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* (The Song – Old Time Religion) Singing this song evokes emotional memories of days past. Candidly, most of us affectionately remember ‘The Old Time Religion’ but we have difficulty authentically remembering ‘The Old Time Religion.’ The things we remember are ‘our favorite preacher’, ‘our favorite songs’, ‘our favorite church,’ and other such things. The obvious thing we forget is what made those memories and that “Old Time Religion” so great.
* What made “TOTR” so great was the enormous faith and commitment of the generation that is now past. They depended on God, spent time in His word, treated others like they wanted to be treated, & had faith that through Jesus a relationship God was indeed the answer for every situation. Furthermore, they lived out what they said they believed. The result was that we had a strong family unit, strong moral fabric which made our culture strong, and a strong country which was seen as the envy of the world. “Under God” was not simply two words in the Pledge of Allegiance, it was their way of life!
* In short TOTR was so great because people of that generation didn’t see it as much of a ‘religion’ as they did a ‘lifestyle.’ It was integrated in every part of their life. They would sing gospel songs as they went about their daily chores. They would refuse to let people get away with talking about others. (How many times did my Mammaw chastise me for speaking ill of someone else?) While not perfect, they seem to possess a deep understanding of what it meant to live daily for Christ. This is the OTR that we remember.
* I’ll submit that somewhere along the way, the ‘religion part’ became the priority while the ‘relationship part’ the problem. Somewhere along the way going ‘to’ church instead of being the church took center stage. It was at this point that the message of the gospel began to erode in this country. Without trying to be offensive, the ‘local Church’ became an idol to be protected as opposed to the Bride of Christ which is expected to be active. Anything which becomes more important than God himself is, by definition, an idol.
* Turn to James 1 and let’s read the last two verses of the chapter which deals with a topic that I tend to not ever mention, “Religion”. The placement of these verses is no accident. He has just finished saying, “If you only listen to the word of God, never acting on it, than you are self deceived.” Now, he raises the anti just a bit. Let’s read.
* This is one of those passages which, every time I read it, cause me to reflect on my life and evaluate my deeper motivation. hi
1. The Deception of Plain Religion – Plain religion is of man-made origins. God designed us with the desire to be in a relationship with Him. We have that innate desire. This is why in the darkest regions of the world, tribes have fashioned their gods made of wood. A religion which is manmade is, at best, distracting and at worst devastating. Deception is always devastating.
* Consider 3 attributes of plain, manmade religion.
a. It’s Unreliable- Plain religion is unreliable because it is untrue. And the person who believes in the validity of it sings a very familiar song—‘self deception.’ James begins with “If anyone ‘thinks’ he is religious.” The word ‘thinks’ speaks a picture of ‘seems’ or ‘gives the impression’ or ‘looks
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