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I would like to discuss some particular dangers that new Chrsitians can face today. Specifically, the spiritual pressures that can come in and hijack their fear of God and newfound religious zeal for what is moral and good, bringing them beneath obligations and an obedience which are in the name of God, but not truly of God. This happens by putting believers into certain pathways under the banner of, “This is what it means to fear God… To obey God.. To follow God…” Taking them captive by their willingness to fear and obey God, such believers being ignorant of how the devil can take advantage of them in this.

Many Christians, not just young Christians, do not anticipate this danger, how they can have their very willingness for obedience captured, leading them into wrong paths (Rom 16:17-19). They do not see how different the two really are—that one is spiritually of God, being led solely by Him, and the other is ideas about God—leading people away from abiding in God to abide in something lifeless and of man. Many believers, being zealous to serve and obey God, willingly embrace what comes in the name of “duty… truth… obedience, etc”. Yet the reality of such things as these is that they can put them on an entirely wrong path in God’s name.

The tragedy is that while many believers are focused on not falling into wrong doctrines, they are often tricked by this fear into submitting to man’s doctrines. They think that man’s doctrines are one and the same with the doctrines of God, and so they readily submit to them in the name of “truth”.

Many think that they must follow such systems of doctrine in order to keep in right faith, and that the opposite is to fall into a deconstructed or progressive belief system. This is the very fear that leads such people into obeying these systems. The trouble is that such people do not realize how equally dangerous these systems are, how lacking and corrupt these systems will be, making them weak and blind to much of what God is seeking to teach about sin and righteousness, and that these equally depart from God.

So many serve the mere doctrines and commandments of men, and they are blind to just how fruitless, blind, and even dark this makes their lives. They cannot see the great difference between the commandments/doctrines of men and the commandments/doctrines of God, nor see how they have fallen into having their sincere faith hijacked, leading them down long paths of serving such things as these in place of God, or partly serving God and partly serving these doctrines of men.

To address people's concerns about keeping right doctrine, the need is to see that the right doctrine is not a system of doctrine but is the doctrine of God's Word, what promotes godliness and righteousness, which will be spiritually renewed in us as we abide in God’s Word with deep thought and sincerity, and as we listen to the Holy Spirit as He leads us. This is not produced in us as we pick up a book on some system of theology, but as we walk in humility with God. The irony is that many today talk about “right doctrine” when their doctrines are actually opposed to the spirit of God’s doctrine. They become blind to the full nature of sin, they walk in lawlessness for themselves, calling this grace, all while becoming brutish and hard-hearted in the name of “speaking truth”. It leads them away from the true Spirit of Christianity, from true righteousness, godliness, gentleness, love, holiness, and so on. They are sure they are walking in right religion, as the doctrines of men deceive people more than anything else (Mt 6:23), and they cannot see how they oppose the true Spirit of God’s religion: “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.” (1 Jn 3:7) Therefore “right doctrine” is that which is born from abiding in God, whereby He teaches us our own sinfulness, ignorance, and shows us the many ways we have come to God with ideas of what is of God and good, and being broken out of these. It is this great work of faith God performs in us as we actively engage with God (Eph 4:23). And the very thing that will hinder this work in people, as much as any atheism or godlessness, is to put man as the teacher instead of Christ (Mt 23:10). This is because this work must be a spiritual work in us, worked in us as we abide in the Word, trying to actively understand, believe, and walk in it.

The mentality today is that to face this issue is to lead people away from God, to leave people to run around in error and live by their own minds/hearts. And while it is certainly true that such errors also exist today, the church today seems utterly blind to the harm of the “other ditch”. They prescribe the doctrines of men as a remedy to such things, when in fact, the doctrines of men are part of the cause of such “godlessness” and deconstruction. Many have found deadness in what people call “Christianity” and they have found deadness because they were taught to abide in man’s ideas about God rather than God Himself. And many others are seeking to “deconstruct” from that which doesn’t work life in them, seeking to find that which does. There are many in the church who think that to turn away from the commandments of men is to turn away from God, failing to see the great difference. God has warned us in the Word of the great danger of the traditions and doctrines of men, and yet the church is all too convinced that these are the things that will keep them safe! (Mk 7:8) In reality, they will destroy their religion, making it in vain, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mt 15:9)

Such people will end up being blind and resisting the true intent of God's Word in an effort to keep the doctrines they are serving in God's name, working to enslave people to their systems, rather than to bring people in right slavery to/service of God alone (Rom 6:22). Nothing about this conversation is any approval or encouragement to lose God or Truth! It is about growing beyond the satisfaction we have with this religious age. To see how sinful and  unsatisfactory our ways and systems are, and to repent to God and man for them, growing into the true religion of God. Very few are willing to face how dead their ideas about God are, while keeping a firm grip on God and going further.

The only safe path for any of us is one of truly following God alone, being led solely by His Spirit and Word, having the Spirit interpret the Word to us. This is the design of God.

Abiding in Man vs Abiding in God

Many think to serve God when they are opposed to the true Spirit of God’s religion, many believe they have faith in God when they do not actually believe in Him to teach them and others. The deception of these people is that they believe they are following God alone, when their entire path, or a great portion of it, is rooted in following the doctrines of men, and their own minds about God. They have trusted in the commandments of men as a refuge, failing to see their beliefs for what they really are. They are not truly submitting to God’s purpose of religion and not putting their trust in God to be their teacher and master, but making men their teacher and master. Therefore their whole life is springing up from this abiding in man, rather than truly abiding in Christ.

