Ephesians 6:12-13 Amplified Bible (AMP)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. 13 Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].
Imagine attempting to remain committed to doing the Lord’s will–allowing Him to direct the paths of your life–only to face opposition for no apparent reason other than the fact that He’s chosen you and you’ve chosen to submit to His will. Jesus (Yeshua) told us we’d have days like this: And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22 -KJV). Just last evening, after a wonderful day with the Lord, I experienced yet another reminder that A) the spirit of Jezebel is still among us and B) complete surrender to the Holy Spirit is the ULTIMATE weapon in this fight.
A few brothers and I were discussing the Word of God, and focus shifted to the word “religion” used in James 1:27 (KJV): Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. One brother wanted to argue (literally) we as Christians, he himself being one, are part of a religious structure and that pleasing God is reflected by “actions” such as “visit[ing] the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep[ing] himself unspotted from the world” as described in James 1:27. He was quite adamant about this position, even as other brothers around the table attempted to raise other possible points of view.
Something (let’s call it the Holy Spirit) within me spoke immediately stating: “God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.” Now, we all know those words come from John 4:24. I was able to continue by stating that “religion” oftentimes reflects established practices (actions), rituals, laws that may not reflect the Spirit of our Holy God. In fact, as the Lord spoke through me, I was able to say that I could literally give the shirt from my back to a naked brother or sister but have no true love or regard for that brother or sister. In other words, I could give the shirt simply to display to the masses how “wonderful” I am; I could give the shirt as a way of mocking the individual who needed it; I could even give the shirt disdainfully. In either case, the Spirit of God (Love) is not at the heart of the action, for we know that God is LOVE (see I John 4:8). So, what we have, then, is the religious PRACTICE of giving without the Spirit of God within the work. And what does God’s Word teach us about such “works”?
8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. [Ephesians 2:8-10]
If we truly hone in on the aforementioned verses we may see something quite interesting: God created us for His pleasure, His purposes with predetermined paths (yes, I know some like to argue against such notions…oh well!), and we are His workmanship (creation) created in Christ–Christ in whom we are to have FAITH (you know, the thing that PLEASES God: Hebrews 11:6) and through Christ we receive GRACE (John 1:17 and Romans 3:24). No where and I repeat NO WHERE within these scriptures do we see that religious practices (actions, works) determine one’s commitment to and/or devotion toward God. We are also able to see that it is faith in God, which is the support structure for our commitment to and devotion toward God, that moves us to specific works that the Lord Himself blesses. In other words, God’s spirit–through our faith in Him–must be at the heart of the works. Yes, faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Conversely, works not rooted in faith–faith in Jehovah God, Yahweh–may prove fruitless and/or destructive. As a result, we are, perhaps, to work (WORSHIP) to be committed to Him (FAITH) so that, through this commitment, we learn to hear Him, following His instructions and committing ourselves to the practices He blesses and desires only!
The Jezebel spirit revealed itself! I posed the possibility that perhaps the use of the word “religion” in James 1:27 was the result of translations/transliterations that have occurred over the centuries. Others agreed. The argumentative individual stuck to his guns by pointing back at what was printed within the passage. I then asked which version of the Bible he possessed, as I desired to check several versions to determine whether or not the word “religion” was presented across various translations. Indeed, it was; however, there were other versions that used the term “devotion” in place of “religion” within this particular passage. After this discovery, another brother repeated (as he had been saying all along) that we sometimes need to go back to the original language in which the scriptures were written. I agreed.
Now, as I prepare to close this moment of sharing with all of you, please know that I was even-tempered the entire time (as I truly have the Lord’s peace within me and have been BLESSED by Him to not become emotionally involved in such matters). In fact, when voices around the table seemed to have escalated even the slightest, the Lord had me to interject gently by re-focusing us on the Word and by reminding all that we were in no way debating.
So, we went to the Greek of this particular scripture and found that the closest translations reflected the terms worship and devotion, not religion…
CLICK HERE for Part 2 – https://fredrickstanleyblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/warring-against-spirits-not-people-part-2/