. Thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not. It's like the pious teenager in Sunday school who said, I don't smoke, and I don't chew, and I don't go with girls that do.

Okay, well, what do you do? If you're only known for what you're against, but never for what you're for, it's a righteousness of negatives. Number three, religion sets up barriers. The Gospel breaks barriers.

Religion sets up barriers. The Gospel breaks barriers. You know where they were that day? They were in the temple that day. And specifically, Jesus was teaching in what's called the Court of the Gentiles, this huge open area where Jews, Gentiles, men, women, everybody can come. Anybody can come.

Best place to teach a whole lot of people. But then there were other courts. One was called the Court of the Men. Only Jewish men could go there. Then there was the Court of the Women after the Court of the Gentiles. Jewish women could go there, but they couldn't go to the Court of the Men.

Then there was the court just for the priest to go into. All of these divisions, because that's what religion does. It erects barriers, and the Gospel tears them down. Paul the Apostle said, There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, Scythian, slave or free. We're all one in Christ.

The cross levels everyone, even playing field. That's why our Lord Jesus said, Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden. I'll give you rest. Fourth and finally, religion will say work your way. Work your way. You want to get to heaven, work your way. You want to find God, work your way. You work.

You do this. You try. And if you really try hard and you're really sincere, that's what religion says. You know what Jesus says? He didn't say work your way. He says, I am the way. I am the way. I am the way. I am the truth.

I am the life. No one comes to the Father unless he comes through me. Now, I want to end on this note.

We are done. I want to go back in our minds to Jesus in the temple teaching. Did you know the four times in the Gospels, Jesus asks a question to his audience? Here's the question. Have you never read?

It's an interesting question. Usually he's talking to people who knew their Bibles and he goes, Don't you ever read your Bibles like when Moses said this or David said that? Have you never read?

As if holding them accountable for knowing the truth. I want to encourage you as a Christian, become a learner. Become a thinker. Become familiar with the book. I was flying back to Albuquerque on a Southwest flight a while back and there was somebody sitting next to me. He was sitting in the middle seat.

I was on the end seat and he didn't give me eye contact. He was focused because he had a book. He was reading and looking over and intently focused on his book. It was a book of crossword puzzles. I marveled at him because this guy seemed like if there were a crossword puzzle king that we could coronate, I would nominate him.

He was so fast and so focused. This was a huge page. He had this ability to see patterns in the maze of would-be letters.

Just look at him and just put them down. Again, these were big pages, lots of words. He told me his record was 33 words in nine minutes. I don't know what that means. I was impressed.

Knowing nothing about it, I was impressed. As I was talking to him, he said, you know what the first thing I do whenever I pack for a flight, the first thing I pack? My book of crossword puzzles. He said, because it takes my mind off flying.

I walked away from that a little bit convicted, thinking, when I pack, is this like the first thing I think about? God's truth. I've got to always passionately pursue what Jesus thought and lived was important. It just made me want to be focused in my life like this man was about his puzzles. You can even do crossword puzzles religiously, but what about Christianity? If you mean that in the sense that you're focused and zealous and passionate about pursuing your relationship with God through Jesus Christ and studying God's Word, then maybe you can. Whatever you want to call it, that pursuit and dedication to God is the type of thing that can change lives.

We're all out of time for today, but before we go, let's see what's going on in the Connect with Skip Resource Center this month. Someone once estimated the cost of the services that mothers perform. The amount was huge. We know moms don't do it for money. They do it out of love.

While we can't repay our mothers, we can honor them. Here's a great suggestion. It's a special bundle of resources we're calling the Heart Songs package. It features heart songs. There's a psalm for that, a powerful five-part series led by Lenya and Janae Heitzig designed to teach you to depend on God's love, power, and comfort in every season of life. You'll explore what the psalms say about love, jealousy, fear, security, and longing.

Maybe you can think of a time when you really, really wanted something. This psalm is kind of about that. It's this longing, this desire, this hunger that the psalmist is expressing, and his longing is for home. In addition to this encouraging series, you'll also receive the Sheology Quiet Time Journal, perfect for daily Bible reading, to make notes as you follow the Heart Songs series or for your personal prayer time. Plus, you'll get a bag of Skip's Library Roast Coffee, the coffee Pastor Skip chooses when he studies in his personal library. The Heart Songs package is our thanks for your gift to support the broadcast ministry of Connect with Skip Heitzig. So request your Heart Songs package today when you give online securely at slash offer, or call 800-922-1888. And if you'd like a copy of today's teaching, it's available for just $4 plus shipping when you call us at 1-800-922-1888.

How could anyone be dying of thirst when standing next to a waterfall? We'll find out on our next study, so I hope you can join us right here on Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection, connection, connection. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-14 04:18:30 / 2023-05-14 04:27:50 / 9

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