THE SPIRIT OF RELIGION
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I believe that “Babylon,” as used in the Book of Revelation, is another word for the spirit of religion. Since I am a pastor of a church, the reader might wonder what I have against religion. The answer is, nothing, and everything.
The following essay may sound as though I do not recognize that throughout the millennia of earth’s history there have been men and women of integrity and self-sacrifice who have served in religious institutions. I am aware there have been truly noble Christian missionaries who have been sent forth by Christian denominations.
So in reviewing what I have to say, I trust the reader will understand that I am not attacking the multitudes of selfless people who have given their lives in order to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom. Rather, my hope is to point out a spirit that, in one way or another, will murder Christ wherever Christ appears.
Babylon, “confusion,” is the New Testament term for the spirit of religion.
Then they said, “Come, LET US BUILD ourselves a city, with a tower that REACHES TO THE HEAVENS, so that we may MAKE A NAME FOR OURSELVES and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, “IF AS ONE PEOPLE SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE THEY HAVE BEGUN TO DO THIS, THEN NOTHING THEY PLAN TO DO WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM. COME, LET US GO DOWN AND CONFUSE THEIR LANGUAGE SO THEY WILL NOT UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:4-9)
I guess many of the characteristics of a religious organization can be found in the passage above.
“Let us build.” This reminds me of Peter wanting to build shelters for Jesus and Elijah. The Lord ignored that request. So did God who spoke from the cloud. Imagine looking at Christ in His Glory, and Elijah who had been dead for hundreds of years, and thinking how we should structure this experience.
One time I saw a picture of two missionary leaders. They were getting off an airplane, no doubt in a country in which they planned to spread the Gospel. They had blueprints in their hands.
But such is the spirit of religion. When Christ reveals Himself in power, our first thought is to capitalize on it in some manner. We just don’t seem to be content to worship God and let Him interpret His own actions!
Instead of appreciating what he was seeing, Peter wanted to consolidate, or systematize, or preserve it in some way.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:4,5)
“That reaches to the heavens.” Religion proceeds from the desire of people to reach Heaven by their own wisdom and strength.
“Make a name for ourselves.” The name of a Christian denomination is an effort to reveal and preserve its identity and uniqueness. We want to show that we are different from other Christians.
This really is an abominable practice, isn’t it? When people die and enter the spirit world they most likely expect to see the familiar practices and institutions of their religion. The Lutherans would be listening for their introits and graduals. The Catholics would be looking for priests, and possibly the Virgin Mary. The Pentecostals would be waiting to hear someone speak in tongues.
“Surely there would be on the horizon the kind of building I am accustomed to,” they might wonder.
You may notice that the Apostle John did not see a temple in the new Jerusalem. God and the Lamb are the Temple of it. This is what we will encounter when we die and enter the spirit world. There are no church buildings! There are no special groups of Christians! Think of it.
When you die, are you going to be looking for your denomination?
You know what? God is not interested in our religious group or even our doctrine. God wants to know what kind of person we are. God is not a theologian. He is a Father, a Burden bearer, a Savior, a Creator, and our best Friend. But He is not a theologian!
What will it be like in the last days when all true Christians are one in Christ, and the world believes that it is God who has sent Christ? How wonderful will be the answer to that prayer of Jesus’.
I have nothing against religion if it brings people to the Lord. I have everything against religion if it calls attention to itself instead of to the Lord Jesus. And this is what it often does, I believe.
When I was worshiping with other Marines, during World War Two, we used to sing: “I don’t care what church you belong to. Just as long as for Calvary you stand. But if your heart is washed as is my heart. You’re my brother, so give me your hand?”
I think most of us Christians feel this way. What is it, then, that keeps us locked up in these divisions? It is the spirit of religion. It is not God or Jesus.
“If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
You might wonder, “I thought you just implied that unity is a good thing. And now we find that God prevented it!”
Here is an important consideration. If all the Christians in the world gathered together into one giant denomination, which may take place before the Lord Jesus returns, it would be the greatest enemy of Christ of all time.
Why is this. Because religious organizations always exalt men to positions of leadership. In too many instances, these are not the men God has chosen to build up the Body of Christ, but people who love preeminence and are artful in church politics.
God uses apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and a number of other ministries and gifts. These are the ministries that build up the Body of Christ. The apostles ordinarily will choose the elders who will keep the local congregation in scriptural order; or the congregation may appoint elders and deacons to perform practical tasks.
If all the Christians in the world united “for the cause of Christ” it would form a pyramidal hierarchy governed by a chief executive officer and his or her staff, who would seek to control what goes on in the local assemblies, and to whom the local assemblies must report and serve.
You can believe that if Christ raised up a prophet or apostle in such a mammoth organization, he would not be heard, if what the Lord gave Him in any manner threatened the rule of the chief executive officer.
So unity by itself is not the answer. The unity must be that of the believers in Christ in the Father. The Church, and there is only one Church, exists where there are believers who are one in Christ in God, and who move in concert with God and Christ, just as Christ always moves in concert with the Father.
So, as the Lord told His disciples when they were trying to decide who was the greatest, “You need to be converted.” In the Kingdom, he who is greatest is servant of all.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” (Revelation 17:1,2)
There are not many topics in the Bible that have two consecutive chapters devoted to it. But the subject of religion is important and has practical consequences for most of us.
Religion is termed, in the passage above, a “prostitute” and an adulteress. This is because it seeks spiritual relationships with people. The only true husband of a human being is the Lord Jesus Christ. Oneness with Him brings us righteousness, love, joy, and peace.
Oneness with a religion does not have the power or authority of God to bring anyone righteousness, love, joy, and peace. Religion is a usurper, competing for the attention of someone who is seeking God and His Kingdom.
Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:3)
Some teachers of the Bible are convinced that the Roman Catholic Church is the “woman” mentioned here. It is true that the Catholic Church, especially in its regalia when convening during holy days, is uttering blasphemies, when one considers that the Lord Jesus has nothing to do with such ceremonies. All such pomp is man’s idea of building a tower that reaches to Heaven.
However, the Protestant churches are the daughters of the Catholic Church. The lowliest of storefront Pentecostal or Baptist churches may show in themselves the spirit of religion, the desire to worship Christ according to their own ideas, instead of listening to the Master.
The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: mystery babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. (Revelation 17:4,5)
The verses above may seem like too harsh an indictment on our neighborhood church. But remember that “Babylon” represents the spirit of all religions, worldwide. Every practitioner of religion from the witch doctor of Haiti to the leaders of the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, and all other spiritual leaders and advisers, are included in the scriptural condemnation of religion.
In the Book of Hebrews, written to experienced Jewish Christians and applicable to all true members of the Body of Christ, we are exhorted to enter the rest of God. We are in the rest of God when we cease from our own striving and seek to enter that place in Christ where we think in concert with Christ; speak in concert with Christ; and act in concert with Christ. This is what it means to be a true Christian.
The rest of God is not at all compatible with religion. Religion is man’s attempt to glorify and serve God. The rest of God is God’s attempt to bring us into union with Himself so we will reveal Him in all we say and do.
Religion is man’s plan’s and efforts. The rest of God is God’s plans and efforts, plans and efforts that have been operating from the beginning of the world.
Can you see from what I have just written the difference between religion and the Divine program? Can you see that they are incompatible, except for such instances when religion glorifies Christ and brings us into the rest of God.?
Relation tends to exalt itself. The rest of God always exalts the Lord Jesus.
I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. (Revelation 17:6)
If we knew every instance in which a true disciple of Jesus has been put to death by religious people, thinking they were doing God’s will, we would be astonished. The Lord Jesus Himself was put to death by religious people.
Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.” (Revelation 17:7,8)
As far as I can tell, the beast is Antichrist. Antichrist is especially prominent in the Book of Revelation. That the spirit of religion rides Antichrist is not surprising. The spirit of antichrist is the world spirit. This is the spirit that convinces people to order their lives according to their own desires without seeking to know that God wants.
This spirit is strong in the world today. In America, I never have heard our President on any occasion give glory to God. Maybe he has and I just never heard it. This is unusual for America. The presidents of our country always have acknowledged God and exhorted us to pray so God would keep our country safe and prosperous.
The church people, by and large, participate in democracy and enjoy the benefits of capitalism. They “ride” on the antichrist world system. They are somewhat upset about abortion-on-demand and perverse sexual practices and gender confusion.
But the attitude of Americans, perhaps the majority of whom associate themselves with Christianity, take a relatively complacent attitude about some of the horribly immoral activities in America, and the President does not speak out against them.
I notice that the Muslims in Indonesia resist the immoral entertainment artists who are accepted in America and England. Perhaps the tolerance of moral filth in supposedly Christian America and England is an illustration of the spirit of religion riding on the antichrist world spirit.
It is obvious to me that there are two primary forces in the world today. One is that of religion. The other is that of the antichrist world spirit, whose god is money.
It is interesting to note there are inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the Book of Life from the creation of the world. I cannot say I understand that, other than to mention that I believe it is entirely possible to have our name erased from the Book of Life, even though it was there to begin with.
This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. (Revelation 17:9-11)
Some have mentioned that Rome has seven hills. That being as it may, I believe Babylon represents vastly more than the Roman Catholic Church. I would venture that the seven hills represent seven governments and seven kings. Who they are I will leave to scholars who study that sort of thing.
But we see that Antichrist is an eighth king who is part of the political leadership of the earth. There is no doubt in my mind that Antichrist will be a real person, a real king, in addition to there being an antichrist spirit—a spirit much in evidence in America today, as money and selfish ambition are so predominant in our nation. The Book of Daniel has quite a bit to say about Antichrist the king.
The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:12-14)
The ten kings have one purpose, the same purpose as the beast. It is to make war against the Lamb.
I never thought I would see in America the hostility against Christ that is exhibited today. I believe it is going to get worse until we Christians are a persecuted minority.
No matter how grim the future becomes, we know that eventually the Lamb will overcome Antichrist and the kings of the earth cooperating with him. But I want you to notice carefully the saints who will be with Christ when He appears. They certainly will be a minority of the believers.
First, they have been “called.” There is the population of the world. Then there is the people who have been called out of the world to serve God.
Second, they have been chosen. Not everyone who has been called is “chosen.” To be chosen we have to prove ourselves worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Third, they have been proven faithful. Any person who is among the chosen will tell you of the grueling experiences they have endured as Christ has tested their faithfulness. God, our Father, is absolutely faithful. He wants us to be absolutely faithful no matter how low we have been brought and for how long.
They who will return with Christ and destroy the works of Satan are called, chosen, and faithful. These qualifications eliminate most of the believers of today, it appears.
Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” (Revelation 17:15,16)
The passage above tells me that the shared authority of the beast and Babylon over the peoples of the earth will come to an end. This is not surprising. These are wicked people, and they will not want to share their power with anyone.
So the beast and the nations finally will strip Babylon naked, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. “Eating her flesh” may mean the secular governments will seize control of those who had been part of Babylon.
This marks the end of the power of religious organizations in the earth.
For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled. (Revelation 17:17)
Did you notice how God controlled these ten kings, as wicked as they will be? This is one reason why we are not to fret ourselves when we see evil filling the earth. God always remains in control.
The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:18)
There certainly was a time when the Catholic Church had power over the kings on the earth. But there is something else to consider. Note the following:
Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed the lead cover down over its mouth. Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.
“Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me. He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.” (Zechariah 5:7-11)
I have believed for some years that the interpretation of the passage above is that all the religions of the world will get together. The city of Rome in Italy will not serve as a headquarters for the world religion. Rather the wickedness of religion will be brought to Babylonia, to the ancient site of the tower that was supposed to reach to Heaven. From that place, all the religious activities of the earth will be governed.
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.” (Revelation 18:1,2)
So it is with religion. Because Satan and his demons no longer have access to the Glory of God in Heaven, they infiltrate religion. This is easy to do because people are still self-willed. Only the people who are living in the rest of God instead of in their own plans and works are free from the demons and evil spirits.
For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. (Revelation 18:3)
Many of us today do not know of the relationships between the political rulers and the clergy. The young martyrs of Scotland come to mind. They chose death rather than accept the King of England as the head of the Church.
Even today we notice in Iran the power of the Muslim leaders, and then the political leadership. I am not certain which is going to prevail.
Who could estimate the value to the merchants of the practices of religion. In America the merchants count on Christmas sales to balance their accounts. Think of what the building of cathedrals has meant in terms of money; or the purchase of paintings; or the hiring of musicians!
“Excessive luxuries.” The local assembling of the early Christian centuries met in houses. Compare these unpretentious meeting places with the cathedrals of Europe. There is no need for such display of wealth. A massive cathedral does not glorify God, it only glorifies religion.
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;” (Revelation 18:4)
Every once in a while some sincere Christians, noting the irrelevance of numerous religious activities, cry out, “Leave the churches and meet in homes.” And assuredly there are home groups that are admirable.
However, the spirit of religion can be equally strong in a home group as in a large church. Sometimes when believers leave the large babylon and gather together in a home, it is a little babylon. Human beings are still in control.
So the answer is not to go to the big church or the little home group, the answer is to enter the rest of God where we are thinking, speaking, and acting in concert with the Lord Jesus.
I myself am an ordained pastor in a denomination. This is where God has placed me. Being pastor of the church the denomination has assigned to me has enabled me to write what I think God is showing me. God wants me to write, not to travel around. God has sent to our church people skilled in computers and software. Without their help I would be floundering.
Religion or the rest of God is a matter of the state of the heart, not of the environment.
For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. (Revelation 18:5)
Sometimes we feel like sallying forth in our own strength and wisdom and exercising vengeance on some of the wickedness taking place in our country. We are not to take matters into our own hands. God has perfect recall. Vengeance belongs to Him. Judgment will be brought about in God’s way and in God’s time.
Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. (Revelation 18:6)
I do not believe God is instructing us to attack the religious systems at this time. But there shall come a day in God’s will when the wickedness done in the earth shall be judged.
Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. (Psalms 149:5-8)
I believe the expression “on their beds” is significant. It tells us that we are to rest in God, when it is time for vengeance on the wickedness in the earth, and let Him do the work. We do the judging, and the angels carry out the sentences.
Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, “I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.” (Psalms 18:7)
This reminds us of the following passage:
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (II Thessalonians 1:6.7)
“I sit as a queen.” Notice the arrogance, which is characteristic of the spirit of religion.
I might mention that the Wife of the Lamb is not a queen. Her Husband is King of all kings; but she is not a queen.
Why is that? It is because she is an integral part of Him and can do nothing apart from Him. The queens of the secular nations are independent of their husbands, the kings. They have their own ambitions and following. They can rebel against the king, if they desire to do so.
The Bride of the Lamb is not independent of Jesus nor does she have her own following. She lives by His Life.
But this is not true of the spirit of religion. In too many cases the leaders of the Christian movements do not live by the Life of Jesus. They are independent of Jesus and many follow them who do not know the Lord at all.
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. (Revelation 18:8)
This is not, of course, referring to some small group of people who are worshiping Christ, but to the huge religious institution that worked together with Antichrist and the other kings to keep the populations of the earth in subjection.
When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!” (Revelation 18:9,10)
We do not customarily think of religion in such lofty terms. But consider how the world would change if all organized religion were removed!
The passages that follow points out the economic aspects of religion. It is surprising, I think, that so many verses are dedicated to this one issue. Perhaps money is more important to the spirit of religion than we understand.
Or, it may be that in the days in which we are living, as the will of man is made preeminent in the governments of the world, the massive religious organization that is on the horizon, that will embrace all the religions of the world, with its headquarters in ancient Babylon, will become exceedingly rich in material wealth.
The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more—cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men. (Revelation 18:11-13)
Notice that last statement—“souls of men.” That is the problem with the spirit of religion. While it uses the name of Christ, or whatever name other religions may use, religion draws people to itself. Sometimes there will emerge from religious activities an individual, man or woman, boy or girl, who knows the Lord Jesus and worships Him.
But in so many cases, all the people know is their religion. We see this portrayed in the Muslim religion, if there is the slightest hint that the Koran or Allah has been insulted. The reaction is vehement and deadly. This suggests that the believers worship the Koran and their religion, not God.
God is not bothered by the fumbling of human beings as they insult Him or any book that claims to be His words. He understands how confused we are most of the time.
To continue with the effect on the world and on merchants when organized religion is removed from the world:
They will say, “The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.” The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out: “Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!”
Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, “Was there ever a city like this great city?” They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: “Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!” (Revelation 18:14-19)
I have mentioned previously that the larger retail chains in America count on Christmas sales to keep them solvent. Added to this dependence on religion for sales would be the money spent on all the religious activities in the rest of the nations of the world.
Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you. (Revelation 18:20)
How has the spirit of religion treated Heaven, the saints, the apostles, the prophets? With rejection. With scorn. With burning at the stake, With imprisonment. With hatred. The Lord Jesus asked the Jews, “Which of the prophets did your fathers not kill?”
Then the crowning abomination of the spirit of religion: it killed the innocent Lamb of God, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord of the Christian people, the very Son of God.
Is it any wonder God sends such wrath upon organized religion?
Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. (Revelation 18:21)
The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. (Revelation 18:22)
Music has played a large role in the spirit of religion. But never again.
Trades people have been employed by the spirit of religion, such as in the building of cathedrals, mosques, and other houses of worship. But never again.
“Millstones,” being used in producing flour, may represent agriculture or even all kinds of manufacture. Never again will they be used for religious purposes.
The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. (Revelation 18:23)
The “light of a lamp” may represent scholarly pursuits. Religion has been accompanied by a considerable amount of scholarship. But never again.
“The voice of the bridegroom and bride” may refer to the working of religions in the home and social lives of people. Never again will this be true.
I like to think of “the voice of the bridegroom and bride” as representing the members of the true Body of Christ. Never again will any true Christian be found in organized religion.
The “merchants” of religion could be counted among famous people.
Religion, with its mystical charm, can lead nations away from what ordinarily would be practical and true. How many wars have been caused by religious beliefs! Yet, none of these was of God, even the Crusades, and shall never take place again.
In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth. (Revelation 18:24)
This does not appear to be true at first glance. It would seem that the pursuit of money has accounted for many deaths. But the meaning may be that religion, by its rejection of man’s personal and normal relationship with God, has allowed the spirits of war and murder to occupy so much of history.
Well, I have pointed to the evil that occurs when people, through organized religions, attempt to build their own staircase fo Heaven.
What is the true staircase to Heaven, so to speak.
The true path of eternal life is set forth in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. It is the “rest of God.”
God worked for six days, and then He rested. Everything was completed in that period of effort through to the new sky and new earth of the future.
Every occurrence of history; every person’s life; was set forth at that time.
This being the case, and there is plenty of Bible support for the concept of God’s foreknowledge and predestination, the primary task of every individual is to enter that finished work. This we do by abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Each person has a choice. He or she can plan his or her own life, or he or she can look daily to Christ to see what God has planned for the day. Little by little the believer is able to enter the rest of God in which his thoughts are the thoughts of Christ at that time; his words are the words of Christ at that time; and his actions are the actions of Christ at that time.
This does not mean the individual becomes an “empty vessel,” waiting to be possessed by Christ. That is a false rest and leads to passivity and deception.
Living in the true rest of God means we are going through our day, continually looking to Jesus; listening to Him; obeying Him; praying for guidance; asking for help with problems; giving thanks for the solution of problems; abiding in Him at all times, day and night.
To the new Christian this manner of living may seem impossible. Actually it is no more difficult than attempting to live by our own wisdom and strength.
In addition we practice the normal Christian life of setting aside time each day for prayer and Bible reading. If a fellowship of Christians is available we should gather together with them on a regular basis, using our gifts and ministries to build up our fellow members of the Body of Christ; giving of our means; serving in whatever way we can.
I always counsel people to find an assembling of believers they can gather with and worship and serve Christ. It is very dangerous in our day of demonic pressure to attempt to serve Christ without fellow believers.
However, the people who contact me through email are having difficulty finding a church that does not hammer on grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture. God’s people do not grow on a diet of lawless grace and the immediate “rapture” to Heaven of all who profess faith in Christ.
It appears to me that the current Christian preaching, being based as it is on the non-scriptural goal of going to Heaven to live forever in a mansion, is emphasizing ideas that are not found in the New Testament.
One of the main problems is the overemphasis on evangelism to the virtual neglect of feeding God’s sheep anything beyond the most rudimentary aspects of salvation. “Tell me the old, old, story,” but don’t go any deeper than that!
When we compare the spirit of religion, or organized religion if you will, with the rest of God, we see how stark the difference is. The first focuses our mind on the activities of the church. The second focuses our mind on Jesus.
We have just seen in the Book of Revelation that organized religion finally will produce a mammoth institution at the site of ancient Babylon, that will have its tentacles throughout the world. It will continue its efforts, however unknowingly, to turn our attention away from Christ and toward itself and its activities.
Babylon will govern the world along with Antichrist and the other kings.
But as they say, you never find two dragons in one locality because one dragon eats the other. So it is that the secular rulers will share power with Babylon for a period of time. But eventually the secular will prove to be the stronger dragon, and will administer the Divine judgment to Babylon.
Now will the true members of the Body of Christ shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of Their Father. Never, never, never again will the spirit of religion seek to take the place of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then, when the world sees the believers in a state of oneness with the Son and the Father, the people will forget about religion and will recognize that indeed it is the one true God who has sent His Son to be the Savior and King of mankind.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 18:22-27)
(“The Spirit of Religion”, 3593-1)