Part 1

Satan lacks the power to attack God frontally. He has already tried that and failed. Therefore, his attacks upon heaven have of necessity become more cloaked, guileful and illusory. He comes as and angel of light-posturing as a messenger of God. He loves to pass himself off as God. He has never taken his greedy eyes off God's throne. Lacking the might to tear down the purposes of God, he has turned to deceive man, God's most precious creation. The objective-to pass his counterfeits off as God's originals. The primary difference is that his perverted version has himself subtly woven into it. It will posses his character, his spirit, and will manifest his purposes. Christianity is not a religion. Satan loves religion, because it is powerless, and poses absolutely no threat to him. In fact I believe that religion is Satan's counterfeit for Christianity. As there is only "One faith," what then are all these other religions? Clearly religion is Satan's creation, as it does indeed possess the character of Satan. The name itself speaks of the bondage of hell. Here is how Robert Brinsmead defines religion:

What is religion? "Re" means "again"; "ligare" means "to bind." The work of religion is to bind man to God. As Paul discerned, the system of law (religion) served an important purpose (Gal. 3, 4). With the coming of Christ, however, God acted both to fulfill and to terminate this order. He fulfilled the goal of religion by uniting ("religioning") God and man in His incarnate Person.
When Christ shouted "it is finished," it announced that no longer was our existence to be defined by the religious categories of God (theology) and man; creator and creature, master and servant. Jesus tore those pillars down with his death. Now we are on a one on one relationship with God. We are friends now. The very pillars on which religion has been built were abolished.
To perpetuate religion in the face of the finished work of Christ is therefore but a manifestation of unbelief. In attempting to bind man with God, religion attempts to do (anti, "in the place of"; Christ) what was done already by Him. To continue to define human existence with the old categories of God and man is a fundamental attempt to perpetuate that which was terminated at Christ's death.

This I am certain is what our Lord referred to when he spoke so harshly to the religious aristocracy of His day.

You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: {or, from his own will or disposition} for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)

The characteristic nature of religion is murder. Cain killed Abel over an act of religion.

What Satan fathers will take on his disposition. Why were the Pharisees so murderous? It is because the father of their particular brand of religion was "the devil." They had been involved in the satanic conspiracy to reduce that which is God's to the level of a humanly governed institution. And in doing so they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man (Romans 1:23) It is the nature of the religious man to create a god after his own image-to drag God down to his level. But it is God's design as He has created us in His own image, to conform us into the likeness of His Son. Religion brings God down and corrupts His image. Faith in Jesus however, raises man up, restoring in him the true God likeness for which he was originally created.

Our destiny is to be conformed to the image of God's Son (Romans 8:29) Creation itself travails for this. (Romans 8:22) Paul also groaned in travailed for the children of God, that Christ should be formed in them (Galatians 4:19).

Contrariwise, everything fathered by Satan conforms to his will and temperament.

Jesus looked beyond the religious exterior to the heart motivations. He knew that beneath their beautiful outward appearance, the Pharisees like whited sepulchers were full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27) They were hypocrites acting out their religious role. (Matthew 23:27) Religious man is concerned with looking good outwardly-making a fair show in the flesh (Galatians 6:12). They mind earthly things (Philippians 3:19). They do indeed look good on the outside. But God looks on the heart.

If Jesus conducted a trial, to determine who is the father of today's church, what would be His verdict? Whose character does it bear His or Satan's? Would the words, "You are of your father the devil" once again be his reply? Would these words of Jesus ring as true today as they did in the first century? Would he address the contemporary church as good and faithful servants or a generation of vipers? I ask you, what does the weight of evidence imply? Don't be fooled! Such a trial is indeed taking place! Heaven is testing every man's work, and it will be manifest.

Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:13)

When Jesus and the disciples were walking out of Jerusalem just before He was crucified, the disciples called His attention to the glory of Herod's temple. Jesus was not impressed. He was not only NOT impressed, but He prophesied its destruction when He said, "See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Just as it was in those final days of ancient Israel, so is it today in the last hours of the apostate systems of men which now masquerade as the Church.

