I. Looking at religion you see so many do's and don'ts, thees and thous
- I want to believe in God, too many rules and regulations.
- What is the benefit anyway? Why should I follow a God when it really gets in the way of what I want to do.
There is a difference between being a Jesus follower, and religion.
II. Bad news about religion.
A. Religion focuses on the external, rather than the internal.
Matthew 23:25-26 - “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
- I make a list in my heart even though I don’t realize I am doing it. If I do these things and don’t do too many bad things, then maybe I will be right with God. Trying to close the gap with human effort.
B. Let me give you a little history that will help maybe bring some clarity to why Jesus was so upset.
- Around the second half of the 5th century bc, The religious leaders said we are in bondage because God’s people were breaking the law.
- To make sure nobody breaks the law, these well-intentioned religious leaders made 600 brand-new laws that became known as the fence laws. The Mishnah.
Matthew 23:1-4 - Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
III. the good news about Jesus
Romans 3:20 - For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. 21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
What is the good news about Jesus? Three simple thoughts.
1. You cannot earn God's acceptance by obeying the law.
- IT is flat out PRIDE to think you could impress God. No matter how many good works you do, or bad works you avoid, or how sincere your heart is.
- Scripture teaches you cannot be good enough to please God.
"Why in the world did God give us the law If we can't live up to it?"
2. The purpose of the law is to show you need of a Savior.
Romans 3:20 - For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
- Through the law, we become conscious of our own sin."
Romans 3:23 - For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
- This is why the law is so important. It actually shows us that all of us are sinners
- Until you see yourself as a sinner, you won't see your need for a savior.
3. Being right with God comes by faith in Christ alone.
- The way that we're made right with God is not by religious works, not by trying harder, but it's by trusting in the perfect work of Jesus, and that alone.
Romans 3:22 - We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
- Here is the greatest thing. It doesn't matter how bad your past has been. It doesn't matter how bad your present is right now. When you put your faith in Christ, your sins are forgiven, and you are made completely new.
- I'm going to tell you all day long you do not need religion. You need Christ and Christ alone. Not Christ plus good works. Not Christ plus religious effort. Christ and Christ alone!
IV. Religion has complicated what God made simple. It's always been simple.
A. God is a good good father.
- He knows what is best for us. He calls us to obey so that we can have life have it abundant and free. He wants to bless me. He wants me to be happy and he says its happier over here.
- Here where I can bless you. Because I love you. I don’t just want to save your soul but I want to save your life! I want to fill it with Joy!
B. Religion complicates with laws. Jesus simplifies with love.
- Jesus said, "Above all else, the most important thing is to love the Lord your God with everything in you, your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor just as you love yourself.
- "Wait a minute. What about those 600 ... That's a lot. What's the most important?" → "Love."
- If you have faith in Christ God has already accepted you. I choose to obey as act of worship to a God who saved me without demanding anything from me. I want to obey. I want to be faithful.
Psalm 37:4 - Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Religion has always complicated what God made simple. Love God with everything in you.
Philippians 2:13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
- What a good good God. Who gives you the opportunity to live for Him and then gives you the desire to do it and why? So, He can fill your life with joy.
Through Jesus and faith in him alone, we are declared righteous, robed with the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, I don't have to try to obey God with religious works to close the gap. I am a sinner who needs a savior. When I call out to the one who paid for it all God hears my prayers, I am forgiven, and I am clothed with the righteousness of Christ. me. Religion complicates what God made simple. Religion complicates with laws, but Jesus simplifies it with love.
Talk It Over
- Did you grow up hearing about a lot of rules in church? How do you think this shaped your view of God?
- Read Romans 3:20. What are some ways we expect people to follow the law to earn righteousness today?
- Do you live more like your rule-following makes you close to God or like Jesus makes you close to God? How does this play out for you?
- How have you experienced the undeserved grace of God in your life? Can you share something specific?
Start praying. Be bold, and pray with power.
Jesus, what You did to take the place of the law for us is beyond what we can possibly repay with our good works. Thank You. Instead, we want to give You our love and our life. Will You show us how to receive Yours? Amen.
Start doing. Commit to a step and live it out this week.
- Memorize Romans 3:22 this week. When you start to try to ward off fear and shame with rules or work, quote the Scripture and be motivated by God’s love.
- Is there anyone you’ve held to rules and law instead of love and grace? Reach out to them with the grace and love of Jesus this week.