Many fear the path of “liberal” views of God, of falling into living by our lusts, desires, and fallen minds, and this danger is very real;, the trouble is that many take hold of “keeping God’s Word” in a way that doesn’t actually save them from any errors because it is only when we take hold of God rightly that we are saved from error.

The irony is that so many of these people continue to live by the very things they condemn the progressive or liberal of living by. They indulge in the spirit of lawlessness and call it grace, and wherever they are not indulging this spirit of lawlessness, it is only to become harsh and blind judges against the masses, blind to their own corruption that remains. These also continue to live wholly from themselves, preaching from themselves to others (2 Cor 4:5) All of this is rooted in their beliefs that continue to indulge such sins in them, never truly getting at the sin within. Whereas it is when our sin is truly dealt with that we are thereby made safe. They are blind to how essential it is to take up their own accountability to walk in righteousness, repentance, and godliness in order to be made safe in God.

The need is to take hold of God with right believing—this is the point of doctrine. And while many fear “false doctrine,” the spirit their doctrines produce in them is proof their beliefs about God are wrong. They are taking hold of God, but not rightly—just as the Lord speaks to in Matthew 15:9, they are worshiping God, but in vain, because it is only when our worship of God produces righteousness and godliness in us that we are made safe.

What deceives people to remain in such a state is that they never hear the full call of God’s religion against all these things, but remain “sure” that they are where they should be by their systems about God being “kept”. They are convinced they have a firm grip on God, not seeing the heart in which they are “believing on God” with.

What we need is to see that the danger is every false path, and that however religious ours claims to be, if it is not simply carrying out the purpose of God which is real righteousness, knowledge of sin, humility, and knowledge of God (real knowledge), then it is opposed to God! And this is just as true of a person who is satisfied in their atheism far from God as it is in a person thinking they are near to God, satisfied in their ideas about God but missing the true purpose of God: “...that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Eph 1:4)

The great challenge is getting ourselves into a place of remaining soft-hearted before God, to be continually broken out of our own views about God and life, continually having our mind renewed. Yet the doctrine of men is like the wisdom of the world, people run to some line of thinking and draw some lines in the sand that they think keep them safe. It makes them hard-hearted and unable to continually be reasoned with. The work of God’s religion is to get us past all the ways that “we know” and believe we have wisdom, yet the commandments of men drive people TO this way of thinking, introducing a kind of “wisdom” that is of this same spirit of the world. Leaving people to believe they’ve seen and heard, all while the corruption in them remains.

God’s purpose is to get us past all that we think we know, and to get us to see what is actually good and wise, and to walk in this with true humility of heart (Jm 3:13-18). This includes our very ideas about God! If we have never come to that place of really being broken in our views of ourselves, of our wisdom, then we have never come into the humility and righteousness of God’s religion. The tragedy with the commandments of men is that it creates a counterfeit to this breaking of self. People turn to some line of thinking, perhaps with resistance, and mistake this for repenting to God. In reality, the inner self is never really broken. They adopt different beliefs than originated with them outside of the church, but the self is never broken, and right repentance is never really formed in them. They are repenting to man and not to God. Repenting for a belief system and not for righteousness. Many think they’ve had this great change in themselves, but the true spirit of repenting unto righteousness is remaining in a vulnerable humility and soft-heartedness before God. If we are so sure of our ways about God, so sure of our wisdom, so satisfied with our current religiousness, then these things hinder righteousness and godliness just as much as any atheism or lust! “The one who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” (1 Cor 8:2)

The Christian is meant to be one who is leaning forward, fighting to have their mind transformed, to be truly convicted of sin and to come into the knowledge of righteousness. But this entire process is stopped dead by the commandments of men, by people being made to believe they have “arrived” when they had hardly begun.

The commandments of men are just as false and blinding as any other sin. Many people do not see this because they do not understand the nature of sin. That sin is simply what is vain. It is that which we take which is not really good. It is the way we take hold of something sure it is okay or meaningful, failing to see the true end of it. The purpose of God’s religion is to cut through ALL of these things. The purpose of God’s religion is not to give us a sense of feeling “good and right”, but to save us from all that is not good and right, thereby saving us. It is to save us from sin. Our deception today is in our foolish and prejudiced ideas about sin, failing to see that sin is what is vain, harmful, doesn’t give life, and deceptive. And these “fruits” of sin can show up just as much in our attempts at religion as they do in anything else we do in life. If, therefore, we take hold of God in a vain way, this is just as much the nature of sin as anything else.

The Nature of Those Who Choose the Commandments of Men

While many are deceived by wrong teaching and directions in the church pointing towards the commandments of men, it’s important for us to see that this is not the only cause for our deception, we are also deceived because we delight in sin.

One of the reasons this deception has such power over us is because we have rejected God’s true purpose in His religion: righteousness (1 Jn 3:7). Our guilt is that we have secretly sought a way to put off this judgment of God, not wanting to be fully called to righteousness. And we have thought that we can have adequate substitutes to this high call of God in righteousness, in facing the judgment of God, by filling this call with things that seem to satisfy and silence this call of God to holy living.

Many take hold of the commandments of men because they seem to them to be answers to the great weight of righteousness and godliness. They may seem like answers for how to understand the Gospel, but they fail to see that truly understanding the Gospel of God is our duty (and life).