It is clear that we are living in the day wherein Christ will expose the sordid history of the fallen church for what it really is. For if His children are ever going to be free, and see the restoration of God's purposes, they must discern Satan's fraudulent copies, and turn from dead religion to the living God as was His purpose 2000 years ago in the destruction of Jerusalem. They must turn from the counterfeits to Christ. They must detect every replacement for Christ, and forsake it for that which is True. It is all about trading up to Jesus-thus the term Un-Replacing Christ.

Now let us listen in as Paul warns the Corinthian believers about this great satanic rip off. Listen as Paul exposes Satan’s plot to take or fill the place of Christ with his counterfeits.

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-you may well put up with it! (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, NKJV)

Putting up with:

Another Jesus
A different spirit
A different gospel

Another Jesus

The entire offensive strategy of Satan can be summed up in one word, and that word is antichrist. Antichrist is a compound word consisting of Anti-an-tee' which means over against, opposite to, before, instead of, in place of (something), and Christos--The Messiah or anointed one. The word antichrist implies much more than Satan's contentious and combatant posture toward Christ. It manifests a diabolic plot. It is a spirit absorbed and driven by an ambition to replace Christ-to sit in His stead-to counterfeit the Anointed One. The first century apostles had been taught by Jesus himself that this antichrist spirit would manifest itself through those who would later come saying, "I am Christ" or "I am the anointed one" (Matthew 24:5 and 23) And with only the passing of a few years after Christ's resurrection and ascension, the apostle John could clearly see that the spirit, ambitious to replace Christ, was now already in the world.

And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:3)
"Its here," said John. "The spirit which you heard would come--the spirit of antichrist."

From John's day until now, this perverse spirit has infected and affected the historic flow of events throughout church history, taking on bolder and bolder manifestations-more overt and militant. What was once cloaked and illusory is now played out in broad daylight, and none could stop it. Little by little Christ was being replaced, and the Holy Spirits voice was silenced in preference of the rhetoric of men.

It is important to note here that the title "Vicar of Christ" given to the Pope comes from the title "Vicarius Christi" used by Emperor Constantine. "Vicar" means "a substitute." Thus, the title "Vicar of Christ" means "a substitute for Christ" or in His stead. Consider this quote from Pope Pius XI,

"The priest is, indeed, another Christ, or in some way, he is himself a continuation of Christ."

Catholics believe that every priest is an "alter christus." And while not recognizing the priesthood of all believers, they separate the people into two classes, priests and parishioners. Within this framework the priest's logical place is between the parishioners and Christ. So in the creation of a special ruling caste of ministers, the Clergy, there is the reduction of the rest of the congregation to the status of poor lowly laity, inferring the unwashed masses. Satan knew that this dichotomous state would effectively set the stage for a mass replacement of Christ. He would replace Christ with other mediators-with vicarius Christs or as they are often called vicars. In one- fell swoop he would replace the priesthood of believer and Christ. How would he do it? Enter the clergyman, the new and improved substitute for both Christ and His true priests--the priesthood of all believers. The clergyman would shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, hindering any who would dare to pass, running interference between God and man and quickly killing all that would dare relate directly to Jesus.

Priest as Alter-Christ

This illustration from a Catholic publication clearly displays their priestly paradigm. You will note that they have many mediators between God and man. There is Christ who is depicted as wearing their priestly vestments, making intercession in heaven. Immediately below him are the earthly priests, who intercede between Christ and the people. And below them are the faithful and subservient parishioners, who relate through the ordained priesthood.

I, Michael, was raised in this system. I spent years being trained up in "the Faith," as it is called. Part of that training was on how to and to whom to pray. I was told that there are many intercessors, different ones had different purposes. For instance if one was lost or taking a trip we were to pray to Saint Christopher for our safety. He in turn went to Jesus and handled our petition. I was also told that I could not pray directly to the Father (there goes the Lord's prayer), because He only heard Jesus' prayers. In fact it was questionable that Jesus would even hear my prayers so it was better to pray to Mary His mother, because the Son always listens to His mother. Now there is even a move afoot to make Mary the co-redeemer equal to Christ.

