If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1: 26-27 (NLT) I spend a great deal of time and effort examining the problems within organized Christianity. That is because of the many warnings we see in the Bible about false teachers and doctrines in the end time which we find ourselves in today and growing erosion of true discernment. It is crucial because eternal lives are at stake. Not only for people who sit in pews every week thinking they are saved when they are not but also for those who are desperately seeking God only to be unable to find him in what they see popular Christianity to be. Make no mistake about it, Jesus Christ is coming back and from the signs of the times all around us, it will be sooner than most expect. Let us also not lose sight of the fact however; He is coming back for His bride: For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. – Ephesians 5: 25-27 (NLT) I say this because in the normal human condition we tend to take things too far. We tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater. For example, I cannot go through 20 Facebook posts without coming across the latest fad – Christians bashing religion in the defense of Christ. I have even seen well intended “spoken word” or rap videos drawing the youth into this practice as well. Why I hate religion but love Christ? You cannot beloved! We can hate false teaching. We can hate false preaching. We can hate the wolves that have infiltrated the church but we cannot hate the Bride of Christ! We can hate the pomp and circumstance of entertaining the saints. We can hate the seeker friendly, purpose driven, emergent nonsense that has watered down the Gospel. We can hate everything that prevents the spreading of the uncompromised Gospel but we cannot hate what Christ died for! Read these Ephesian verses again beloved! Christ gave up His life for her! What is interesting is why He gave up His life according to these verses. To make the church holy and clean – washed by the cleansing of His Word. This gives us the guidelines for what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to exposing the works of darkness within the church, while not disparaging what God loved so much He sacrificed His only Son for. We can certainly speak against what is unholy within the church. We can speak against what makes the church unclean. Well, what is the definition of holy? To be holy means to be set apart for God. Set apart from what? The world! You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. – James 4: 4 (NLT) Throughout the Old Testament we see the nation of Israel being accused of adultery against God and that is the spiritual state of many churches today. When I say churches, I mean individual church buildings and the leadership that run them – not the church as a whole. We are supposed to be holy unto God both individually and corporately. We are not supposed to be dancing with the devil because he will always insist on leading. It is not about hating religion; it is about hating what false teaching is doing to the Bride of Christ! The insistence on compromising with the things of this world is defiling the Bride – plain and simple. How can you claim to be set apart when you strive to be “relevant” to popular culture? How can you claim to be set apart when you follow secular leadership principles, secular measurements of success and secular growth theories? You cannot. It is a lie. Like Lot, we have pitched our tents towards Sodom and when you do that, you eventually find yourself living in Sodom. The second reason found within the Ephesian verses to speak out is when we see the Bride of Christ embracing things outside of the Word of God. The church is supposed to be washed by the cleansing of the Word so it stands to reason that anything outside the Word will corrupt her. When we see the church preaching earthly prosperity in lieu of eternal blessings we can see how that is against the Word of God and therefore will stain and wrinkle what is supposed to be an unblemished church. When we see churches abusing the people they are supposed to serve we can see the same things. When we see heretical movements such as Holy Laughter, the Circle Maker, or self help disguised as the Gospel, we can see how these will corrupt what is supposed to be a pure church. Why? Because they are outside of the Word which cleanses. If they are outside of the Word then logically they will make things dirty – as opposed to clean. This brings us to the key verses and back to the original point. We need to realize that the church is the Bride of Christ. God does not speak against religion – He speaks against worthless religion. It is interesting here that God says pure and genuine religion is comprised of two facets. The first is taking care of the least in society. Caring about people in distress. Caring about the lost. Caring. Unfortunately what we see too much of these days are churches that care about themselves and the little slice of turf they have. The Purpose Driven agenda actually teaches pastors how to marginalize and get rid of people who would dissent! It is not a kingdom mentality but a fiefdom mentality. A fiefdom is defined as pertaining to the estate or domain of a feudal lord. That feudal lord cares only about his property. He does not take into consideration how he affects other feudal lords or their goals. When we speak against the false teachings of the day it is not to put religion down but rather to see it built back up as Jesus meant it to be – with a kingdom mentality. When Jesus walked the earth His ministry was all about the individual people who were hurting in this world. The sick and marginalized. The sinners and the outcast. THAT is what the genuine and pure church of Jesus Christ needs to get back to. The second point made in the key verses for what is pure and genuine religion is that we refuse to let the world corrupt us. As bad a state as this country might be in morally, the Apostle Paul encountered far more immoral cultures in ancient Greece. He never once tried to conform to them. He never once tried to be relevant to them. He said in retrospect that he insisted on only knowing two things when he was with them – Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That is it because that is all that is needed. When saying farewell to the leaders of the Ephesian Church he said that he was free of their blood because he did not hesitate to proclaim to them the whole Gospel. I am afraid that many in the modern church have a great deal of blood on their hands. We are to preach the Gospel and let people make their choices. We are not called to compromise the Gospel, marginalize it, dress it up, make it more palatable, make it more relevant, make it hip, or disguise it. Not one person will enter the Kingdom of Heaven by trickery or subterfuge. We are supposed to be the alternative to the world beloved – not a cheap knockoff. So let us commit ourselves anew to our allegiance to the Bride of Christ. Not to the individuals who are undermining it. Not to the false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Not even to those who do not realize their own apostasy. As Paul Washer once said, it is not Joel Osteen’s fault that his ministry is what it is. It is because 45,000 people per week demand it. If it was not Joel, someone else would step into that void because too many people want to hear that God wants to bless them with new cars and fancy homes. Too many people want to hear Joseph Prince because they do not want to hear about their own sin and a need to repent before a holy God. Too many people want to hear that all you have to do is draw a circle in the sand and God will answer your prayer in the affirmative. These observations are not meant to destroy religion but to purify it. To bring it back to what God says is worthwhile religion. That we are about the business of reaching out to the neediest people and that we do not allow ourselves to be corrupted by this world. Give me that religion. Demand that religion. Celebrate that religion. Get rid of the imposters and the charlatans! Chris is coming for His bride soon! Rev. Anthony.