The sin of many is how they are satisfied in these doctrines of men, unfeeling of just how lacking it is. Satisfaction in such things keeps people in a state of professing to know truth without truly having understood it. And many are deceived into believing that this profession is a satisfaction to God, when it is the real possession of godliness, righteousness, repentance, humility, and knowledge of God that is satisfaction to God.

We have put off the very basic assessment of ourselves in looking at if our ways are truly righteous or not. People take in these commandments of men as a “safety” or “answer”, rather than giving themselves to the diligent labor to understand God, to conform to Christ’s image.

This is where the commandments of men can deceive us as being a “safety” when it is the very thing that will destroy us. Why? Because it is only the one who truly has righteousness, repentance, godliness, and well-doing who will inherit the kingdom of God (Rom 2:4-8).

Many reject this basic judgment of God, and this is why they are deceived. “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess 2:11-12) It is the judgment of God on those who refuse to truly bear the cross of righteousness and being judged by this.

It can take real time with God to understand what He is saying, to understand what God is teaching about sin, the Gospel, the purposes of God, and so on. It can take real wrestling and fighting to be brought into the mind of Christ, to see why He says what He does. In a right fear of God, we seek these things as fully as we can. We are leaning forward, working with deep thought, searching the Scriptures, prayer, searching around us, and listening. The condemnation is not over such a person as this, who may not yet see the fullness of God in the Gospel, but it is the person who is not doing this work.

The danger of the commandments of men is that it severs this work in its “answers”. It satisfies the conscience and right fear of God with lies, causing Christians to put off this daily work. And even when they do engage with the Word, their minds are so devoted to another master that they are blinded from seeing the very obvious truths revealed in the Word. Their searching and praying all become part of upholding these idols rather than being able to approach the Word from a humble and open pursuit of Truth. Many imagine the commandments of men keep them safe when it is the very thing that teaches them to put off a right fear of God, when it is this right fear of God that perseveres us. For example, one can recite to themself, “once saved, always saved” as a comfort to the worries they are not assured of heaven, and completely bypass looking at their hearts and actions and what they desire in life this week, month, year, and if they are increasing in righteousness and sensitivity to His voice. A doctrine can put duct tape over the very warning lights that are flashing for our attention and ensure we can stand confident among our faith community. A person does this by the aid of the commandments of men, but from the deception of their own heart. We believe God’s call to repentance to be evil and harmful, so we allow the scriptures that contradict our thinking to be explained away.

These people can spend their time using conversation and debate as an intellectual plaything, rather than seeing the need for a humble wisdom as preserving their very lives. They show how blind they are to the need of truth in this way, and all their “knowledge” puffs them up (1 Cor 8:1) and convinces them that they know and understand truth and God, when they are 100,000 miles away from the mind of Christ. “And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.” (1 Cor 8:2) They never hear all the ways the scriptures speak to all their sins. They waste their lives fighting and debating for their precious worldviews, imagining they do this in service to God, failing to be truly convicted of their own deep personal sins and foolishness and walk in true righteousness.

Many talk of “being a sinner” whereas they show that they have no real knowledge of their sinfulness. Many talk about obeying God’s Word who are opposed to the Spirit of it. They speak of upholding truth when what they really seek is to uphold their views of God and personal agendas. Many speak about “this sinful generation” but speak prejudiced ideas about what sin even is, and love half-truth, hatred, and extremes. Many talk of how greatly they’ve been changed, when they have only repented from one error unto another and are deceived by this “change”. Many profess to serve God who oppose the very purpose of His Gospel: true righteousness being formed in us.

Again, the judgment is not on people who do not yet have the work of God fully formed in them, who struggle to see their own sinfulness, to understand the reasons of God, but who are people that are honestly and actively seeking these things; it is on the people who profess to see instead of humbly seeking true sight. “Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (John 9:41) The commandments of men take them off of the course of this humble pursuit of righteousness, bringing them to a perverse satisfaction with themselves.

The danger for all of us is rejecting God, rejecting the true call of His righteousness, and that this is the purpose of His Gospel and religion, all while imagining we are keeping these. All these errors spring from our refusal of this, and falling away from the spiritual path we first knew when we came to God, to learn goodness, righteousness, godliness, and to walk in this. So much comes in after this Spirit-born conviction of God and claims to be of God, and we end up walking in it, failing to see how far these things are from that spiritual purpose of God. But the commandments of men claim to be one and the same as this true conviction of God, and it is not. It is nothing less than the devil trying to make someone worship and serve him instead of God. Claiming to value this true conviction, it lies and deceives the person who submits to it.

Slowly we compromise with the commandments of men as an answer to the question of how to follow God, because we are satisfied with sinful desires that it seems to permit: favoritism, feeling special/elite, pride/conceit, a sinful love of “knowledge/wisdom”, permission to put off our responsibility (lawlessness), and so on. The commandments of men allows us to feel we are keeping God’s ways when we have rejected the very spirit of God’s ways. And this is what such men as these do and try to lead others into. They appear very religious but inwardly they are full of indulging their own sins: “Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matt 23:28)

Fruits of the Commandments of Men

“... They do not please God and are contrary to all men.” (1 Thess 2:15)

Those who live in the commandments of men are blind to the fruit of their ways. They assume their ways are good and justifiable, that they are serving God, failing to see the harm, darkness, and opposition it forms in their lives. They do not see that while they imagine they serve God, they fail to come into the righteousness that God’s religion is for, therefore they displease God. And while they believe their ways to be benign or good for man, they are completely contrary to the good of mankind.