Now Protestants are quick to throw stones at such activity, calling it blasphemy. The very idea that anyone would replace Christ as the sole mediator between God and man is preposterous. However, they do not realize the very practice of the traditional pastor originates in the roman priesthood. They are blinded to the similarities between the two. "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone" (John 8:7). It is time to pull the log out of our own eye.

The Great Reformation sought to restore to the Church to the simplicity of faith in Christ alone for salvation. They put the scriptures in the hands of the believers, thus opening to the common man the ability to confirm God's word for themselves. So doing, many once again found their Shepherd's voice in the written word. But with all these wonderful changes the reformation did not go far enough. That papal system of a special priest class and the need of special buildings for worship still remain intact.

The traditional pastor may just as effectively serve in replacing Christ, as does the vicar. Both serve as mediators through whom all things coming from and going to God must pass. He still is the hub of all church activity. Little goes on without his personal supervision. "I will run this by my pastor" is the common phrase of those who have been rendered incapable of making their own decisions. This is due to years of yielding their right and responsibility as priests and intercessors before God. This constant intermediary interference is the distraction that continues to block the path to the Lord-obscuring Him with other christs. Jesus said,

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. . .and there will be one flock with one shepherd. (See John.10:14-16, NLT)

This brings us to the often-asked question, "Who is your covering?" The Protestant concept of covering is an offshoot of the papal teaching on apostolic secession. Were it not for a 1000 years of papal conditioning we could have never bought this deception. Both vicar and pastoral covering effectively reduce the believer to a vicarious relationship to God. Worshipping God second-hand, through these ordained priests and ministers, who by their very positions "shut up the kingdom of heaven against men." The parishioners or laity are taught to receive nothing that is not first approved of by the priest or pastor. As the priest is a mediator stationed between the people and God, so is the pastor or covering. The ones who refuse to submit to this covering are said to be rebellious. And it is also very clear that this system of accountability was the creation of man for the purpose of controlling the masses in the name of God.

It is interesting that the whole teaching of coverings is brought up by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth. Here in chapter eleven, Paul explains that "every man praying or prophesying with his head covered, dishonors his head." He goes on to say, "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God." However, the boldest statement against this false doctrine is in verse three, where Paul says, "But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ. . .and the head of Christ is God." Again we see that there is only ONE Mediator between God and mankind, and that is Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).

Religion would make it rebellion to relate directly to Christ. In man's opinion you simply cannot do that without a covering. O dear Christian, if you have not as yet joined the illustrious fraternity of "heretics" who would dare to relate to Christ directly, you are living far below your rightful place as joint heir in Christ.

Neither Jesus nor the apostles taught that any man should be our covering. In fact, Paul and his fellow workers were not demanding at all, but instead appealed to "every man's conscience in the sight of God" (Corinthians 4:2). In this he shows that he in not usurping that unity and bond between the believer and His Lord. Paul also wrote regarding matters of conscience that every man should be "fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5). The essence of faith is that every man must be connected to God himself without any human interference.

When leading men, you can insist that they follow your instructions to the letter. This is done on every level of society and men follow the letter of the law. However, this does not bring about a heart-felt obedience, but one that is totally external. You often see this as you drive your car. The sign says, "Speed Limit 55" and every other car is going 65+. These other drivers are not convinced of the legitimacy of the posted speed. They have not been fully persuaded in their minds. For one to follow His Lord in heart felt obedience, there must be a heart change which comes from a relationship with God alone, taught of Him and not of men. Without this direct heart connection to the will of God, being fully persuaded by Him, any effort to obey is presumption not faith. Any action taken, that is not the result of a mans faith between himself and God, having been persuaded in his heart is not of faith and accordingly misses God's mark. To force a premature obedience, before the individual has fully resolved the issue in his heart before God, is to damage their conscience. And the one forcing the external obedience is destroying another with their meats.

If a man has a human mediator that is dictating the will of God to him, he will not be fully persuaded, for with this kind of obedience there will be a corresponding lack of grace that is necessary to obey fully. Grace is a gift that comes from God alone and not from men. Only God can change a man's heart and thus change him into the likeness of Christ. Many have been remodeled into the image of a man whom they obey as a result of this false covering, but our only model as a believer is Christ.

