Section 2
COT2

Church Attendance? Religion Is Not Alignment

         
You may already realize what I'm about to say but it must be said...
 
Religion is not alignment with God.
 
We know being right with God is only possible via repentance and knowing/believing Jesus. And that staying right with God requires us to continue in submission to His Lordship, which includes repentance and cleansing as we go. Remember how Jesus washed the disciples' feet before He was crucified? Though afterwards Jesus told them He did it to set an example for them to follow, that's not the only reason He did it. Let's take a close look at what Jesus said to Peter:
 
Jesus came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  "No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” But Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean...”  John 13:6-10.
 
In saying that Peter had a bath, Jesus was saying Peter was right with God (aligned with His kingdom) because Peter had already repented and believed on Him as the Lord Messiah. But interestingly enough, Jesus said Peter did need his feet washed or that Peter could have no part with Him. And He told Peter that he would understand later.
 
Well, it's later. And the understanding is that even though Peter was clean and right with God as a whole, He would still need to receive regular washing from Jesus (via repentance and the cleansing power of the blood).
 
All that to say, once born again, we must remain in humble submission to the King, and repent when we step out of line and get our feet dirty. And in so doing (continuing in the way of repentance), as well as believing, we remain in alignment with God. Mind you, not because we're perfect, but because we repent and believe.
 
That said, now let's look at the issue of religious spirits:
 
As you probably know, religious spirits con believers into taking security in their works and subconsciously equate their works with their alignment with God. But like I once thought, you might presume you do not have any religious spirits. So, we need to hash this out because if we feel more right with God because, for example, we made it to church on Sunday, we read our Bible, we gave tithes or offerings recently, we volunteer, we pray, we worship, etc., then that's a religious spirit. We're subconsciously leaning on our performance to feel good about our walk with God. Consequently, we may feel more qualified to pray and even make requests since we're "doing well" following religious protocol. To the contrary, if we feel distant from God, a little hesitant about going before Him in prayer because we're slacking, it's because we subconsciously believe that our alignment with God is dependent upon our Christian performance. And oh, are these spirits sneaky. There are Christians that know their salvation is not based on their works, yet, indirectly, most still feel like they are in disobedience or sin for not  soaring in these religious duties.
 
For example, there's this religious dogma that if you do not belong to or attend church regularly, you are in violation of scripture. Not true! Though it's best to connect with a sound group of believers, though this is God's desire for us, to be in unity, to worship together, to edify one another, etc., there's no scriptural mandate to do so. None. It is not sin to not be a part of a church. The mandate, as we learned in the "Greatest Commission" module about the imperative to bear fruit, is to BE the Church wherever we are. Because WE are the Church. And where two or more are gathered, WOOHOO, all the better! Indeed, it is unwise for Christians to not congregate, because that's a huge part in how we grow and it's so powerful being able to worship our God together, as one. But there's no "mandate" for this. It is not sin to not be a part of the modern day institutionalized system of organized religion. This is a lie that puts a religious spirit on the Church.
 
I've heard pastors unwittingly promote this religious spirit by misrepresenting Hebrews 10:25, preaching the false doctrine that "not forsaking the assembly" means to not forsake going to church. (And frankly, it's a spirit of witchcraft, too. But I won't go there.) Meanwhile, based on the Greek and not the faulty translations, the entire context of the passage from Hebrews 10:23 to 10:27 actually says,
 
"23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope (not faith as KJV states) without wavering, for He who promised (to return and gather us) is faithful. 24And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25not forsaking (the hope of) the gathering together of ourselves, as is the manner of some, but exhorting / comforting / encouraging one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (what day?). For if we sin willfully (by rejecting the profession of our hope discussed in verse 23) after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries." 
 
The context of this passage has nothing to do with "going to church" or even Christians getting together. Instead, if you study out the original Greek terms and their usage throughout the New Testament, what you discover is it's all about something that's not commonly taught in the Church - which is the gathering to Christ at His return. Below is a link to a point by point breakdown which clearly lays this passage out, but I'll summarize:
 
Hebrews 10:23 speaks to "a confession of our hope". We have to ask what that hope is. In short, based on plenty of other scriptural evidence, this hope refers to the gathering of the believers unto Christ at His return. In fact, that's the "Day" verse 25 is referring to; the day of Christ's return. When the book of Hebrews was written, believers were living in anticipation (in hope) of Christ's return and of being gathered to Him out of this world, because that's what Paul taught them. Unfortunately, several years had passed since Paul taught them this, and Jesus hadn't yet come back to gather them, so some abandoned their hope for it. Therefore, Paul warned others to not forsake this hope, but to, instead, encourage or exhort each other to persevere in the hope of Christ's return and His gathering us to Him - and all the more as the Day approaches! Because times will be so difficult for believers the closer the Day gets, that more and more will fall from the faith (the Great Apostasy of 2 Thessalonians 2). Paul then explains that those who know of this truth but give up on it, abandoning the hope, will suffer judgment and fiery indignation (be left behind to endure the tribulations). 
 