One of the greatest costs to the commandments of men is how it hinders others from truly knowing God, and how it drives people away from God, “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’” (Rom 2:23-24) People begin to see God as evil, His religion as vain, foolishness, and darkness, and because of this they believe that abandoning God and religion is the moral thing to do. This is the purpose of the devil. It is the fruit of the commandments of men that provoke others to this course, being the greatest opposition to people turning to God. It is contrary to mankind.

All of this comes because people reject the truth that God’s religion is firmly based upon righteousness, reason, and conscience. The darkness that comes in the commandments of men is that people begin to reject all three of these, as if God leads them to this in the name of “faith”. And the effect of this is great darkness carried out in the name of God.

God appears to the world as evil, hateful/prejudiced, foolish/naive, because “he” is. So many imagine that unbelievers are rejecting God, and they cry “persecuted” failing to remember that we are only persecuted for God when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Mt 5:10).

The core of the Gospel is to call out to mankind in righteousness, reason, and good conscience, calling people to God in these. It is for these that man is supposed to heed God and turn to Him. “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 4:2)

This is the call believers hear when they are turning to God, but slowly the devil is able to get Chrsitians to turn against these things by a steady acceptance of doctrines that oppose them in spirit. People teach “these are true doctrines”, “the truths of God”, and people fail to test the true nature/spirit and trajectory of said doctrines/beliefs. To see if they truly agree with righteousness, reason, and good conscience.

Many will say that we cannot rely upon our own minds to judge these things, and certainly that is true to a degree. Many are deceived because they live by their own minds in matters of judging what is good and they never turn to God for enlightenment! Yet the people who insist on blind obedience to doctrine with this fear are often those who fail to see that this enlightenment with God leads to higher forms of righteousness, reason, and good conscience, it never leads them towards something that will table these in the name of “faith/obedience”. And God never denies us the right of common sense to access the trajectory of such beliefs, but teaches us to test the spirit and fruits of such things. Such people do not acknowledge the equal danger of being led away from righteousness, reason, and good conscience, nor how the devil can scheme in this fear to cause people to go past these. And that in the name of “faith, doctrine, obey God”, he is actually most able to lead people into darkness by convincing people that God would ever go past these borders. They deny that they themselves and others have a duty and a right to test the spirit of such things. And if the spirit of doctrines/teachings is not rooted in these, then it is not of God (1 Jn 3:7). God grants each person this right and duty, and they have been convinced that they are wrong to take up this right, hindering others in doing the same. Such people allow themselves to be obligated by the devil, and permit him to sear their conscience, confuse their reasoning, and cast off the scales of righteousness. Such a state is just as dangerous, if not more! (Mt 6:23)

God’s Gospel is about calling mankind to what is good. Calling mankind out of darkness into the light. The commandments of men turn evil into good and good into evil, turn darkness into light and light into darkness (Is 5:20). And the devil has great power to do this over believers because he obligates them in the name of God. The devil gains ground in Christian’s lives by this spiritual pressure. Believers are very hard pressed to resist this onslaught because they are taught to take their resistance as being unbelief or unwilling to obey God. When in reality, if they looked closely, they would see that their resistance is rooted in these three: righteousness, reason, and conscience—that what they are being told to do is opposed to these.

It is because the church doesn’t maintain these three things that she becomes corrupt and evil. And this evil blinds the mind of the world to the light of God.

The commandments of men make fruits of darkness rather than fruits of light, and creates people who oppose righteousness, reason, and good conscience, rather than work for these. This is why we must resist these spiritual pressures. “To them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” (Gal 2:5)

Disrespecting Conscience in Man

The commandments of men also lose sight of the truth that it is through our sanctification and our appealing to the conscience in others that we are to be commending others to God.

“But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 4:2) It is through the manifestation of God in our lives IN righteousness, reason, and conscience that we are to preach the Gospel and call people to God.

The commandments of men take a course of “preaching the truth” and love to believe that they’re in agreement with renouncing underhanded ways, yet their very beliefs deny the understanding both of how we preach to the world through the manifestation of righteousness, and in a respect to the conscience in man.

One of the great evils in the commandments of men is that it denies humanity to have basic reasoning and conscience. Though these are darkened by sin and cannot be solely trusted, yet it is by appealing to these with true goodness that we alone are to approach people.

The commandments of men have contempt upon others, denying their rights to basic reasoning and conscience. There is a great disrespect of others that the commandments of men produce in the name of “preaching truth”.

Such people walk in harshness, hatred, and prejudice, and judge from themselves, treating others with contempt. They lose all respect for people in basic dignity, reasoning, and conscience, and so are led down a very dark path.

While God does not respect our sinful ways, He still never treats us with disrespect, belittling, ridicule, denying people’s reality to suit some world view, or hatred (judging from some black and white extreme). The “commandments of men” crowd generally are seen most clearly in how they have no real respect for others. They try to walk in a pretense of it, but it’s never genuine. Respect, regard for conscience and reasoning, and seeking to commend ourselves to others by manifestation of righteousness is the path God sets forth for us to be approaching the world. And the commandments of men are shown most sinful in how they oppose this at every point.

Losing God and Religion as a False Solution to The Commandments of Men

Because of all the harm being done by the commandments of men, many have fallen into the lie that the solution to such things is less religion rather than true religion.