It is between God and the individual as Paul so well points out, "Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God" (Romans 14:22). Paul went on to say, "For whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). Every man is to have faith, and to have it to himself before God. It is only logical then that every one of us shall give account of himself to God. There will be no excuses, no one to blame for leading us astray. We cannot blame it on Pastor so-and-so who said such-and-such. It is our responsibility to try all things, to test the spirits. For we are charged with the responsibility to work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12 ). If we live, we are to live unto the Lord; for "it is in Him we live and move and have our being." If we die, we are to die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's (Romans14:8). Our life is to be lived unto the Lord, not to, or through man. Paul wrote I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus" (Romans 14:14). Paul had this to say to the busybodies of his day whom he said look down on another Christian.

So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say,"'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.'" Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God (Romans 14:10-12 NLT).

We see by the passage above that every believer is personally and directly accountable to the Lord, and will one day stand to give an accounting. This accountability is the only one with which we should be concerned. This is why in verse four of the same chapter Paul cleared up the whole issue of accountability by writing, "Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord's power will help them do as they should." Now tell me, does that seem alien to today's notion of accountability?

In comparison, the Pope, who was thought to be infallible, was considered to be the rightful "director and judge of all consciences." And regarding the resulting abuses of this J.A. Wylie wrote,

But what action is it that does not involve duty? There is nothing a man can do,--scarce anything he can leave undone,--in which the interests of religion are not more or less directly concerned, and in which the Pope has not a pretext for thrusting in his direction. He can prescribe the food a man is to eat, the person with whom he is to trade, the master whom he is to serve, or the menial whom he is to hire. One can marry only whom the priest pleases; and can send one's children to no school which the Pope has disallowed; he must be told how often to come to confession, and what proportion of his goods to give to the Church; above all, his conscience must be directed in the important matter of his last will and testament. He cannot bury his dead unless he is on good terms with the Church.

Does this sound familiar to you? This is some of the very same language used in the discipleship movement of the 70's and 80's. They were also told who to marry when to take their vacations and whether they could take their wives to a movie and what they could spend on popcorn. They were even told where they could send their children to school. As the words shepherding and discipleship have fallen into disfavor, due to the abuses of this movement, we have today the same deception wrapped in a new buzzword, accountability. If your relationship with God is not powerful enough to produce correct living, then no amount of human accountability will help. If His grace has not effected our wills, and we do not love Him enough to obey Him without man looking over our shoulders, what kind of salvation is that?

But didn't Paul tell the senior members of the Ephesian church that the Holy Spirit had given them the authority to govern over other members? Didn't Paul say, "over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers"? (Acts 20:28) The Greek word en translated over in this passage is incorrectly translated. En occurs 2782 times in the New Testament and is nowhere else translated over. Why? Someone wanted to justify their erroneous right to rule over the heritage of God. The preposition en is correctly translated among, in, by, or with. It can never rightly be translated over. The first century elders were among, not over. They knew nothing of being a man's covering.

For over 1900 years now, we have seen the characteristic tendencies of this spirit of antichrist played out in the global trading down from Christ to religion. We see the spirit of antichrist at work substituting another Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel.

The ones Paul accused of preaching another Jesus were those Christians of the first century known as the Judaizers. The Judaizers would not give up their identity, and national pride as God's keepers of the law. Therefore, in order to justify their religion, they had to create a christ in keeping with their own religious views. Religious man has created a picture of Christ as conquer-austere and frightful. They have created a christ in their own image, reflecting their own ambitions. Christ's servanthood, being the most powerful argument against tyranny, was hidden in order to justify their control and subjugation of others. Accordingly they depicted a ruling Christ in order to justify their own despotism. In order to exalt themselves they had to distort the example of Christ and redefine His purposes by the creation of doctrines in which their supposed right to reign was strengthened. This is why the so-called "Christian art" of the early papal era rarely if ever, portrayed Christ as a servant.

