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Removing the Cloak of Religion
Stats: 3,499 words / Reading Time: 17.50 mins

Published: Monday, 20th July 2020

By: Obayomi Abiola Benjamin

Removing the Cloak of Religion is read 1.7K times on CentreNDL.org 1.7K
  

REMOVING THE CLOAK OF RELIGION

Understanding Why We Must Be Kingdom Minded


Listen To Podcast: Removing the Cloak of Religion: Understanding Why We Must Be Kingdom Minded

A cloak is a piece of clothing or coat that is worn over another cloth. If I am putting on a cloak for instance, you may not actually see what I am wearing underneath, except it be revealed to you. The cloak sometimes serves as a protective element to the wearer from harsh weather conditions like cold, rain or even wind. Sometimes it could also form part of the wearer’s dressing. Dictionary dot come defines a cloak as “something that covers or conceals; disguise; pretense.” There are quite a huge number of people in the world today who hides under the cloak of religion. Despite the fact that Christ has torn the veil that covers us and hinders us from accessing the Father, it is unfortunate that a lot of folks are still hiding under the cloak of religion.

 

Many times, when we teach on the subject of religion or write about it, it is to the end that people can have the necessary understanding of the real thing, and put aside the futility in religion. It is true that the veil has been removed, but the cloak is still present. I did a research recently on ethno-religious conflict in Nigeria, and the study opened my eyes to how religion have messed a lot of people up. I discovered that people, in their quest to seek God, have embraced practices that have further taken them away farther from God. Just like Jeremiah 2:13 says: “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisternsbroken cisterns that can hold no water.”

 

That Scripture rightly describes the state of many people in religion today. Quite a large number of people have abandoned God and they have followed after religion. “Broken Cisterns” as used in that Scripture, is religion in our modern-day life. Religion does not hold water; religion does not lead any man back to God. What Jesus came to reveal to us was not religion, or a denomination, but a kingdom.

 

Jesus said in Luke 22:28-29: “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” In another place in Matthew 25:34, Jesus said: Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” 

 

Notice the phrase “inherit the kingdom” and not inherit the Jewish religion or any other religion of the world at the time. The church of Christ today was started as a body, and not as a denomination or a religious organization. Jesus didn’t register a religious organization and He didn’t propagate any as well. The church isn’t meant to be a religious organization, but a spiritual movement, enforcing the will of God on the earth. The argument about whether Christianity is a religion can go on and on, but deep down we know that being Christ-like is way deeper than any religion. The teachings of Christ as we know it, are non-conformists in nature, and that is why He was hated by the religious folks of His days.

 

Non-conformists, not in the sense that He broke the law, that is not what I am saying, because there is a wide gulf of difference between the two. Jesus did actually obey the law. There was a time He instructed Peter to pay the taxes for the both of them. But the many things He did were not tailored or found as a norm within the religious settings of His days. For example, He healed on Sabbath days. Their religion actually did not give room for any activities to take place on Sabbaths. But Jesus said to them, “He is the Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12).

 

THE ERROR IN RELIGION

“If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren). External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.”

James 1:26-27 (AMP)

 

Religions are man-made. The best of religions points people to a man, and not to God. Most religion adherents are obedient to the founder of the religion and not to God. When King Nebuchadnezzar set up the gold image, the instruction was that when the people hear the sound of the horn and flute and all of that, they were to bow down and worship the gold image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up (Daniel 3:4-5). Did you see that? The instruction was to worship the image and not God, and this is exactly what happens in religion. People think they are worshipping God but not knowing they are worshipping something else.

 

No wonder apostle James wrote in our text above: “If anyone thinks himself to be religious.” Religion originates from man. People in their quest to seek and to please God fashioned out different ways and methods for themselves. Now, the danger in that is that: what many people assume are the things that pleases God, aren’t the things that please Him. People have many erroneous assumptions about God.

 

God said in Isaiah 55:8-9:

 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

 

God does not think the way man thinks, and God’s ways are far higher than our ways. And this is why it is dangerous to think “this and that is what pleases God” outside of the things that He has revealed to us as what and what pleases Him. Pleasing God cannot be on our own terms, but on His own terms, and this is where religion completely got it wrong. Now, apostle James wrote this: “External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.”

