"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless, and widow in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
Religion Vs. Relationship
It's important to understand the meaning of: Religion and Relationship.
Religion defined in the Webster's Dictionary dated 1956: Piety, consciousness, to bind together, to gather, to collect, making the primary meaning a collection, and then more specifically a collection of religious formulas. 1) A system of rules of conduct and laws of action based upon the recognition of, believe in, and reverence for a superhuman power of supreme authority. 2) Specifically, a particular kind of faith and practice entertained and propagated by its devotees. 3) The essential observances and practices of a religious people or of a sect. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:27. (Yes, it was in this edition of the Webster's dictionary!) 4) Spiritually pure, as distinguished from intellectual and social characteristics. Pure religion breathing household laws. 5) Devoted to consistency (.i.e. it's against my religion to do this or that.) 6) A religious order or state. 7) Practice of sacred rights and ceremonies. The following are types of religions, still studying out the word:
- Established religion: a form of religion recognized and approved officially by a state or government
- Natutural religion: religion derived from the teachings of nature alone.
- Revealed religion: religion based upon positive revelation.
- To experience religion: to have personal conscious evidence of the favor of God in the forgivness of sin and a change of heart to the converted. (To get religion is the same)
- To profess religion: To make publicly with the church, to make monastic vows.
Now if we look at the modern version definition in the Webster's Dictionary it says: "The feeling of reverence which men entertain toward a supreme being; the recognition of God as an object of worship, love and obedience; piety, any system of faith and worship. (It also goes into the forms of religions as stated above.)
Now what does the Bible say Religion means?
Religion in the Bible: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless, and widow in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27. Interestingly that old version of the dictionary even quotes this! But as I looked in the current dictionaries that most of us use, nothing closely relates to the description above! It's interesting that the meaning has changed in time about the word "religion" in the world, but HAS NOT change in the eyes of Truth.
I want to start with the area of Religion, and close with discussion on Relationship.
According to the meaning in the first definition of the word, it in a round about way talks about relationship. But it also talks about the need to have formulas that govern them. Jesus came to do away with the "law" thereby bringing freedom and peace. So, which one do you live under? Religion or Freedom?
I want to ask you some questions to help us begin with this study. It's important that you answer them honestly to yourself, and if you aren't sure about a certain question, stop and ask God to help you with that question. Remember, the truth sets people free! Even the truth about your own feelings, no matter the answer!!!
- Do you want to belong to a religious organization?
- Do you desire to be involved at a high level of recognition?
- Do you have the need to be appreciated?
- Do you want to be heard and seen?
- Do you desire glory? (Now a religious spirit will automatically say no, but really think about it and confess the truth. Let's all get free OK?)
- Do you desire "How to" instructions to achieve your goals, including healing, etc.
- Do you fear man?
- Do you have the need to be controlling?
- Are you concerned about money?
- If in ministry, do you look for ways to bring in dollars?
- Do you have pride?
- Are you arrogant?
- Are you a respecter of persons? In other words, wanting relationships with people who have something to offer you.
- Are you judgmental? Critical about people, especially those who seem to compete with you?
- Do you require justice for injustice done to you?
Do you desire to have laws and rules to govern you?
- Do you want to tell others what to do?
- Do you want a road map of your life?
- Are you selfish?
- Do you want more even though what you have is enough?
- Do you want others to do things that you aren't willing to do yourself?
- Do you care about how you look to others? Self doting, conceited
- Are you jealous and/or envious? (Look up the definition of these words to help you answer - they don't mean the same thing.)
If you answered yes to any of these, it is more than likely you have what is called a "religious spirit."
Let's see what Jesus says about it. Speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites@ for ye are like unto white sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." Matthew 23:27.
As you study that passage of scripture, Jesus recognized that the religious people caused people to carry heaven burdens of keeping laws and accordance yet they themselves don't keep them. They wear good apparel on the outside, but inside full of death - there is no life or liberty in them.
If you are feeling "bound" when you go to your church meetings. If you don't feel free to say the things you want, or raise your hands in prayer and praise. If you are "afraid" what others will think of you if you don't go to church one Sunday. Ask the Lord if there is a religious spirit there. It sounds something like this, "I didn't see you at church last week." But it wasn't being said because they cared, it was being said to condemn and judge to make themselves look "religion."
I choose to release myself from that spirit by recognizing first if I have it, then recognizing if my church has it, and then I can make some choices on becoming free.