These Judaizers that Paul accused of preaching another Jesus were not content with the humble, serving messiah, which in fact was offensive to them. They tended to ascribe to the messianic consensus of the day. Theirs was a conquering Messiah, and it is an irrevocable law, you will take on the likeness of the Christ you see and serve. These men served a religious, controlling, legalistic christ--another christ--a christ that leads one into bondage, not freedom. Theirs was a christ that struck fear in the hearts of man, leaving them trembling at the foot of the mount, as it was with the children of Israel in the wilderness. We will cover this in more detail later, but for now it suffices to say that fear is the fueling principle of religion. It leaves man cowering before a vengeful God.

A Different spirit

The Greek word for spirit is pneuma, meaning "The wind" or "breath." The spirit," like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and yet powerful. Although you cannot see the wind itself, you can see its effect. Invisible the wind is the most powerful force in nature. Likewise the Spirit of God is invisible and immeasurably powerful, andnd the effects thereof unfathomable. Spirit is what inspires, animates a thing. And so in a real sense actions manifest the spiritual nature of a thing. Pneuma also speaks of purpose, and aim. (2 Cor. 12:18)

Pneuma, is what enlivens a thing, resulting in corresponding thoughts and actions.

As the fruit of the Holy Spirit is "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23) So this different or counterfeit spirit has its own fruit. Every spirit has its own fruit, holy or unholy. The fruit of the different spirit is bondage, fear, pride and tyranny. It is expressed in the ambition for conquest-to bring others under fleshly control. But where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17) I believe that Christianity today lives, by both the Holy Spirit, and a different spirit. Resulting in a kind of Dr. Jeckyl, Mr. Hyde brand of Christianity. One moment all is love, joy, and peace, and the next-fighting, pride self-exaltation, and abuses of every form. In short, all hell breaks loose.

It is all too easy for Satan to thwart the work of God, through individuals who are driven by a different spirit. Someone will inevitably rise up with design to bring the work into the bondage of their control-to lead away disciples after themselves. Taking that which belongs to God and others and squander it upon their lusts. And lastly, they will smite you in the face if you attempt to correct the situation. This other spirit is a spirit of conquest, using fear to control and impel- fear of reprisal-fear of rejection. Any attempt to encourage action through fear is not in keeping with God's plan for obedience. God himself will not violate the wills of man, for in doing so he would violate a basic principle of love. Love solicits a willing response-a response unencumbered by the threats of fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Fear has torment, and it was never God's design to torment man into obedience-but to give us another Spirit eager to obey-the Spirit of His Son, crying Abba Father--Daddy, dear Daddy! He has given us the very Spirit of His Son-not a spirit of fear, but of love.

For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:15)

The spirit of bondage and fear, or different spirit is used by religious men who do not hesitate to chain and bind, even using as their motivation the threat that God will get you if you don’t comply. Using and abusing the name of the one that loves us so much that He gave His only Son. How dare we use His name to threaten people into compliance, depicting Him as angry and eager to meet out retribution! According to the author of the book of Hebrews we are to "consider one another to provoke (incite) unto love and to good works" (Hebrews 10:24). We are to foster love not fear. This is why those moved to action by this “\different spirit must preach another christ--one more stern and demanding, commanding the response of fear. Fear is the motivation for all earthly government. (Romans13:4) However love is the constraining factor in the kingdom of God-a love that casts out fear.

There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18) Furthermore, love that has matured or is full-grown casts out or displaces fear. The one, who fears, has not experienced loves perfection. God's love even overcomes the greatest fear of all-the fear of death.

It is a love that totally displaces even the basic instinct of self-preservation To the point that those so motivated would willingly lay down their lives for each other. It is clear that this different spirit here referred to by Paul, is the same spirit of conquest which fueled the inquisition. Jesus warned the disciples regarding the spirit that inspired the religion of the Pharisees, saying, "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yes, the time is coming, that whosoever kills you will think that he is doing God a service" (John 16:2).

It was that very spirit that drove Saul of Tarsus.

For ye bear with a man, if he bringeth you into bondage, if he devoureth you, if he taketh you captive, if he exalteth himself, if he smiteth you on the face. (2 Corinthians 11:20, ASV)
Brings you into bondage-under their control
Devours-wastes your substance--greed
Takes you captive--theft of freedom itself
Exalts himself-pride--antichrist spirit
Smites you on the face--tyranny

Here we have described some of the characteristics of this different spirit.

