Trading Religion for Relationship.

Jesus foresaw those who would refuse to trade their religion for relationship with Him and said; “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works”? (Matthew 7:22) The Lord's response to these people who by religion’s standard would be looked up to as spiritual giants is sobering, for they had been involved in the work of the Lord and they came bringing results, yet they did not know Him. They had never known that relationship Christ is about nothing else but knowing Him by being conformed to his image. It is not about our doing all the right things.

“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity”. (Matthew 7:23)
I never knew you? You mean these men who came saying, "Lord, Lord," men who, prophesied, cast out devils, and had done many wonderful works in Christ's name, did not know Him? Friend, this is why we should not legitimize someone’s spiritually by what they do, but rather by who they are. Some people do all the right religious things, yet are not engaged in the only legitimate pursuit in the Kingdom of God. It has nothing to do with my doing the do’s or not doing the don’ts.

Paul's consuming passion was to know Christ. It was his goal, to reach the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. He counted all things...his righteousness, his pride in his religious achievements...but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus." Paul counted his religion as dung in order to win Christ (Philippians 3:8). Regarding the pursuit of knowing and winning Christ Paul went on to write, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing you are otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you" (Philippians 3:15). It is not acceptable to be otherwise minded. If you are God will reveal this unto you if you are seeking to know Him. It is not acceptable to opt for the superficiality of religion over knowing Christ. It is not acceptable to reduce relationship with the living Christ to the status of religion, as though that which pleased Him most is our business of satisfying religious obligations. It's all Christ! "Christ in you is the hope of glory!" It is all about the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.

All accepted doing flows from an intimate knowledge of and a relationship with Christ. They that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits (Daniel 11:32). God has extended His hand of intimacy, and has rent the middle wall of partition, so that by the blood of His Son we might come beyond the rent veil into His presence. But many prefer to play in the outer court. They love the symbols and ceremonies of religion. They choose the shadow rather than the substance, the ritual over the reality, which is Christ. they continue to live with the pre-cross understanding of God who required that the do’s and don’ts be adhered to instead of living in the post-cross reality of the fact that, by God’s plan, Jesus has done it all and is sacrifice was sufficient and complete and by being in Him we cease doing and allow Him to work through us, this means that no person can be called a “Spiritual Giant” or “God’s General” for all that is accomplished is the work of Christ by Christ. Ascribing such terms to man is indicative of “man worship” which is nothing less then idol worship!

Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice." Do you hear his voice? If not, don't settle for anything less. Shut yourself in with God, just you and Him alone, until you hear from heaven firsthand.

Many people do not hear Christ's voice for the religious noise around them. And if they are seeking to intimately know Him, they are looking in all the wrong places. Revivals, listening to guest speakers, seminars, special meetings, elite training class. Youth retreats, adult retreats, retreat retreats are sometimes religious noise that prevent us from hearing God’s voice.

But as it was with Elijah, the LORD was not in the strong wind even though it "rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD." Neither was the LORD in the earthquake or the fire. But Elijah heard a whisper, a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). The whisper cannot be heard in the hype and showmanship created by the flapping of our own egos. His voice cannot be heard over the noise of our own abilities. His voice is not to be found in flash, fire, and smoke of religion.

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Test yourselves and find out if you really are true to your faith. If you pass the test, you will discover that Christ is living in you. But if Christ isn't living in you, you have failed. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

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