I too had to recognize if I had a religious spirit. I didn't think I did, but the evidence of my actions and thoughts proved different. So I began to investigate. Of course, I can only teach you now because I finally got free from it so I can clearly recognize what was going on and what I did that set me free.
All those questions that I asked you, I actually asked myself! And one of those that stood out the most for me was telling people (my husband especially) what to do, and wanting recognition, which is the same as desiring glory! That one last statement is what was the downfall of all the religious leaders in Jesus' day, and I believe is still the same today.
Religious people want to be heard and seen! That's what I desired. To be heard and seen, by people that are being heard and seen! Get it? What a cycle! The need for this is so that "we" receive appreciation, which as I said a moment ago, is the same as desiring glory. And you and I both know that all glory is to go to God, but if we are true with ourselves, we want a piece of it too!
Now it's not that I can't continue in ministry that is being heard and seen, but my heart condition is different toward it. My motives are different. I've removed the wrong soul ties to people and ministries that was motivated by my own desires, needs and wants. I'm still in relationship to these same people, and same ministries, but they are free and I am free to do what God has called me to do, not man!
This is hard people. For those who are like me, it's hard to make a decision to let go of the very thing we desire to achieve the goals we have for ourselves.
My goal in life is to work full-time in ministry. I had a "plan" of achieving that goal and it involved becoming connected closely to a well-known ministry. God cut that idea short, and with that came emotional pain. Within minutes, however, after realizing God had other plans for me, the pain was gone, I saw my direction clearly, and was returned to peace again about my own walk and direction for this ministry.
Not only that, the relationship with these people and ministry was restored to a correct relationship. What I was doing and what they were doing were both great things, yet independent of each other. See I wanted to "belong." But God was trying to get through to me was that I did belong, He had a plan, and I didn't need approval of man to do it.
A scripture comes to mind along these lines. Jesus was talking with the disciples one day when one of the disciples brought to his attention that they heard of a man teaching in Jesus name! Yet he was not with them. Jesus said, let the man alone, if he is for us, he's not against us. I realized after recalling that story that that person is me. I don't have to belong to an "organization" to be affective in the lives of people. I don't have to belong to an "organized religion" to follow the Lord Jesus.
After recognizing these very things I'm teaching you, I had a little talk with God and it went something like this: (Now this is not a "how to" prayer, you can pray your own way.)
"Father, I recognize that I have a religious spirit. That's the last thing I ever wanted to have, but since I do, I will admit it and ask for your forgiveness of allowing it to reign in my life. I fall out of agreement with it right now. Forgive me that I didn't think you were enough. Forgive me for desiring glory. The truth is, I can do nothing good without you, so no matter how "good" things go, it's you who allows me to do of your good pleasure. So truthfully, I cannot gain glory, so the spirit within me is desiring it. Forgive me for being controlling, fearful, respecter of persons, looking for ways to make a buck, being jealous and envious, and back-biter. Forgive me for telling Tom what to do, that is not my desire at all. Cleanse me now from all sin and unrighteousness.
Now I take authority by the power of the Holy Spirit given me to break that power of the religious spirit off my life now and cast it out now in Jesus name. Fill me with your love Lord and ground me deeper in relationship with you. . But now that I see the spirit behind it, help me to recognize those thoughts before they ever leave my mouth! Thank you for letting me see that I had a religious spirit, because now I am made free by the blood of the lamb and the word of my testimony. In Jesus name, I pray Amen."
In order to replace the need for religion (methodology, program) we need to go after what true religion is really about. Pure religion is relationship! To visit those who are in need. To love the fatherless. To help those who cannot help themselves. To stay free from the bondage's of this world. And we do that by building our relationship with God, our Heavenly Father, as our Father, relationship with Jesus, who is our Savior, Lord, brother, and King, and the Holy Spirit who has sealed us and is now keeping us secure. Then to build relationships with ourselves, and with others.
Many of the ministry teaching on this web site helps you to build relationships with those mentioned, so be sure to study all the sessions to gain a full understanding to help bring you to your peace and freedom you so desire. It all starts at that level, relationship, relationship, relationship. As a matter of fact the Ten commandments are all about relationship! And if we keep the "royal law" found in James 5 - says love is the royal law.
If you need ministry along these lines, please be sure to call on God to help, for he is ever present and his line is never busy. Then as the Lord leads you to call this ministry, we'll be happy to help you and bear you up by the power of the Holy Spirit, walking with you to your fullness in love.
To return Back.