It is a spirit of conquest. A spirit which brings one under the control of the dominate leader. Much like a wolf pack. This different spirit squanders through greed. It is a spirit that uses people, and possessions. It is a spirit of self-transformation, as the messengers of this spirit transform themselves, in the same manner that Satan transforms into an angel of light.

It is a spirit of theft--taking what belongs to another.

The word takes (lambanw lambano lam-ban'-o) means "to seize, to lay hold of, apprehend and take by craft (our catch, used of hunters, fisherman, etc.), to circumvent one by craft and fraud." How do you catch a fish? Let's take fly-fishing for instance. A fisherman's fly is carefully tied to replicate a real fly, the kind that the fish is accustom to eating. The artificial fly looks good but it is deadly if you are a fish.

For you allow it, if a man brings you into bondage to himself, if a man squanders and wastes your substance, striping you of your goods. If a man, procures for himself what is yours, claiming it to be his own. If a man lifted up with pride raise up, exalting himself on high, if a man smite you on the face. (2 Corinthians 11:20, our own translation}

A Different gospel

We find certain key words and phrases within the letters of Paul, which reveal the nature of this different gospel. Referring to those false apostles who heralded this different gospel, Paul made this interesting statement: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13).

The difference between religion and Christianity is who is doing the transforming. Religion depends upon the discipline of the will to change. Paul called it will-worship, implying that it originated in the will of man. But in true Christianity change is the result of the Spirit of God conforming us into the likeness of His Son.

Paul asked the Galatian believers this probing question, "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?" They had been bewitched into accepting a form of godliness, and denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). Religion is man-powered, not God-powered.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Christianity is God from beginning to finish. He is the one that started the work in us, and he must finish it. It is as for beyond the capacity of man as is the creation and maintenance of the universe. If man could save himself perhaps he could sanctify himself. If man was the author of his conversion, then maybe he could be its finisher and perfecter thereof. (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8) He is the one by whom all things consist (Colossians 1:17). Paul knew this, so he did not meddle in God affairs. Instead Paul's speech betrays a faith in God's workmanship, to the point of him committing those believers he so dearly loved into the creative hands of the one who not only formed, but also holds all things together--the finisher. Paul repeatedly expresses his faith in the author and the finisher. In writing to the Church a Corinth, Paul knew that he was addressing a troubled assembly. He knew that there was division and immorality afoot. He must even correct a brother for having sex with his father’s wife. Now knowing all this, how then does Paul begin a letter to such a Church?

That in every thing you are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:5-8)

Where is Paul's faith? It is in the faithful one. God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (verse 9).

Paul knew that in spite of their many problems, the church at Corinth was none the less in the hands of the Author and Finisher.

If such problems existed in one of today's ultra-institutional churches, it would be shut down in a blink. But Paul knew that it was God who gave the increase, and it was He who would establish their hearts in holiness.

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. (1 Thessalonians 3 12-13)

In his final meeting with the elders of Ephesus, Paul warned them regarding the coming apostasy, and then said a tearful goodbye to those whom he so dearly loved. Knowing that he would never come this way again he said, "I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32).

We are his workmanship. We do not transform ourselves. We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works and even those are not of our own choosing. They are works "which God has before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God (2 Corinthians 3:5). "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

So what will it be, self-transforming religion, with its "touch not, taste not, handle not" will-worship, or trust in the author and finisher? If we do not have faith in the author and finisher, we cannot help but meddle in His affairs. We will labor under the illusion that our steadying hand is necessary.

When King David went to bring up the ark of the Lord, they carried the ark of God on a new cart. The driver of the cart was a man named Uzza. Now David was excited and he and all Israel with a full orchestra played and sang with all their might before God. Finally they arrived at the threshing floor of Chidon, where the oxen stumbled, and Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark.

The Lord's anger was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him. Why? Because he put his hand to the ark(1 Chronicles 13: 7-10). This brought an end to the festivities. There is much to be learned from this. They were not to be carrying the ark on a cart in the first place. It was to be borne on the shoulders of the priests. Secondly, Numbers 4:15 warned the Levites when they carrying the holy things they were not to touch any part of it lest they die.

