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  • Writer's pictureJulie Balducci

Religion or Relationship?

1 Corinthians 15:55- 57 TPT “So death, tell me, where is your victory? Tell me death, where is your sting? It is sin that gives death its sting and the law that gives sin its power. But we thank God for giving us the victory as conquerors through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One."

The Mosaic Law was created to tutor man on what sin is (Galatians 3:24, Deuteronomy 28). It became man's curse because man could not fulfill the law's obligations (Galatians 3:10-14). The law, in essence, gave sin its power because without the law man did not know what sin was. For example, how do I know that I am speeding if there is no speed limit? The governing state law of maximum speed shows me if I am breaking the law or not. The law gives power for me to be penalized, fined, or judged if I break it (Romans 4:15). The penalty of sin is death (Romans 3:24) and the Mosaic Law gives it power to do so. Yet Christ's sacrifice and resurrection has defeated sin and the law with the blood of Jesus and His: redemption, grace, forgiveness, relationship with the Father, righteousness and so much more has been freely given to us all. Christ's love for us set us free from the power and curse of the law.

Sin no longer controls believers because we have no more sin accounted for in our records (Ps. 103:12, Jeremiah 31:34, Isa. 43:25, Acts 3:19) . Jesus and the Father remember them no more. As far as the East is to the West they are forgotten, scripture states that God does that for His sake! So how can sin be our curse and have power over us if it does not exist in us? It cannot! The blood of Jesus covers us and when our Heavenly Father looks at us he sees his beautiful holy Son, Jesus, staring back at him! Thank you Jesus! How amazing is that truth?! Jesus did all the work and all He asks us to do is to confess Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).

God's unmerited favor, grace, is upon us now; and the curse of the law and all its condemnation and judgment is no more. Hallelujah! The prisoners and captives have been set free (Isa. 61:1)

Now we live by God's grace and our faith is 100% in him and not in the law or in keeping the law, which is really just religious dead works (Hebrew 6:1). We live in a relationship, a daily surrendered lifestyle, with Jesus which allows us to know his heart's desire for us. It takes intimate fellowship and daily communion with Jesus to know his heart for us. It means that we have to lay down our control of our lives and give Jesus control over it, every part of it! It means that the Holy Spirit may ask us to do something out of our comfort zone. Activities in which we have to be obedient, like praying for a stranger to be heal. Yet living in freedom, from the burden of the law, leads to a glorious, Holy Spirit enriched and empowered life that allows Jesus to bless us more abundantly than we could even pray for ourselves (John 10:10, Ephesians 3:20).

So why do we see so many fellow believers entangled in religious dead works and not living in intimacy with Jesus? (They walk around powerless in the faith and burdened by religious duty.) I believe it is because satan understands better than most Christians do that if he can get believers to stay under the curse of the law and under the condemnation of sin that he can keep the Bride of Christ weak, asleep and even sick (how can a body fully function in health if parts of it are not functioning to capacity or weakened?).

You can see how the apostle Paul, and the other New Testament writers, pleaded with the new church to stop allowing the law to creep back into Jesus's grace covenant with them (Romans 3:21-31). The enemy has been working overtime to keep the believer focused on religion (man work reaching to God) versus relationship (God's grace reaching down to man). Religion is man’s faith in tradition and service to God (the proverbial check boxes) to justify himself to enter into heaven. A great example of this is the Pharisees in the New Testament. Jesus called them hypocrites (actors) because they only cared about how they appeared to others on the outside and their hearts were dark and turned away from God (Matt. 23). This is not the heart that Jesus wants for us. In Matthew 7:21-23 He gives the people a warning that works, even great works, do not lead to Jesus knowing you on a personal level. I like to think of it this way, I maybe able to read books on the life of the president and really know all about him but if I showed up at his front door telling him that I know who he is and that he should let me in to have me for dinner he would have his security guards kick me off his property saying that he doesn’t know who I am and that I am not welcomed. It is the same way with Jesus. He wants our heart not our traditions or lip service. He hungers for us to love him the way that he loves us. He yearns for us to seek him out in the cool of the day and just talk with him because he is our best friend. He wants us to listen and obey his commandments because we love him not because we feel condemned if we do not do it. He wants us to allow him access to the innermost crevice of our hearts and hold nothing back from him. Then everything that we do for him will be out of a posture of a laid down lover that yearns to make him happy. Jesus is after our hearts. Does your heart yearn for Jesus like his yearns for you?

Scripture, new and old, clearly tells us that God wants a relationship with us! So much so that He sent his one and only Son to die an excruciating death to make a way that we could walk in unbroken fellowship with Him, like he did with Adam and Eve before the fall (John 3:16). Fellowship is what He created us for. A relationship that is so intimate that scripture says that we are one with Jesus, intertwined with him (Galatians 3:26-28, Romans 6:5-7). As Jesus is, so are we, when we stand in faith fellowship with Him (1 John 1:5-7, 1 Corin. 1:9, Eph. 2:14-22, Philip. 2:1, John 17:23). What a mind-blowing truth! The Creator of the universe loves you so much that his thoughts about you are as numerous as the grains of sand on the Earth (Ps. 139, Eph.3:18-21).

I beseech you brothers and sisters in Christ to sit with the Holy Spirit today and do an inventory check of your heart's motives towards Christ.

  • Do you have religion or do you have an intimate relationship with Christ?

  • Do you feel condemned by Jesus or do you feel his love cascading from your heart? (Romans 8:1)

  • Do you put off praying, or talking, to Jesus or do you yearn to be in his presence in fellowship?

  • Do you feel like a victim and powerless or do you feel like more than a conqueror? (Romans 8:37)

  • Do you feel like God is the great taskmaster or do you know that he is Love and The Lover of your very soul?

If you believe and feel overwhelmed with works versus relationship then I invite you to pray the prayer listed below from your heart and keep pressing into Jesus for his truth to be revealed to you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine! He wants to kick religion in the teeth and out of any area of your walk with him. Religion and dead works have no place in a child of God's life. He wants your heart!

Heavenly Father of Glory, I pray that you would impart to me the riches of the Spirit of Wisdom and the Spirit of Revelation of discovering who You are and who I am in You, in a deep and intimate way. I pray that your light will illuminate the eyes of my heart, flooding me with the light of Truth until I experience the full revelation of hope and love to which you are calling me to.

Lord, increase my measure of faith that I may continually experience your immeasurable greatness and power in my life. For my life is to be a reflection of your greatness and love.

Jesus, I thank you for your life, death and resurrection. You alone are exalted as first above every ruler, authority, government and realm of power in existence. You alone are my Shepherd and source of everything I need. You completely fill me and I completely feel you Jesus.

Thank you for awakening my heart to your heart and walking this journey with me, unveiling your mysteries to me and teaching me how to be one with you! I love you, Jesus! In Jesus name I pray amen.

(Prayer adapted from Ephesians Chapter 1)

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