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:
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!!!
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.
This is a KEY scripture and a very important for foundation:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God (relationship) with all thine heart (spirit man), soul (psyche) and mind (physio) and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Upon this, the law and the prophets hang." (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31.) You can’t love yourself and have self-hatred and guilt. You can’t love your neighbor with unforgiveness. You can’t love God, because scripture teaches, how can you hate your brother whom you have seen and love God whom you have not seen?
By breaking down this key passage of scripture, it will help us gain KNOWLEDGE necessary to IMPACT our lives to change our mind, body and soul: "We are to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, soul and mind…."
How do we Love God? First we need to know His nature and character.
You’d be surprised how many people see God as a tyrant waiting to pounce on them when they do something wrong. They don’t see Him as a loving Father wanting to help His children. They only have their own fathers to compare God with and don’t understand the Love of God. They may fear their fathers to the point of avoiding them. Many people transfer this kind of fear to God. God wants us to come to Him any time, day or night, about anything! What have you believed about God?
Proverbs 2:1-5 says, "My son if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee, so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding, Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding, if thou seek her as for silver, and searches for her as for hid treasures, THEN shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God."
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THE FATHER
It’s time to begin participating in your "sanctification" process. Get your tablet of paper out and begin to answer these questions.
1. Do you see God as a tyrant? If so, why?
2. Do you feel you cannot come to Him for everything? If so, why?
3. Are you fearing Him to the point of not talking to Him? If so, why?
4. Are you mad at God for your life or current situation? If so, name the situation
5. Are you unhappy with how He created you? If so, what is it you don’t like about yourself?
6. Do you see God as your Heavenly Father? If so, how?
We need to identify where we are RIGHT NOW so that we have a starting place! The first step in healing and freedom is "Recognizing".
Compare your notes to these truths about who God is: (If there are scripture references, please take the time to open up the Bible and read for yourself – remember, God’s Word heals and delivers. What we say, doesn’t! (Proverbs 21:31) "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance and victory are of the Lord."
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THE SON - JESUS
Once we have begun to see who God the Father is. It’s now time to see who Jesus is. Write down the answers to these questions:
1. Who is Jesus?
2. Is He your personal Savior?
3. Is he the center of your thoughts?
4. Do you accept the total redemption he paid for you or do you think you have to earn it somehow?
5. Do you have to pay penitence for your sins?
6. Do you love him? He said if you love me, you will keep my commandments. What kind of a relationship do you have with Jesus?
These are some of the attributes and characteristics of Jesus:
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
Once we have learned about God the Father and Jesus the Word. It’s now time to identify who the Holy Spirit is.
Write down the answers to these questions:
1. What do you think about the Holy Spirit? Or have you even given Him thought?
2. Do you know what power He has given you? (For those who are in Christ)
3. Do you know His attributes?
4. Do you believe you have been equipped to do all things?
6. How do you see the Holy Spirit?
7. Have you ever received gifts of the Holy Spirit? If so, what are they?
8. Do you believe in eternal salvation?
9. Did you know the Holy Spirit speaks to us through our conscience?
10. Did you know He brings to our minds things we need to get through trials and tribulations.
Scripture References. Please look them up before going on.
"….. and love thy neighbor as thyself…"
RELATIONSHIP WITH SELF
Before we can have a good healthy relationship with others we need to have a good and healthy relationship with ourselves.
In the following session, we deal specifically with loving and forgiving ourselves. I know that perhaps many of you struggle in this area. But we have to realize that if God loves and forgives us, who are we to think any different. If we don't take Him at His word, we are making our thoughts higher than his and that is sin. We put ourselves in our own predicament, but then blame God.
We can see what's wrong in other people, we may even have a 7-step plan for their breakthrough, but we just don't see inside ourselves as clearly. (We think we do, but we really don't.) If you really want to know what is inside you, really want to know, ask one of your family members or closest friend. Believe me, they know. We can see clearly in other people's lives, but we just can't see clearly in our own.
One day I was talking to a friend at work. She said to me that she felt a dis-ease from me. She had thought I was mad at her or something. I sat her down and said, "let's investigate. " See I know from experience that others see me better than I see myself. So after we talked for a bit, I confessed to her that I was going through some personal issues and was hurting and that's what she sensed. I didn't even know what I was going through caused my demeanor to change. So after we talked a bit more I asked her to pray for me. She prayed for me and I had a heart to heart with my Heavenly Father and was restored. See I had not realized how I was being, but then through someone else's eyes, I saw it. I was set free! I could have brushed this off and said, "Oh, there's nothing wrong, I'm not mad at you, that's silly. " But then we would have both still "felt " the dis-ease. This way, we were both set free.
See, God will use others to help us see stuff in ourselves as well. Once we recognize (which is the first step to freedom) what is in us, then we can cooperate with God as He begins purging those things from our lives.