This is where the devil’s schemes gain a double victory. Firstly, leading believers into darkness and misery by these false obligations, and secondly, making Christians appear so evil, vain, and foolish to the world that people cast off God and true religion. This scheme is working very well!

The narrative today in the face of harmful religions, fanaticism, and so on is to see the world as the solution and as “freedom”. To see the loss of God and true religion as liberation, healing, and good, and many follow this narrative.

What is so tragic is that people are not wrong to need liberation from harmful religion, but many throw out the baby with the bathwater. They permit themselves to lose God, righteousness, life, and truth in their efforts to be free of these evils.

This is how the commandments of men hinder people from the Gospel, and how they are contrary to mankind. They are contrary to man’s true good, leading them into darkness and harm, and by making the way of Life and Truth appear evil, blinding the mind of mankind to the Light. We are in desperate need of seeing the light of God! How good and life-giving God is. What God has given us in the true Gospel is the greatest course for life there is. He gives us the pathway of meaning, truth, righteousness, life, joy, peace, hope, wisdom, and goodness.

What God is presenting to us in the Gospel is the way of life. And all of this is God calling out to mankind to turn into the way of righteousness, reason, and a good conscience. God is seeking to lead all who are willing in the pathway of fullness of life.

What we face today is a hard fight to preserve ourselves in this pathway and not get sucked into a darkness contrary to it, but we must be very careful to see that the world’s solution to this trouble, losing God and religion, or loosening the cords of religion, is a false solution, equally leading people away from Light. There may be a certain respite in getting away from such darkness as the commandments of men, but it is mixed with a false solution if it leads us away from true religion. The religion of God is not burdensome and evil, it is the pathway of life! To lose God is to lose life.

We must see that even with all the opposition these people give to us, we are still responsible for what we choose. We can never be so victimized that God exempts us from our own accountability in life for what we choose. The difficult thing to face is that many secretly relish the corruption in such “religious” people because they imagine that it gives them a perverse permission to remove their own accountability towards God. They think that in not walking in this religious darkness they are better, and in some degrees, they are, but they are blind to how it is only the person who walks in true godliness and righteousness who is better.

What many fail to see is that the thing in the life of these people who walk in the commandments of men that works such an evil and harmful course in their lives is actually their rejection of righteousness — not adherence to it. These people profess a regard for godliness, but really, they reject it. They reject their full accountability to walk in righteousness, delighting in a lie that “grace” has made them exempt from this duty. It is therefore their rejection of the true purpose of religion that takes them on such a dark course. It is not adherence to God’s Word and law, but denying these that brings such darkness. Yet it is often this same indulgence of lawlessness that those who turn away from all religion are secretly taking delight in, failing to see that this “consolation” is the very same thing those who walk in harmful religion are themselves delighting in. And it is the root of such darkness in them. It is the lack of religion that harms us. It is the lack of religion, in those who keep the doctrines of men, that has done evil to us. Those who do harm have rejected the spirit of God’s religion, and are we to trust in the same thing as them? “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Pt 2:2)

Both sides of this issue often fall for the same sinful desire: lawlessness. The desire to believe that we do not have to bear the cross of righteousness, but we are “set free” from it.

The “commandments of men” side claims to uphold holiness, and yet the truth is they oppose it. They delight in a false gospel that indulges them in their sin and calls this grace, and they think to run and preach to others! They believe they are zealous for God and holiness, when their delight is in narrow and prejudiced ideas about sin.Their zeal is rooted in a desire to uphold that doctrine which permits them this lawlessness. They are filled with zeal only for that which serves their agendas, and are busy trying to force the world into their image. They think to be zealous for God and truth, failing to see that they never can be because they have rejected the foundation of the Gospel: righteousness. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Pt 2:24) They preach on regarding authority but they themselves despise the only true authority — the call to repentance and righteousness. They only seek to establish the authority of their own perverse wills.

Those rejecting the commandments of men often claim to be rejecting merely the commandments of men, but what they are really running towards is a perverse freedom from God, taking this as their consolation. They are deceived by their own discernment into thinking that they do not need God, and secretly delight in the same lawlessness, taking it too as a lying answer. Many will continue in some degree of religion, thinking that a casual relationship with God is “grace” and getting away from “legalism”, but they refuse to see how vain this religiousness is, and that it is only the person who finds that path of true righteousness and godliness who blesses the world. They let themselves go to sleep in their “simpleness”, blind to how vain, naive, and worthless they become.

Both are putting off the upward call of God to holiness and truth, and replacing it with other things.

Those who walk in the commandments of men are taking refuge in the commandments of men against the storm of our great accountability for our lives. They relish the lie of this being God’s grace, blind to how their “delight in God” is a delight in lawlessness, They also believe that the commandments of men will keep them safe in the face of God’s judgment, failing to see that only true righteousness will keep anyone safe — this is why we need to examine the fruit of our ways to ensure they’re actually producing righteousness.

Others believe that they have a right to this same lawlessness as long as they’re rejecting “harmful religion”. They follow their own minds, and do not rightly “trouble themselves” for the things of godliness and righteousness, taking a removal from “wrong religion” as a false goodness for themselves. When it is only the person who fights for true religion, true godliness and righteousness, who is worthy of God. They fail to see that to be free of the darkness of such things does not mean they have light. That they are in danger of not being accepted by God because they are blind to what real righteousness looks like, and how they must labor for this. They have taken a sort of “benign state” as a good state, simply because they are not “like those people'', but they do not see how they too love lawlessness and an evil idea of grace, which they believe permits them this same self indulgence. They have believed the great lie that to reject true religion is liberty, and they relish this false liberty.