 

Now, James definition of what true religion should entail does not mean that God endorses religion as a way to reach Him, because if one eventually does those things, but have not come to know God intimately, those activities would end up becoming a waste of time. What apostle James was trying to encapsulate was that if you claim you are religious and that activity does not cover the things that he listed, then that man or woman’s religion is vain. Religions keeps people grounded and spotted. Religions makes us think we are “doing fine” and in actual terms, we are not.

 

This is why the cloak of religion must be removed so that we can truly serve the loving God.

 

WHY WE MUST BE KINGDOM MINDED AND NOT RELIGIOUS MINDED

God wants us to be kingdom minded and not just a bunch of religious folks who does not know their left from their right. There was a reason why Jesus came and all He was propagating were matters of the kingdom. It was John who initially gave us a clue into what Jesus was coming to do. Matthew 3:1-2 says: In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” And when Jesus stepped into the scene, He took it up from where John the Baptist stopped. Matthew 4:17 says: From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

 

Much more than the things we do ignorantly in religion are matter of the kingdom of God. What then is a kingdom? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a kingdom as: “a country whose ruler is a king or queen.” It also defines it as: “the spiritual world of which God is king.” You see, as children of God, we belong to a kingdom where God reign supreme, and not a religion. Revelation 5:10 tells us that “Christ have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” The original intention of God from the beginning is that we should reign on the earth in order to extend His kingdom.

 

The words of Jesus in Matthew 5:13-14 also gave credence to this assertion. Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. So, when Jesus said we have been made Kings and priests to our God and we shall reign on the earth, what Jesus was saying was that we are meant to rule and reign on behalf of God in this earthly realm.

 

Characteristics of God’s Kingdom

- The kingdom of God does not conform to the religious standards of this world. Just as we saw earlier, Jesus was a non-conformist and see what He said here:

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

John 18:36

 

- The kingdom of God is a seed that is sown in our heart. Just like every kingdom are created, the kingdom of God as well is created and planted in us via a seed. God’s kingdom is created in us via the word of God and we are expected to manifest this kingdom outwardly, as the seed of the word of God germinates in our hearts.

 

Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? 31 It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; 32 but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”

Mark 4:30-32

 

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Luke 17:21

 

- The seed of the kingdom of God is associated with its fruits. It is absolutely impossible to bear fruits outside of the seed of the kingdom of God that has been sown in us. There is a way of life in the kingdom and there are fruits associated with that particular way.

 

You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

 

- The Kingdom of God is beyond the superficial, it is Spiritual

I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore, do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Romans 14:14-18

 

- Diligence is a hallmark of the kingdom of God

For he who lacks these things is short-sighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:9-11

 

- The Kingdom of God is demonstrated in Power

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.

Matthew 4:23-24

 

So, the starting point to becoming kingdom minded is first by removing the cloak of religion that we put on. The reason a lot of people still struggle to please God is simply because they still have the cloak of religion on. Don’t see God from the lenses of religion, see God from the basis of His word. It is only through this means that we can serve Him and please Him acceptably. God wants to see us the way we are and not through the tapestry of religion. Jesus has made the grace available; the love of the Father is always there for us and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit brings us to that vital relationship with God.

 

I believe we have been blessed!


Thanks for the gift of your time, I am Obayomi Abiola Benjamin!

Feel free to share your thoughts or testimony in the comment box below. I promise to respond to them as soon as possible!


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Word of Confession: (Optional)

Lord Jesus, I confess to you that I have sinned against the LORD God - in the rebellion of my heart, I have disappointed your expectations on my life. I have fallen from Your grace and followed wrong influences around me. Today, I retrace my steps back to you - and I ask that in your mercy you accept me as your son and give to me (again) the promise of the Father - the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, please, come and make my heart your home, and from there rule in the affairs of all men. In Jesus Name I have prayed.

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Religion Christ Kingdom MindedJuly2020


Let your LIGHT so shine before MEN (irrespective of their race, religion or orientation) that they MAY SEE your GOOD WORKS and give GLORY to your Father in heaven! Your exploits are not actually for your own sake, but for God's sake - therefore, be unapologetic about your good behaviour or actions: for they are your Father's reward for sending and keeping you wherever you are right now!



Published: Gboyega Adedeji | Friday 17th January 2020


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I am Abiola Benjamin Obayomi, a disciple of Jesus Christ, with a drive to mentor young believers into spiritual maturity. I am a student of God's word and a teacher as well, with passion in the areas of relationship & spiritual development. I am a worshipper, an ardent lover and follower of the Lord Christ.


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