Monday, January 5, 2015

Man-made Religion

Luke 18:9-14
"And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: (10)  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.  (11)  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  (12)  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.  (13)  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.  (14)  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

In this parable (illustrative story) the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us an essential truth about God, man, and religion (man's approach and relationship to God).  A Pharisee was a conservative Jewish religious teacher/leader.  A publican was a tax collector working for the occupying Roman government in ancient Israel.  As you may imagine the Pharisees were honoured by their countrymen and the publicans were despised.  Who men honour is not the issue about which our lives rise or fall though.  Who is the man that God will honour?

Two men; two different approaches to God.  The publican was heard by God!  The Pharisee was rejected by God!  The truth is, God sees things differently than we do.

The Pharisee had a religion of his own making and God would have none of it.  God will never bend to men's wills; men must bend to God's will.  Jesus said, "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself..."  Wow! The Pharisee addresses God with his mouth, but he is not praying with God; this man is praying with himself.  God is not involved.  What self-centred vanity.

What this Pharisee is doing--his type of religion--is unfortunately the norm amongst men.  Man-made religion, many times, even uses the name of the God of the Bible, the living real God.

Religion abounds.  Truth is rare.  God, through Paul the Apostle, describes the religious lost with their man-made religion in these words...

"For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
Romans 10:3

Yes, there are many gods which are nothing more than the imaginations of men's self-serving prideful and lustful hearts.  BUT! There is only one God who is real, true, and who created man, and was not created by man.  It is that God who has revealed Himself in the Holy Bible and through the sending of His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus, to be the Saviour of the world.  It is that God with whom you will one day have to face.

Are you sold out to the imaginations of your own heart?  Are you content with the facade of praying with yourself?  Do you honestly expect that God will just anything and everything--lies?

Or, will you seek the true and living God?  He will be found by those broken hearted ones who will face and obey the truth.

"God be merciful to me a sinner."
Luke 18:13

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