Sin is shown in ALL people by how they reject this spiritual call of God to true religion. The true religion of God is this call to take up the cross of godliness and righteousness and walk in it. We are guilty if we reject this, even if others are guilty for being such a great hindrance to us in this.

Many have by conscience and reason seen the evils in the commandments of men, but they pick up these tools of discernment, and use them as weapons against God. Seeing God as their enemy, when He is the very one who has given them this light. And they do not see that this light is still very limited, it is not the fullness of goodness or truth — we must turn to God for this. Many are satisfied with this degree of discernment, blind to the ocean of godliness and righteousness they are still lacking.

The devil is working to blind our minds away from the light of God in the Gospel of Christ. And one of his greatest weapons today is in the commandments of men, and the reaction of others to the commandments of men. Should we obey the devil in either one of these?

God’s Ways Are the Only Ways Built for Reality

The commandments of men have a massive effect upon people, both in the lives of those who take hold of them, and on those around them.

The evil effect they have in the lives of those who take hold of them is that it makes their lives vain, fills them with “light” that is really darkness, blinds them to the truth about their own failures and sinfulness, and hardens their hearts against righteousness and godliness in its true form.

The great word for them is vanity. Sin works vanity in life, that is one of the great evils about it. A person runs and spends all their energy in one direction, but the end of it is utterly pointless, corrupt, and empty. This is what God is teaching mankind about all of sin, working to try and save us from this vanity. Yet generally people never expect this to be the case within religion because this is the true religion of God. They do not see that sin is sin, and it can fully take root inside religion as well as outside of it. This assumption that works against the truth comes from particular doctrines of men, whereby people assume that they are automatically good and right when they become a Christian, failing to see that we are only as good and right as we take hold of God in righteousness and truth. And if they would look at the Scriptures, the Lord shows us plenty of cases where Christians are not simply “good” right away, but must labor and work to be sanctified and become righteous. Additionally, we see many cases in Scripture of people near to the true religion of God and yet they were corrupt and far from the Spirit of God. The Pharisees are a great example of this.

What God is showing in His Word is setting before us true paths that save us from this vanity, but that is only had when we take hold of God in the spirit of true religion. If we fail to take hold of God rightly, then our religion is in vain. This is precisely what James is laboring to show us (Jm 2:14-26), and Paul warns repeatedly of - that our religion can be useless and in vain - “We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2 Cor 6:1)

This happens when a person rejects the purpose of God’s religion being that of coming into true righteousness, then a person misses the path that God has set before us. It is only this path that preserves us from vanity and brings us into the true purpose of God, giving us light and salt. The tragedy today is that so many “rejoice in God” and express their belief in God’s promises for themselves, but they fail to see that God’s promises are joined with this path of righteousness. That it is only in taking hold of one that we have the other because the path of righteousness is the means of bringing us into the other.

Because people reject this true path of God they end up filling up themselves with works that are ultimately vain. They think that they serve God and man, but they serve that which is not really producing fruits of goodness, life, truth, repentance, humility, and true faith in their lives (or other’s). They spend their lives on controversy/debate, they serve their doctrines and prejudiced ideas about sin and truth, or live after emotionalism, experiences, and self infatuation. They spend their lives in service of these, never seeing the outcome of them, how far they are from true righteousness. They are deceived by their perceived “success', because they have rejected the testing stone of righteousness; therefore they are blind to any way of truly examining the outcome of their lives. They are blind to the sinfulness in all of these things, how they are contrary to God, and how they make their lives vain. All of this is happening because they have rejected the great foundation of righteousness.

This will always be the outcome of idolatry; rather than truly abiding in God, we abide in what has no life in it. Those who embrace the doctrines of men become lifeless and useless:

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” (Ps 115:4–8)

This is the danger of sin, but the problem with the commandments of men is that it has a great appearance of being the true religion of God, the true path of life, claiming to be upholding Truth when it will lead you away from it.

Therefore we have to not just take these “truths” for granted as right, but test and examine their fruits. We have to pay much closer attention to what we are allowing ourselves to believe about God, paying very close attention to what the Word teaches is true (Heb 2:1).

The commandments of men will bully people into submitting to them in the name of “well, this is what the Word of God says”, but we can spot them by their fruits, that they are contrary to the Spirit of God’s Word: they are contrary to true righteousness, justice, love, kindness, humility, equality, and godliness. Rooted in knowing that the purpose of God is this righteousness (1 Jn 3:7).

One of the ways we can spot the commandments of men is by seeing the outcome and fruit of them. After a season or two passes with these “seeds” of beliefs planted in the heart - what do they produce? What are they truly in nature? Are they righteous and godly, or are they vanity, darkness, and sin?

We see the effect of these sins in the lives of such people in how they become more full of sin, rather than less. They become heartless, selfish, and hateful, they also become more ignorant of truth and reality around them, rather than less. And the terrible effect it has on others is casting them into bondage and darkness, rather than light and goodness.

