Faith versus religion or faith and religion? Which of these is the absolute? Does faith and religion work against each other? Or does faith and religion work side by side? In my finding on this topic I have found that in Matthew Chapter 23, Jesus put it plainly and direct what religion is and how it hinders the body of Christ. Jesus spoke in Chapter 23 to the crowd addressing on how the teachers of the Law and pharisees say and preach one thing about the law of Moses (Torah). Then do wrong in the eyes of God according to the law of what they preach as well as on the false testimony of the faith based on their actions. Jesus goes on to call them serpents, brood of vipers.
What it comes down to is that religion is a social and cultural system, which is based on rituals, practices and organizations founded on a faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. As well as Emunah which means trust in Hebrew. Faith also means to believe in something.
Faith and religion comes down to one foundational principle which is a foundational base which is righteousness. Romans 1:17 ESV states, For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” From the old to the new testament in the the Bible it is written what moves the heart of God. Among all those things what moves the heart of God. One of the most important one’s that pleases Him is the righteousness in the heart of a man or woman.
Whenever we read in the Bible about Abel, Enoch, Methusaleh, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Deborah, Elijah, Elisha, Esther, and John the Baptist. As well as many others one of their most important quality as an individual they had was righteousness.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.Mahatma Gandhi
Organized religion, rituals, and works to please will not move the heart of God. We must keep in mind and remember that God is the creator of the universe. Maker of all things visible and invisible. The one who created and formed the law of thermodynamics, the wind, and time. One does not have to be a religious person to realize that an Intelligent Designer created and programmed the universe, not evolution. (I encourage you to read Working with the Law by Raymond Holliwell.)
There are many who have left the church or left a congregation because the true faith in God was replaced by religion. When faith leaves a congregation so does the Holy Spirit including its manifestations. Then that leaves an open door to the opposite of what God represents. It opens the door for evil to manifest. Just as King Saul in the Bible had God on his side and for a season did what was right in His eyes. When Saul began to trust in himself rather than God, he began to screw up and do things that did not please God. God was mercy-full and gracious for a time. But the last straw was Saul’s rebellion in his heart.
In 1 Samuel 15:22-28 we read the following from the ESV version.
22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” 24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” 26 And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.1 Samuel 15:22-2
Once a humble, obedient man of faith, Saul had become an arrogant, disobedient king. Right after that incident the anointing that God placed on Saul and His spirit left him. Saul was then tormented by an evil spirit. For a while the king was restless until one of his servants found a harp player named David and was able to aid the king to give him great comfort thru his music he played with his harp. Because when he played the evil spirit left Saul.
What it comes down to is that God takes care of business specially with His church. He start out in love, mercy, and will warn one before a corrective action. Why does God do this? Because he is also the God of order. Right now the church is in a state of decadence and disorder, not all but the majority are. I believe the time is now of correction is at hand. Because the church has fine tuned religion to become the mechanism for man to please man in the eyes of man replacing faith in Christ. The lifestyle of seeking to discover personally God, living a righteous life, caring about ones neighbor, and doing what is right. Where did the christian lifestyle go?
One last thing I want to point out about is Prince Jonathan, King Saul’s son. Everyone in Israel knew what Samuel prophesied to Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22-28. Before Saul, Samuel lead Israel. Israel’s government was a theocracy. So everyone knew it was a big deal on what he told Saul because every also knew he was a true prophet of God. Jonathan knew of what has been prophesied of his father and took it to heart. When Jonathan met David and their bond grew he knew in his heart that God had chosen another rather than his father to be the next King of Israel. When he discovered that the anointing was on David, he did not retaliate against him for he knew that if God choose him how he could go against God if he is just a man.
The anointing that was once his father’s now is on David, but a much stronger one. It was the same anointing that enabled David to kill Goliath, and go against impossible odds in battles which he had seen first had in combat. He also took note that David married his sister Michal. He was family and his bond with David was of trust, honesty and deep admiration for each other. So when the time came when his father Saul wanted to kill David because of jealousy that he had the anointing to become the next King of Israel. Jonathan stood in the way to protect David just as David would have done for Jonathan when things got serious.
25 The king sat on his seat, as at other times, on the seat by the wall. Jonathan sat opposite,[a] and Abner sat by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. 26 Yet Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him. He is not clean; surely he is not clean.” 27 But on the second day, the day after the new moon, David’s place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” 28 Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, for our clan holds a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. So now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.” 30 Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32 Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. 34 And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.1 Samuel 20:25-34
At the end of the conflict between Saul and David. What ended up happening is that all of King Saul’s sons died in battle including Jonathan. When Saul heard what had happened he took his own life in the battlefield. The actions of Saul caused much harm towards his family. What one reaps one sows. David took it very bad the news specially about Jonathan. Before Saul’s jealousy got the best of him. Both him and David had a good relationship. He was also his mentor. (Saul should of taken to heart in a repentant humble way what God had told him because of his disobedience to Him he was taking away Israel from him)
17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.”1 Samuel 23:17
Years later David sought out and took care of Jonathan’s disabled son, Mephibosheth. David never forgot his vow to Jonathan. David told Mephibosheth to not be afraid. “I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul and you will always eat at my table” (2 Samuel 9:7). When Mephibosheth came before David he thought he was going to kill him and thought very low of himself. He was told lies during his upbringing about David.
To conclude religion goes no where and faith goes a long way in the eyes of God. Again faith and religion comes down to one foundational principle which is a foundational base which is righteousness. If in a christian who asked Jesus into their heart. If the fruits of the spirit are not present in that individual specially righteousness. Is he a christian? Can a christian call themselves a christian and at the same time do wrong and believe that God is on their side? Ask King Saul. Or ask King David when he intentionally tried to hide a wrong by killing another woman’s husband so he could have her?