How To...Loose Your Religion

I had heard about Justin Dorroh long before meeting him. People kept telling me what a great leader, visionary, all around great guy he was. I finally met him when he & his wife moved to Portland. Justin is the pastor of The Door Community of Faith in Portland. He is passionate about people living authentic lives with Jesus...which is why he was the perfect candidate for "How To...Loose Your Religion."
            Liz asked me to write a “how to” lose our religion in our relationship with Jesus. Let me begin by saying, from my perspective, when I use the term religious or religion, I am not referring to people but to a mind-set or a way of thinking that in the end does more harm than good. To go on a “witch-hunt” becomes religious, and I think we are all tired of focusing on what’s wrong with people versus what’s right with them, no matter how small that kernel of truth might be.
            Under the law we know, do this, and God will move on your behalf. The law says, work for God and God will bless you. The law says, do your part and God will do His part. My friends, the law doesn’t work!  Now our means to right standing before God is based on free grace received by faith (think simple trust) and is no longer based on our obedience. Instead, righteousness is based on our faith in His obedience! Paul said it this way in Romans 1:17, “In the gospel a righteousness is REVEALED that is BY FAITH!” In other words, we are in right relationship with God, simply by believing the cross qualifies me for right relationship with God! Woo hoo!
            Now, one of the earliest heresy’s Paul had to deal with was the Galatian bewitchment (Gal. 3). What happened was this: Paul came in and preached salvation by grace through faith because of Jesus’ finished work. Later, a group of Judaizers came in to the Galatian church and said, “Hey guys, we love Jesus, you love Jesus...awesome! Grace is amazing isn’t it! AAAAAANNNNNNNND, you might want to consider getting circumcised. Why? Well, circumcision is an added bonus to what Jesus did, and it is useful to you as a follower of Jesus.”
            Sounds harmless, right? The whole book of Galatians is Paul’s frustration with how these guys began with believing in order to enter the Kingdom, but switched back to their own works as a means to progress in their faith. In today’s society, no one is going to come in and try to convince us to go through a bodily operation, right? But we love add-on’s to the cross! Like what? Like, how much Bible do you read? How many people do you share the gospel with? How much do you pray? How much do you fast? Are any of these disciplines wrong? No way! They are all awesome; however, the problem sets in when we believe that by doing or not doing these disciplines we somehow determine how “close” we are with God or how much of His favor we carry. The problem is we make these disciplines our means of right standing with God, and it is no longer about simple faith in Jesus who died for us, as us (Romans 6). So, when we are “doing” well at these disciplines, we are on top of the world; while when we fall short, we feel like we are being “disobedient.” Sound familiar?
            The problem is we don’t understand the power of the cross. Romans 6 is clear, we DIED to sin! If you are a believer you are NOT: sinful, dirty, lazy, fearful, insecure, prideful, arrogant, frustrated, full of rage, lustful, a drunk, disobedient, FILL IN THE BLANK. According to the scriptures, the entire sin nature died upon your acceptance of Christ’s finished work on your behalf. (Romans 6: 3-7; 11; 18; Colossians 2:13-15, & MORE) So it is no longer trying to conform ourselves to some good behavior that is really the pattern of how the world works (Romans 12:2) but it is now the grace to believe that old nature is DEAD!
            Jesus’ death on the cross finished the work of dealing with your sinful nature. His resurrection inaugurated a new nature that is now based in righteousness (Romans 6:18). We have a new identity as believers and the way it operates is by faith, as mentioned earlier. This is what Paul is getting at in 2 Corinthians 5:17 - The old is GONE, the new HAS come! God does not need our help to deal with the sinful nature, He just asks us to believe. Jesus said it this way in John 6, “The work of God is this, to believe in the one He sent.” Again, this is the scandal of grace! We are now righteous, holy, pure, acceptable, etc., because we believe in Him and His finished work.
            So, how do we begin to “lose our religion?” Stop trying so hard to please God (Gal. 2:15-21 The Message)! Rest in His finished work. Believe He did the entire work of redemption 2000 years ago. Hebrews 4 tells us the Israelites never entered His rest because they didn’t believe. They never experienced the internal rest that faith in God provides. In my opinion, the greatest evidence of faith is rest from performance for God and for people. I love the supernatural, and outrageous testimonies, but rest is the evidence of trusting God.
            So, read the Bible to discover what God has done for you; not to qualify to be used by God (Col 1:12). Believe what He says, not the negative things others say, or what you feel on a certain day. Trust Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth and to reveal Christ in you (John 16:13-15). Stop proclaiming accusations over yourself and others. Realize while grace isn’t a license to sin, it is the only way to leave sin (Romans 5:20-6:2), because grace eradicated sinfulness from your life, as a believer (Romans 6 & 1 John 3:5-6). So much more to say to piece together a complete picture, but I am out of room! Here’s to grace re-orienting us again and again to realize the gospel really is GOOD NEWS!