Freedom and Religion.
Those who are in Christ are free from any form of religion and its rules.
"Don't seek God in temples. He is close to you. He is within you. Only you should surrender to Him and you will rise above happiness and unhappiness" (Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy).
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1).
Religion and politics are two subjects about which one can speak for ages and never come to the point. Why? Because there is no ultimate truth in them.
The world is overloaded with religious denominations. The opinions that they offer are more than one can bear. Some teach that by “good” living people deserve to go to heaven, some teach that there is no life at all after they die, another teaches purgatory will give them chance to get into heaven and so on.
But God Himself is saying - "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8).
Rather than on Christ... Religions mention Christ and some even say that Jesus is the Son of God, but sadly somehow are departed from Biblical truth quite far and impose on people own traditions, meanings and opinions. No religion is or even has been consistent when it comes to the Holy Scriptures. Differences about God, His Son and godly living are enormous.
Nonetheless, every religion is doing one good thing – religion is saying that there is a God, just they fail to grasp fully who God is and what He wants from and for His people.
People on the other side often come to religion just to soothe that smarting longing for God which is deep in every human’s soul, or in order to find peace and forgiveness. Religion offers some kind of forgiveness but is not able to offer peace, freedom, lasting forgiveness and assurance about one's life after death.
The word "religion" is with the meaning to bind together, keep on the leash, tie-up, restrict, to forbid, to impose a ban, to suppress, to control and so on. A closer view of religion's definitions you if interested can find on the internet web pages.
For now, the first thing to start with is to understand where did religions are getting their doctrines from. After all, each and every religion, some more some less, contain similarities in regard to God, His Son, eternal life etc.
So, where else can we find the answers as in the Bible? Studying the Bible, which could be called “The Book Of Life” we see that the root of all those countless religion's rules and traditions that we see today, are from the Hebrews, the nation of Israel. Each and every religion is built on the basis of law which God gave to the nation of people called the Hebrews or Israelites.
So, the law, in total 613 and 10 commandments (more correctly 10 principles how to live), were presented:
after the fall of humanity (Genesis 3:1-6)
after Noah's flood (Genesis 6:9-22; Genesis chapters 6,7,8,9)
after the calling of Abram leave his fatherland (Genesis 12:1-3)
after promising Abram's descendants (Hebrews) own land (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:2,8; Acts 7:5
after Israelites departure from Egypt where they (Jews) were in slavery for 430 years (Exodus 13:3-5).
After then, when the Hebrews (Israelites) were liberated from the bondage of Egyptians, they spent 40 years in the desert (wilderness) where they received 10 basic principles.
In total, they received 613 rules and regulations to follow plus now to everyone all known 10 basic principles. Until then there were no rules or regulations been given except to walk with God and listen and worship Him alone. People lived as they sought best. And the worst and destroying thing for them was that they all went astray forsaking God who led them with love and compassion.
Although they knew God as their Saviour from Egyptian slavery, anyway they worshipped anything and everything except their Creator as Paul later wrote: "they suppress the knowledge of God." Actually, this is true from the first day when sin entered the world until now.
Slightly deviating from the topic I would like to add that for the first time word "Hebrew" in the Bible is mentioned in Genesis 14:13. The root of the Hebrew word for “Hebrew” (ivri) literally means “to cross over or pass over.”
Abraham left his old life, his own people, his home and land behind him and crossed over to a new life and entered into the covenant with God. (he was alone in his faith; all the rest of the world were on the other side).
Later in Jewish history, the Israelites cross the Red Sea and entered God's promised land of Israel. So the word "Hebrew" means "cross over" from one point to another.
Word "Israel" by which God renamed Abraham's grandson Jacob can mean "a deceiver" and "struggle with God." But the two letters "El" at the end are related to God.
So, Hebrews by themselves are the ones who crossed over, we can say "from death into life," and they are related to God; they are God's own. It was and will be forever.
You know that the historical facts from the Bible show that the whole world was living in darkness because of their ignorance about God, and served different imaginary gods.
Abram believed in the one and true God, and supposedly that is the reason why God established the covenant with him and promised that through his descendants the Jewish nation will arise; that God will bring into the world people who will enter into covenant with Him and will be the kingdom of priests and a holy nation, and that one of Abraham's descendants will be the Saviour not only for the Jews but for the whole world.
God made the nation of Israelites to be holy, elected people who were to know God and teach all the other nations of the world about Him. They were entrusted with the law and the very words of God. (Romans 3:2).
"On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you obey Me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:1-6).
No other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of Principles what Hebrews received from the Lord their God. Deuteronomy 4:8
God, according to His promise to Abraham gave to the nation of Jews the Law, and the land flowing with milk and honey. God gave them the law and said - "you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (2.Moz.gr.19:16; 5.Moz.gr.7:6; 26:19).
So. The true religion that God Himself established is the original religion of the Israelites.
All they needed to do is to trust God and obey Him, and teach the gentiles (all the rest of the whole world) everything that God revealed to them and to point out to the coming Messiah.
They agreed with that.
You have declared this day that the LORD is your God and that you will walk in obedience to Him, that you will keep His decrees, commands and laws--that you will listen to Him. And the LORD has declared this day that you are His people, His treasured possession as He promised and that you are to keep all His commands. He has declared that He will set you in praise, fame and honour high above all the nations He has made and that you will be a people holy to the LORD your God, as He promised" (Deuteronomy 26:17-19).