Note: 1 Corinthians 5:4 says, "When you are 'gathered' in the name of our Lord Jesus (as in having church)...".  The Greek term for gathered here is sunachthentOn, Strong's G4863. And this Greek term is used quite frequently throughout the New Testament. Whereas, the Greek term used for Hebrews 10:25 re: forsaking the assembling is episunagOgEn, Strong's G1997. Interestingly, episunagOgEn is only used one other time in scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:1, "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered (G1997) to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs (the great falling away) and the man of lawlessness (antichrist) is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God."  Clearly you can see that this gathering has to do with the Lord's return after the antichrist is revealed, just as Hebrews 10:25 also reflects upon "that Day". 
 
So, there's no way to substantiate Hebrews 10:25's "not forsaking the assembly" as having anything to do with going to church. Such a claim is a complete deviation away from what Paul is speaking about. It's a false teaching with one goal - to hook believers up with religious spirits who will take on a subconscious works mentality, feeling distant from God, guilty or defeated if they aren't a part of a church or attending regularly. It's just one clever way to oppress the body of Christ. 
 
 
This misuse of scripture serves as a perfect example of how sneaky religious spirits can be. I personally never thought I had a religious spirit because I knew my salvation was not works based. Meanwhile, because of the abuse of this passage, there were times I wrestled with great guilt and fear for "forsaking the assembly" when I didn't attend church. I had no idea that I had submitted to the lie and accepted the doctrine of religious spirits. Consequently, my shame served well to make me feel disconnected from God and stunted my comfort in approaching Him. And I venture to say, you might just have the same thing going on or something similar...?
 
Other sneaky aspects of the religious spirit are, like I said, when we feel guilty or like we're failing as Christians for not praying, worshiping, serving, giving, volunteering, or even doing our ODJ Program as much as we think we should be. True, doing all those things is a part of the fabric of the kingdom of God. These are dynamics of God's realm. So, if we aren't doing them, yes, these are symptoms showing that something in us is wrong. Doing these kingdom acts does not align us with the kingdom of God and keep us "right" with Him; doing them is a RESULT of ALREADY being aligned with God. These practices merely follow suit. If they don't follow, then we need to find out what's going on in us that's not in tune with truth but, instead, is attuned with darkness, and pulling us away from the kingdom of God into bondage.  We need to see that our lack of practicing these kingdom protocols as a warning sign that something in us is wrong.
 
Remember, alignment with the kingdom of God is repentance and knowing/believing God's truths. True, you don't know all God's truths the moment you are born into His kingdom, but in so much as you have repented and believed what you do know, you are aligned because God's GRACE covers what you do not yet know. Meanwhile, you may still be vulnerable to lies that you YIELD to which may keep you going back and forth between the two kingdoms, even unknowingly. One of them being, "I'm not following religious protocol very well, so I'm in trouble. I'm in disobedience. I'm not right with God. I'm terrible. I'll never be right", etc. ---That's all demonic oppression via the spirit of religion and must be put out.
 
Ahhhh! I've lived that life and I'm angry that this is such a rampant false belief in the body of Christ. I hate it. The Lord rebuke you, spirits of religion!
 
Just please do me a favor and ask God to reveal if there's anything in you that bows to the spirit of religion to any degree. And then kick it out. Lay down the lie. Realize that even if you are in a season struggling with sin or aren't performing very well at religious or kingdom of God protocol, so long as your heart is humble before God, repentant, and seeking Him in the matters of your struggle, YOU ARE ALIGNED with the kingdom concerning those issues. Your repentance and relying upon God's grace concerning a sin or failure makes you aligned.Meanwhile, if you feel guilt and shame for the struggle, THAT is where you are not aligned with truth. THAT is where you are disconnecting yourself from God's realm. Because you believe a lie and are squandering the grace of God which covers you for the sin that you are struggling with. Feeling guilty is not being secure in what Jesus did for you - which is a dark kingdom policy. (Write that in your notes!)
 
If you'd like to look more closely at the breakdown of what Hebrews 10:23-27 actually means, please visit this blog.