Summary: (PowerPoint Slides freely available by e-mailing Emile@Wolfaardt.com) Dealing with the spirit of religion so that Christ is glorified.
Journeying with John - It’s a Blast (JWJ-20)
When Religion Steals
Good morning! Today I want to start with something rather unusual - I want to identify a thief in our midst - I want to name this thief so you are no longer vulnerable to his attack, I want to expose him.
That thief’s name: RELIGION
As we pick up our study through the gospel of John, I invite you to open your Bibles with me to the fifth chapter - as together we explore “When Religion Steals.”
I have come to the rather sad but profound conclusion that one of the most insidious yet systemic problems facing the Church of Jesus Christ is the loss it has experienced at the hands of religion. Religion, I would suggest to you, or more correctly ‘false religion’ has stolen more from the Church of Jesus Christ than almost any other sin.
It is more damaging than doubt, more devastating than division, more subtle than self-centeredness and more saturating than sexual sin. It is has been the undoing or more ministries, shut the doors of more churches, endangered more believers, and damned more souls than any other sin I know of.
As a matter of fact, I would suggest to you that there is not a person here in this building this morning who has not been hurt by religion. There is not a one here who does not carry scars and shield pains that they have picked up under the harsh and unforgiving hand of religion. Each and every one here knows what we mean when we say ‘Religion Steals.’
So I thought I would talk a little this morning about these things - and then I want to run cross country back to Jesus Christ. You see, while satan has used religion to steal much from the Church, God’s answer to religion is Jesus Christ. And I would rather talk about Jesus, but let’s deal with our topic this morning and then flee back to Christ before we are done.
Please open your Bibles with me to the book of John, and the fifth chapter. I would like to read the next few verses as we star tout this morning - John 5:9-17.
Read John 5:9-17 - Pray
Now is this not amazing? This man had been paralyzed, or withered in his body for 38 years. For 38 years every time these people had seen him he had been lying on his mattress. For 38 years many had given him alms, some had perhaps even prayed for him. For 38 years they had pitied him and thanked God that they were not like him.
Well then one day they see him on the other side of a profound miracle that had supernaturally released the wonder working power of God into his life and the best they can come up with is, ‘who gave you permission to carry your mattress on the Sabbath.’ Now come on folks, what about a good old ‘yee-hah’ or a Pentecostal ‘Glory Hallelujah’? What on earth is that about? I will tell you what that is - that is the spirit of religion.
Let me tell you about this spirit. Go with me in your Bibles, if you will, to the book of Acts, Acts and the 16th chapter, and the 16th verse.
While you are turning there, let me remind you that God had commanded Israel unambiguously to not use divination or consult diviners. (Deut. 18:10).
During the days when Jesus walked the face of the earth there was a world influence that came out of a region about 75 miles north of Athens - from a place called Delphi. Delphi was a regional spirit of divination that was founded on the worship of Pythun. People came from all over the world to receive direction and revelation (how many of you know that is divination?) to hear the Oracle of Delphi, the utterances of Python. It was also the false demonic god of healing - I find it interesting that the medical world still carries the emblem of a snake as its international identification. The spirit of python is the inspiration for witchcraft and sorcery.
Python - ‘a spirit, which possessed certain persons and prophesied unknown to them through their mouths like a ventriloquist without control of the body.’
As a matter off act, there are times in Hebrew documents when the word serpent is translated, ‘to whisper a magic spell’
Why Python? The Python, not the anaconda, is the longest recorded snake in history.
Now here is the salient point - the way a python kills its victim is by control. It wraps its coils around the victim but does actually not It crush it’s prey to death - rather it suffocates it. It is a slow and painful process. Every time the victim breaths out the coils inch together - and it gets tighter and tighter until eventually there is simply no more room to breath in - and the victim suffocates.