Sadly but they failed in their high and honourable ordinance. They rebelled and turned away from the only ONE GOD to serve other gods. With all respect to them, they are stiff-necked people even today (Exodus 32:9, 33:3, 34:9; Numbers 14:11; Deuteronomy 9:13,31:27), but the Lord God loves them and blesses all who wish them well.
So, as you see the law was given exclusively to the Israelites; religion with all its rules, regulations, services etc was set. And the only ones who can claim to have true religion is the Israelites. All the other religions are either cults or sects.
Contracted form of definition for word "religion" could be - "the belief in a God, organized ceremonies and a set of rules in order to worship God." That means to follow all the rules and ceremonies exactly how God presented them to the Israelites. That is true religion.
Now all religions that we have today are established on the basis of God's given laws/ principles to Israelites.
And what is more interesting is that almost the whole world - believers and unbelievers, Buddhists and Hinduists, Islamists and Judaists, Christians and all the others whatever there may be, are reciting the very Words of God, are copying His established rules for worship services etc., and in the same time refusing to acknowledge Him as the Almighty God and ONLY LORD GOD who is over everything; denying His authority and even saying that there is no God, or He is just a symbol.
"The only fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'." (Psalm 14:1) at the very time when God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made..." (Romans 1:20).
In this short article is not possible to go into more details but the reason for an enormous number of religions from the beginning of the world till today is only our human's fallen nature. We all want power, glory and fame. We suppress the knowledge of Him, the ONE, true, living God and by so fall into the traps of the devil. Our hearts become hardened so that we live without hope, meaning and die in our sins and transgressions. Remember that all world is deceived and many are called but some are chosen.
Be the one who is called and chosen! :)
The other reason is our ignorance. Religion as such is keeping people in great ignorance so that even nations perish, not only individuals. Religion always has controlled the minds and lives of people and of nations but never has given full knowledge about God, joy and lasting peace by knowing Him, instead of that they ofer fear and different foolish preconceptions.
Religion as such still suppress and deny the Way, the Truth and the Life just because of ignorance and are going astray and are leading people astray and believing in things that are long ago dead. They believe in shadow but not in the reality.
It is because of ignorance so often people turn to religion and worthless idols and provoke God to anger. It is because of ignorance people believe in things that lead them into depression, sickness and even suicide.
But what does God is saying about this matter?
"Now if the ministry (which the most of religion perform today) that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? (2 Corinthians 3:8).
Religion till now brings death and condemnation, fear and guilt. Religion fails to understand that the Law were effective and alive till the cross.
"If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, HOW MUCH MORE GLORIOUS IS THE MINISTRY THAT BRINGS RIGHTEOUSNESS!!!" (2 Corinthians 3:9).
God Himself on the cross did away with any kind of religion.
Jesus said - "Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit." (Matthew 15:14).
Later concerning the religious leaders, Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples:
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
“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 ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Matthew 23:1-12).
Every Word from Jesus' mouth said at that time fit to every matter regarding religion nowadays.
Now if that was possible from this short article to grasp that your religion is to have a deep, intimate relationship with Jesus your Lord and that you have to do His commandments only which is: - to look after orphans and widows, to love others, to serve God by serving others, helping others - then I praise God. For anything that goes beyond that is quite useless.
Find the Truth and you will fulfil not only the ten commandments. You will be set free. Your religion is Jesus only and you must love others as Jesus loved you when He willingly went to the cross. By loving others you will be loving God. The letter kills but the spirit gives life.
Any time when you will look at something else or even into yourself except Jesus, you will feel condemnation and guilt.
Turn your eyes exclusively on Jesus.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:28,3:24).
"Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring - not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all" (Romans 4:16).
Do we have the faith of Abraham? He was justified and declared righteous before any law was ever mentioned.
Know that now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2).
You all died to the law through the body of Christ, because the first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit 1 Corinthians 15:45.
All who are in Christ are free from any kind of imposed religious rules, free to live holy life according to the Word of God apart from any kind of religious rituals, teachings and burdens.
For the law was given through Moses (and allowed all kind of religion sprang up); grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17) and that is what religion fail to grasp.
Religion still wants to keep the power and authority which belongs only to God.
Religion have set of rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence (Colossians 2:22-23).
Religion forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated (sanctified) by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:3-5).
Jesus is saying, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
Christ did away even with the very word "religion." Instead He gave us the word "LOVE."
And He said - "know the truth and truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
Accept God's freely given gift and do not deny the only one who died for you on the cross.
Be the person what God commanded you to be.
It is clearly says that "no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because "the righteous will live by faith" (Galatians 3:11). What place there is between the child of God and God Himself for religion?
"Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest" (Hebrews 3:1).
Here you can see origin of Religion - some important dates in history.
2000 BC: Time of Abraham, the patriarch of Israel.
1200 BC: Time of Moses, the Hebrew leader of the Exodus
1100 - 500 BC: Hindus compile their holy texts, the Vedas.
563 - 483 BC: Time of Buddha, founder of Buddhism
551 - 479 BC: Time of Confucius, founder of Confucianism.
200 BC: The Hindu book, Bhagavad Gita, is written.
2 to 4 BC - 32 AD: Time of Jesus Christ, the Messiah the SAVIOUR OF WHOLE WORLD.
32 AD: The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
40 - 90 AD: The New Testament is written by the followers of Jesus Christ.
570 - 632 AD: Time of Muhammad, who writes the Qur'an as the basis of Islam.
The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26, NIV Bible).