Summary: Religious lies keep us spiritually defeated; God's truth sets us free.
A. Diane was an average Christian who grew up in a Christian home, was taken to church every time the doors opened and was taught all the do’s and don’ts of the Christian faith.
1. As she got older, church became less exciting and sometimes she even wondered if she was saved.
2. She finally went to a counselor, telling him God felt so far away and how it feels God hates her when she sins. She felt God’s love depended on her behavior.
3. When feeling this way, she hides from God by not reading her Bible, praying, going to church and by avoiding her Christian friends.
4. The counselor asked her a very important question; “Diane, has your Christianity ever been enjoyable or a source of comfort?”
5. Her answer, “No, never!”
B. Do you enjoy your Christianity? If not, it is possible you have succumbed to religious lies.
C. It is possible to tell religious lies, and it happens all the time in the most unlikely places. They come from parents, pastors, teachers and fellow church members. They don’t do it on purpose, but they pass on the misinterpretations and traditions they were taught. And while these may be the means, the source is Satan himself.
D. In our passage, Jesus has a discussion with the religious elite-those who should have known the truth about who he was and who they were.
1. Discipleship involves obedience, and he was the truth.
2. They claim heritage from Abraham and thinks this makes them secure and acceptable to God.
3. Jesus disputes their claim because they are not following him as Abraham did. He accuses them of being illegitimate children to which they maintain they are not born out of wedlock.
4. Jesus reminds them if God was their Father, they would love him because he comes from God. They on the other hand follow their father the Devil who is a liar and the father of lies-religious ones included.
5. You could not have been any more religious than these people Jesus talked with, but they were deceived by religious lies; we can be too.
E. When we live by religious lies, we will live defeated spiritual lives and Christianity will lose its joy.
F. Doug Moo said; “Our minds are stuck in a rut, a pattern of thinking that is antagonistic to the will of God. Successful Christian living depends on getting out of that rut and establishing another one that is characterized by biblical values and ways of thinking.”
G. Religious lies are difficult to dispel because of their source (they come from people we trust) and because they are taught as God’s standards.
H. Our spiritual well being depends on believing God’s truth instead of religious lies.
I. I Must Or Can Earn God’s Love (Ephesians 2:8-10)
A. Not only do some believe they must earn God’s love, the greater deception is thinking it’s even possible.
B. Grace by its very nature cannot be earned; it is a free gift of God.
C. We cannot earn what we don’t deserve and what by its very nature must be freely given.
D. Yet our world is filled with people who truly believe they must earn God’s love by their actions. When they stand before him, he is going to bring out the grand scales and weigh their good works beside their bad works and wherever the balance is heaviest will determine their eternity.
E. But if I cannot earn God’s love by my good works, then of what value are they?
F. They are proof of the pudding. While Paul says works without faith are useless, James maintains faith without works is useless as well.
G. They go hand in hand and one is a product of the other, but it is the faith that appropriates God’s love in a personal way resulting in salvation.
H. God may love all people, but he only enters a relationship with those who come through his Son by faith.
I. God’s love by its very nature is unconditional like a parent’s should be. His love is consistent and doesn’t waver based on our actions- good or bad.
J. I can be bad and he won’t love me less, but he also won’t love me more if I’m good. But the relationship is based on faith. Nor does this mean we shouldn’t strive for the good. Jesus says we prove the reality of the relationship by our obedience.
K. Failure to understand this can lead believers to feel God is angry at them all the time because they are not living a sinless life. God’s attitude is based on our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice not our behavior.
L. God doesn’t throw us away for mistakes any more than a parent does a child because they are not behaving as they should or were taught.