But now let us consider this on a more personal level--what this means to us individually. How should we then live? Most Christians don't realize it but most religious observances were added as religious fillers in times of Spiritual declination. They had to do something when they got together.

As the church gradually traded faith and trust in Jesus for systematic theology, likewise the same deceptions if embraced by the new Christian will result in the same apostasy on a personal level. As they enthusiastically embrace the long list of does and don'ts presented to them as the way of obedience, not realizing that it is the thief that will, little by little, take and fill the place of intimate communion with Christ. Thus begins the trading process--the replacing of Christ with religion. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8) Where they once trusted in Christ alone for salvation, now they trust in their own righteousness, as measured by their new standard of adherence. Where once they presented every quest and request to Christ, now they seek their solutions from the professional replacements of Christ-men who are trained to vend the answers they seek. Once they heard the Spirits voice revealing Christ as the way, the truth, and the life. Now they are involved in concerns regarding the way the truth is done, and the hope of finding life by the doing. Once it was enough to withdraw to a quiet place and commune for hours and days on end. Now they cannot rest until they are surrounded with noise, religious noise-the clamor of the religious machine. They can no longer abide solitude, for they have lost touch with the calming reality of which Christ spoke when He said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Consequently when they are not in a crowd, they are lonely. They have traded Gethsemane, for Vanity Fair-communion for commotion.

Most Christians look back to the early days, just following their conversion, with fondness. They were days of wander-days of intimate communion with Christ. Waves of peace and joy flooded their beings. The weight of sin they had carried all their lives was lifted and they felt a lightness, and buoyancy, which elevating them above the temporal plain. The realities of heaven were more substantial than was the material, and earthly. When I asked my wife Charlotte, "What were those early days like for you?" She said, "It was like being in love for the first time." And she is right. Many, in remembering those early days, look back with a sense of puzzlement. Why? Why can't we have that kind of relationship with the Father all the time? In expressing this desire for uninterrupted communion with Christ, and my grief that it was no longer a reality in my own life, a dear misinformed sister answered my quandary something like this. "Then you were a baby in the Lord, and required a lot of pampering. But now you are growing up and must walk by faith not feelings." By this I learned that it was childish to love and revel in the presence of the lord. I even felt guilty for secretly desiring it. I watched with jealous eyes, as others entering the kingdom expressed the joy and wonderment, which I secretly coveted. But I am no longer a baby, I thought, I must put away such childish things. I remember some of the older ones commenting on these young zealots, saying, "Just give them some time, they're on an emotional high right now, but they will come down, and join in the program with the rest of us." And as I watched, that is exactly what happened. Before long the gleam in their eyes was gone. And the jubilant expressions of joy were quelled, as their faces took on the listless look, which I had seen as characteristic of the "mature Christian." The more they joined in the program the more spiritually lethargic they became.

As their capacity for life, joy, and mystery, was slowly replaced by the disciplines of systematic theology, their childlike wonderment correspondingly declined. We had been led away captives and we didn't even know it.

So much for the problem! What is the answer? How do we un-replace Jesus?

The answer is Christ! Christ plus nothing! He is not the figurehead of Christianity. Christ is Christianity! The answer is not just truth about Him, but Christ HIMSELF. HE is the way, the truth and the life.

I often hear people say, "I wish I could get hold of Divine Healing, but I cannot." Sometimes they say, "I have got it." If I ask them, "What have you got?" the answer is sometimes, "I have got the blessing", sometimes it is, "I have got the theory"; sometimes it is, "I have got the healing"; sometimes, "I have got the sanctification." But I thank God we have been taught that it is not the blessing, it is not the healing, it is not the sanctification, it is not the thing, it is not the it that you want, but it is something better. It is "the Christ"; it is Himself. How often that comes out in His Word-"Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses", Himself "bare our sins in his own body on the tree"! (A. B. Simpson, Himself)

From dead works to "Christ in you"

Repentance simply means to turn and go the other way. To cease from one thing, embracing another. Repentance from dead works is nothing more that turning from dead religion-the powerless form of godliness, to the living God. It is to trade up from religion for Christ. It is to cease from will-worship that is grounded purely in the rudimentary disciplines of the flesh, and to embrace the Person who is himself salvation. It is to know Christ as our all and all. It is to understand that wisdom is not an it. It is Jesus. Righteousness is not an it. It is Christ. Sanctification is not an it. It is He. Redemption is not an it. It is union to the person of Jesus Christ.

But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories let him glory in the Lord. (1Corinthians 1:30-31)

Religion is you living for God-Christianity is Christ living in and through you. Religion is man working for God; Christianity is God working in us to will and to do. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) We are led away captive when we are bewitched from the reality of Christ living in and through us--from He Himself being our life to a systematic, liturgical, and creedal attempt at meriting life through our doing.

Jesus, in a prophetic glance into the future, foresaw the state of those who would refuse to trade their religion for the knowledge of Himself.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? (Matthew 7:22)

The Lord's response to these men/women who by today's standard would be looked up to as Spiritual giants is shocking. They had been involved in the work of the Lord.

They came bringing results, but they did not know him. They had forgotten, or sadder yet had never known that Christianity is about nothing else but knowing Christ. It is about knowing Him, being conformed to his image. It is not about our doing all the right things. It is the sad tail of those who are doing all the right Christian things, and are not engaged in the only legitimate pursuit in the Kingdom of God. It has nothing to do with my ministry, my doing.

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:23)

I never knew you? You mean these men who came saying, "Lord, Lord," men who, prophesied, cast out devils, and had done many wonderful works in Christ's name, did not know Him? Paul's consuming passion was to know Christ.

It was his goal, to reach the prize of this high calling. He counted all things--his righteousness, his pride in his religious achievements--but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus." Paul counted his religion as dung in order to win Christ (Philippians 3:8). Regarding the pursuit of knowing and winning Christ Paul went on to write, Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing you are otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you" (Philippians 3:15). It is not acceptable to be otherwise minded. If you are God will reveal this unto you. It is not acceptable to opt for the superficiality of religion over knowing Christ. It is not acceptable to reduce Christianity to the status of religion, as though that which pleased him most is our business. It's all Christ! "Christ in you is the hope of glory!" It is all about the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. All correct doing flows from an intimate knowledge of Christ. They that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits (Daniel 11:32). God has extended His hand of intimacy, and has rent the middle wall of partition. So that by the blood of his Son we might come beyond the rent veil into his presence. But many prefer to play in the outer court. They love the symbols and ceremonies of religion. They choose the shadow rather than the substance, the ritual over the reality, which is Christ.

Repent of the human bent toward irresponsibility.

Acknowledge that you have rejected God's government in your life by your preference of human government (see 1 Samuel 8:19-20). Know that the abdication of you your God given responsibilities to men was very likely done because of an inordinate desire for their approval and acceptance. Ask the Father if this is true of you.

Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice." Do you hear his voice? If not, don't settle for anything less. Shut yourself in with God, just you and Him alone, until you hear from heaven firsthand.

Many Christians do not hear Christ's voice for the religious noise around them. And if they are searching for Him, they are looking in all the wrong places. Revivals, guest speakers, seminars, special meetings, elite training class, and oh yes, lest I forget, bible collage. Youth retreats, adult retreats, retreat retreats. They are in the middle of every religious activity in town, and planing a few of their own.

But as it was with Elijah, the LORD was not in the strong wind even though it "rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD." Neither was the LORD in the earthquake or the fire. But Elijah heard a whisper, a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). The whisper cannot be heard in the hype and whirlwind created by the flapping of our own wings. His voice cannot be heard over the noise of the earthquake. It is not to be found in flash, fire, and smoke of religion.

O dear Christian, fall on your face and don't get up until you have heard from God firsthand. Wait upon Him, resisting the temptation to run to man for the answer and you will mount up with wings as eagles. It is worth your while to wait upon the Lord.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Come boldly before God's throne.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Jesus has purchased the right of direct access on our behalf. We may enter by His blood, and His merit, not our own. It is the responsibility of all believers to approach God as intercessors for themselves and others.

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Test yourselves and find out if you really are true to your faith. If you pass the test, you will discover that Christ is living in you. But if Christ isn't living in you, you have failed. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus. (Ephesians 4:21)
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

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