One of the great characteristics of such beliefs about God is that they are not built for reality, they also do not work life and lead people into repentance, godliness, and righteousness. Since they are rooted in vanity it will be rooted in an unreality, depending upon denying reality and common sense: “...who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Rom 1:18) It will also be secretly self-serving, serving the desire in people to simply feel that they “understand” but not having the true bread of understanding. All of this will depend upon lies, oversimplifications, and half-truths. Much like the image of the person who oppresses others for greed, they make others pay the cost of their riches by their oppression and robbery, so such people oppress others in their beliefs. Others must pay the cost of their unreality, and are oppressed in having their basic needs and lives denied for these lies. The commandments of men deny the true nature of God’s Word, they deny righteousness, reason, and true equality for one’s neighbor. They are all propped up and have no true substance.

These beliefs are like cardboard boats, crafted and “clever” to a person’s natural mind, yet they are utterly unrealistic and useless in nature. This is sadly the character, world view, and mindset of such people. They do not have things in real substance, it is all dependent upon these props. It is all about sustaining an idea, rather than thoughts and beliefs that truly stand in the test of the waves of real life.

Those who embrace the commandments of men often spend their lives in all this vanity. At first they can appear to be those who really honor God and Truth, but over time we will begin to see the real fruits of them, and this great vanity pouring out. Some of the great characteristics of this vanity is that they love to play at wisdom and dialogue, failing to see Truth is not a plaything, but a great ark crafted for the many waters of reality. They love to have world views that they will vehemently defend, failing to see that they’re simply serving the comfort of their simplified understanding of life — so that they don’t have to labor for real understanding. Their ideas about life do not really “float” and serve those around them. Jesus said that the greatest among us would be our servant, but they fail to see that their “truths” serve no one but themselves. It is all selfish and empty. Real truth must truly serve others, in nature. They have no real “bread” or “water” to give to the hungry soul in need. They have things that can pacify the mind in people, and this is why they are able to get so far — they seem to be helpful. But when the real flood waters come (Mt 7:24-27), when real need, oppression/injuce, suffering, desperation seeps in — they have no real help to give such a soul. Their boats do not float.

The difficulty is the great self deception of the heart. Such people will fully believe they serve God and man, but it is their unwillingness to look at the true fruit around them and see the real effect of their lives that keeps them self deceived.

Therefore, those who are deceived by the commandments of men are not just victims, they are choosing these over righteousness, and this is how we most clearly identify their works. How they choose other things over the real work of examining their ways and laboring in the work of righteousness. They are deceived because they are delighting in sinful ideas about God, contrary to true righteousness, rejecting righteousness, and choosing these over what God declares. They have delighted in the lie that the gospel sets them free from righteousness, rather than from sin. “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess 2:11-12)

They are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18), claiming to be wise in religion, yet becoming fools (Rom 1:22), and resisting the Light of Truth by a desire to maintain their ways over true conviction and correction (Jn 3:19 -21).

What God is teaching mankind is to really look and think, not for pride and sport, but to access our ways and see if they are truly good, right, and fair to everyone around us. This is what we see reflected by God in Isaiah 58 - there are all these people busy doing religious things, missing that the whole point is to get at real sin and oppression, and bring people to truly correct their ways, and do what is really good. But the commandments of men can fully miss this. Doing so by making a person so busy in their doctrines and religion that they miss the basic test of “is it really fair?” “Is it really good?” God labors to teach us to really think. To really look. To really listen. To really care. This is the work of righteousness!

God labors to get our attention and shows us our “boats that don’t float” — our ideas about life and God that are foolish, darkness, hateful, evil, or wrong. We must understand that sin is sin, wherever it is found, and this includes within religion. In fact, religion can often be the place God uses to expose our sinfulness in order to show us our sin and cleanse us. It is often in our very ideas and efforts after God that we are shown how wicked and foolish we really are.

Our need is to give room for reason, common sense, spiritual discernment, conscience, the Holy Spirit, and following the Word alone (not interpreted by the ideas of men). These, carried out in their true form, are the pillars of righteousness. We will find that the commandments of men actually oppose all of these, calling them dangerous and evil in one way or another, yet these are the very tools God has given us to use against deception and to work towards a real repentance and righteousness. If we will humbly examine our ways before God, and call out to God to lead us in the Truth, then God most certainly will.

When we use these tools, we are able to examine the fruit of our lives, and the fruits of others, which is precisely the wisdom Jesus teaches us (Mt 7:16). God’s wisdom is to examine if the fruit in a person’s life is truly righteous or not, using these tools to do so.

People are able to be deceived because they both reject these tools as evil and dangerous and reject them as their duty. To not simply believe their lives are good because they’re “following God”, but to really test the fruit of their ways and see if the substance of them, and their effect on others around them, is truly good. Yet these people live in a constant state of unreality and self deception, imagining they do good while the very people closest to them are practically half starved and dead. They’ve rejected the simple work to truly look and listen as if this would deceive them, as if this were not their duty, when this is the whole wisdom God is laboring to teach us in true righteousness. To possess the substance and fruits of goodness. The fruits of their lives and the fruits of their effects on those around them are a constant testimony against their ways, but they do not listen or look.

Therefore, God teaches all of us to examine our ways. To examine if our boats truly float - if they are working life and righteousness, or death and sin. To labor to understand righteousness in a real and practical sense.

The Christian is meant to be someone who deals in reality, who has given themself to the hard labor of understanding truth in a REAL sense. Not high on the sensation of feeling they understand (pride), but humbly laboring to really understand God and righteousness, and the course of life God has set before us. Our Christianity is meant to be used. One of the great fruits of the doctrines of men is that it dreams it is useful but in reality it is useless and even worse than useless, it actively maims and hinders others.