We need to be open to get to know ourselves. It could be a bit unnerving at first because you're not sure what you'll find. But it is so rewarding. I remember when the Lord introduced me to me, I cried for 3 days and never wanted to show my face in public again. I saw selfishness, bitterness, anger, fear, resentment, self-hatred, pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, greed, jealousy and envy, distrust, frustration, control and manipulation, self-pity, self-centered, and on and on. Believe me, it wasn't pretty. But after I had my screaming fit about it, God closed up my heart and put a zipper on it. He said that He wanted to show me what He sees (because He knows the heart and all that is in it - Psalm 44:21; Psalm 51:6) and to know that He still loves me and that I need to love me too.
His mercy keeps those things covered until we are ready to see it so we can be set free. Because of the call on my life to help others, we had to begin working right away and didn't have a lot of time to mess around. So I got to see all this stuff at one time. I do remember saying, "But God, everyone sees all that in me." He said, no they don't, I have protected you from that and only showed you what was there so we can work on these things together without you falling apart as we begin the purging process.
Believe me, this is a process, but the best road you can be on. As you begin getting purged from within, your life improves in your relationship with your Heavenly Father, relationship with yourself and relationship with others. I found myself in the store one day just talking away with myself. And yes, I answered. I heard the Holy Spirit say, "It's nice to see you enjoy yourself, you are becoming your own best friend now. "
What is it that keeps good things from happening to us? (Jeremiah 5:25) Our own sins and iniquities, the very things we are talking about here.
Take a look at the following scriptures to discover more truth about you and your relationship with God, yourself and others. We need to take time to see what the Bible says:
Proverbs 8:22; II Corinthians 3:18; Romans 14:23; John 5:30; Leviticus 19:18; John 7:18; John 17:5; Leviticus 19:34-37; Hebrews 12:2; I Corinthians 4:3; Deuteronomy 6:5-9; Jeremiah 33:8; Titus 1:7; Numbers 13:33; Jeremiah 8:15; II Peter 2:10; Romans 13:16-18; Jeremiah 8:6; II Corinthians 13:5; Romans 13:2; Jeremiah 9:23-24; II Timothy 3:2; Proverbs 28:9 and 13; Jeremiah 10:24; James 1:22; Proverbs 28:25; II Timothy 3:1-12; Leviticus 4:1; Romans 12:10; II Timothy 4:2; Mark 7:9; Proverbs 28:16-18; Jeremiah 10:13; Romans 12:3; Matthew 5:22-25; Jeremiah 14:19-20; Matthew 5:25; II Chronicles 7:14; Romans 5:20; Leviticus 20:7; Luke 11:1; Habakkak 3:16; Job 39:28; Psalm 62:1; II Corinthians 10:5; Ezekiel 37; Romans 7:19
RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS
Once we have begun this journey of relationship, it naturally flows out to others. It no longer is a burden to love, it’s a pleasure, because you now have what it takes to love others. "Love covers a multitude of sins". Did you know that if someone hurts your feelings, or does something to hurt you, that you are supposed to love them anyway? How can we? By the Love God has imparted to us when we receive His love.
Let’s identify where we are with relationship with others:
Write down your answers to these questions:
"Desire leads to seeking which leads to knowing which leads to believing which leads to receiving which leads to trusting which leads to love which leads to obedience which leads to peace. And if you are like I was, my whole desire was to have PEACE!"
Our obedience comes easily when we know the one we are to obey loves us. Sure, we can just obey, but both you and I know it is very hard to do at times. We even say, "Why can't I just obey?" It's because you don't know the One intimately with whom you are wanting to obey. We will trust someone we know intimately. I submit to my husband without question because I "know" he loves me and I don't have any fear in our love. I'm sadden when I hear that there are women who have a hard time in this area because they don't think their husband's really loves them. But we can know God loves us and we submit to Him in obedience because He loves us. But if you don't believe God loves you, then this will be hard.
In Matthew Chapter 5 Jesus tells us to handle people like this: If someone hits you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone wants your shirt, give him your coat also. If someone wants you to walk a mile, walk with him 2 miles. If someone wants to borrow something, let him have it. These are instructions on how NOT to get offended! You overcome evil with GOOD! But again, we have to have that "good" planted in us to be able to do it, right? I'm not saying you are to stand there and be a punching bag, but the principle here is we look upon what others need before we look upon our own.
Here’s a situation many of us may have experienced: Have you had a problem with an individual and you shared it with a friend, their suggestion was to "just forget it, it’s not worth it?" So you take that advice and you try forgetting it. It’s hard to do, sometimes it takes a very long time to forget. But the truth of the matter is you really haven’t forgotten it at all. What you have done was pushed it down inside to the point it's simply avoided. But it’s inside you still! It’s in there to torment you when it wants to come up in the future. It's also used as a "filter" toward other people and that's why you act the way you do. You may treat someone badly and not even know why. It's because of the "junk" you still have in your heart toward a past relationship comes up when someone is a reminder of that past situation. You don't even have to recall the past thing, the devil does it for you. God want’s this "junk" out of you so you won’t be tormented in the future! So you won't allow it to distort your perception toward others. When the junk is removed, the bitterness is gone, the offence is gone.
Later in this teaching, we go into forgiveness. How to forgive someone who hurt you so badly it's almost impossible to think of forgiving them. Or lets say you have forgiven someone, but you have conditions to that forgiveness. Or, you don't even know you have unforgiveness. What you don't know "can" hurt you.
Scriptures to reflect on: