Most people wouldn’t think they are sinking in legalism until they are so far in that they lose sight of reality. When one disciples another in the faith, it should be important to teach how to recognize legalism before they get caught up in it. When a frog is placed in a pan of water and you heat it up slowly, it adapts to the water and doesn’t realize it’s being cooked to death. This is what legalism is like. It’s a trap that you don’t recognize when you step into it. Legalism is a deception and so subtle, that’s what makes it’s grip so powerful. The key to understanding how to recognize it is our best defense to not get caught up in it. When it comes to Christianity, it’s the difference between the Christian Religion and the Christian Faith.
Legalism will make you think you’re being welcomed, befriended, entering the “will of God” for your life, it seems like a nice fit, step by step guidelines to make sure you get it right and who wouldn’t want to make sure they’re practicing “Christianity” correctly? When one enters the Christian Religion, they will be informed of what is expected of them and how they can succeed as a “Christian”. You’ll be told to make a decision (convert), get baptized, join the church, and serve God in the church. Somewhere along the lines you’ll learn that you need to pay God a portion of your money and may be required or strongly ‘encouraged’ to take a “new believers” class. Doesn’t sound so bad, what’s wrong with that?
These are just some of the first steps to solidifying your membership in the religion. In the Christian Faith, we became members of the Body, in Christ. Christ does not require that we join a physical membership in order to be part of the community of faith. See the difference yet? It’s by faith that we come to realize that we already are members of the Body. It’s a spiritual Body that we belong to. You’re either a member of a religious community or a faith community, a spiritual Body or a physical Body (made up of several people).
Can a person of faith gather with like minded people and not become part of the Christian Religion?
In fact, just because you go to a church doesn’t mean you are following Religion, but it does increase the risk of falling victim to it. I believe many gathering of folks originally intended to be a faith community, but over time the religion found it’s way in to trap them.
If we look at a local ‘church’ as what it is, then it may seem clearer to you what I’m talking about. Any group of believers can rent or buy a building to use for all their gatherings, pot luck meals, activities, etc. There is nothing in the Bible that prohibits this. There is nothing in the Bible that would even suggest that there is anything wrong with this at all. Lets just look at it for what it is though. The scriptures are clear that the Temple is not made of bricks by the hands of men, it is spiritual Temple within ourselves.
1 Corinthians 6: 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
John 2: 18So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Understanding that WE are the “Church”, the Bride, the Body then we can gather wherever we want, but the place in which we choose to gather is not the Temple, the Church, or the Body, it is simply a physical location where the Body happens to gather.
Any group of people can pool together the funds needed to get a building, create an organization of people to take care of it, and they can legally (through a 501c3) and ethically ask for donations to help support it. This would become a community center for your group of believers.
Here’s where it gets tricky. The scriptures do not require that we become part of such an undertaking. It is optional. There is nothing in the scriptures to suggest that you are required by God to join a community endeavor like this, nor are you “cursed” for abstaining from it. It is simply a community center. To call it a “church” would be in violation of the scriptures presented above. The people are the Church, the building is just a building. Having a clear understanding of this is of great benefit to the freedom of a person’s soul. I’m not speaking about our eternal abode in the after life, I’m speaking of the condition of our soul in this life.
When a person who claims to be a spiritual leader tells you that you must:
- Join this “church”
- Fund it financially
- Abide by the requirements of the charter
- If you don’t, then there are spiritual consequences
Then they are twisting the scriptures and placing a yoke on you that is not required by God.
Here is what they CAN state:
- This is a community center for people who believe x,y,z.
- If you would like to become a member of this community center, we ask for a suggested donation to help take care of the building and the staff it takes to manage it.
- To participate in this building’s activities, we have a dress code to abide by.
Each community building may have more requirements than others and that is their prerogative. It is also your prerogative to deny joining such a membership. If you join such a membership, then violate their membership requirements, then don’t be surprised when you are either asked to leave, or shunned into leaving.
When people mistake their community membership club for the “Church” then they forget to love those who aren’t members there. They become to caught up in their program and in thinking the program and building are “God’s” that it becomes somewhat of a ‘castle complete with a mote and armed guards’ to keep unwanted people out and it’s citizens inside, isolated from the world around them.
They will make war with anyone they perceive as a “threat” to their little kingdom. They have created a religion within their own kingdom and it’s not the Kingdom of God.
Citizens of the Kingdom are spiritual citizens that reside on this earth and they have the freedom to gather wherever they want. They just might decide to become a part of a community center and that is certainly their free choice to do so. Just understand the truth of the matter and don’t get caught up in the web of deception that religion seeks to entrap you in.
Citizens of the Christian Religion may be comprised of people of faith and religious people as well. Understanding how these two types of people operate in their lives and in their kingdoms will help us get a better grasp on the things we see happening around us today. To stay updated on this series, please subscribe via email in the top right side bar.