Drifting with the Current of Religious Thought

Part of the reason why the commandments of men have such a powerful effect is because many Christians believe the lie that they are on some “automatic track” to heaven, believing that being a Christian is automated. They do not see that their lives are continually determined by everything that they choose. And that if they would simply look around, they would see that this belief of “all Chrsitians are on an automatic path to good” is just not true.

We must see that we are continually choosing what to believe about God, and this is producing the fruit in our lives that we have. If we would see this, then we would understand just how responsible we are to continually examine our ways and take hold of God rightly. We’d also understand that one of God’s purposes in our lives is to continually show us the false beliefs we have about Him, life, meaningfulness, truth, and so on, and correct these things. That it is within these beliefs that sin is rooted most in our nature, therefore, it is our continual work to be sanctified in the spirit of our minds (Eph 4:23, Rom 12:2).

We are continually operating from all these little assumptions, values, and beliefs, choosing them, and these are shaping our whole life. We are choosing what to obey, what we are valuing in our minds and hearts, and what to follow after.

The world operates from a current in these things (Eph 2:2), taking things as automatic, yet the church can operate from the very same worldliness of simply going with the current of popular thought about God and truth. This is where the power of the commandments of men lies strongest. Many are giving themselves up to the mere current of this religious age, obeying the traditions of men in regard to religion. Failing to see how they begin to serve the mere culture and assumptions of a kind of religiousness, rather than truly following Christ. Such people assume that the religious age around them is the same as the living God, and they become deceived by the commandments of men in this way.

Many obey and serve the mere ideas of men about God, they obey their precepts and ideas about God and sin, failing to see how they are choosing this over God. That they are responsible to keep themselves as slaves to God alone, and to serve Him alone (Lk 4:8).

The evil effects of the commandments of men upon others is that it enslaves believers to precepts that do not give real life, but kills. Many are brought into bondage and downright abuse because of the ideas of men in what it means to “obey God”. Yet many take it to be the same in rejecting these precepts of men as rejecting God and righteousness, when the two are very different.

Many today are coming to see that much of what they’re being taught about God is not working the goodness and life they’re told it will. We live in a day where we are continually taught assumptions about what is “of God” and ideas about what it means to obey Him in one truth or another. Yet all these things are rooted in beliefs about what they mean. Many are finding that these ideas and assumptions are concerning, because they are seeing how they aren’t leading to righteousness. Yet when people are seeking to face the assumptions and automatic teachings about God, and examine if they’re working real righteousness, they are taught that this is wrong, as if people are rejecting and opposing God when what they are doing is opposing man’s ideas about God.

When we look at these complexities, we see that the doctrine that people are simply “following God” when they become Christians just isn’t true. The promise of God is given to us in the true path of Christ, in true righteousness and godliness - we have a great hope in Christ! Yet it is only in truly keeping this path that we have this assurance and good outcome. Much like if a person set out to sea on a sailboat and they merely drifted with the currents, they would soon be utterly lost at sea or shipwrecked. Instead, it is the person who navigates the currents, steers their boat, makes good use of wind, watches against bad weather and dangers - this is the person who is actively setting their course and will reach it.

We see that there certainly are things that are “automatic”, there are currents in the church of ideas about God, but actually, these often oppose God just as much as any current of the world. And for all of us, we are responsible for what we choose to walk in, if we allow these currents to direct our whole Christian course, or if we set godliness and righteousness before, and seek after God in these.

Such assumed beliefs as this “automatically on the road to good” denies how much sin can show up in a religious person’s life, the same as any unbeliever. Our success in God is determined by what we choose, if we are striving to enter in, if we are examining the real fruit of our ways, laboring for righteousness of life, and by what we are deciding to believe about God. In all of these areas, sin can enter in and corrupt us.

Many people do not want to take up the cross of true accountability for their lives and choices, to bring these into obedience to Christ, therefore they simply flow with the current of this religious age, rather than rowing and navigating truly after God, and the effect of such living is that we are not brought into the substance, worth, a goodness that Scripture promises we will become in Christ.

Many take for granted that they are following God, they bless themselves as having the promises of God given to those who truly follow Him, yet they do not see how they have been taken away from this path because they are simply following the current of the Christianity around them (Eph 2:2), instead of Christ, failing to see how this can be just as much the current of the world as anything the “worldly” person follows. Whereas it is only the person who truly follows CHRIST who has the promises of God for safety and substance.

What God has given us in Christ is the ability to form substance and value. This is the whole purpose of God in Christ, that “we might become the righteousness of God,” in Christ (2 Cor 5:21). The trouble today is how much Christians get off of this path of true worth and yet bless themselves as having it when they don’t! This is one of the great effects of the commandments of men.

Many bless themselves that they are “light and salt” in the world, failing to see that they do not possess this substance. Failing to see that it is only when we row sincerely after God in righteousness and godliness, resisting the currents of all that contradict this, that we come into this great substance and light. God fully intends for us to have this, but it is only had when we set our course truly by God. One of the very great signs that we are off course, that we are not abiding in God but in man, is that we are lacking this great substance of light and salt!

The outcry today is that so many Christians run around calling themselves light and salt, when the world can see how foolish, childish, blind, self-serving, and evil they still are! But the purpose of God is that we would possess real light and salt! This is what Christ died for! (Tit 2:11-14). It is only when we possess true righteousness and godliness that we are real light and salt.

Though God intends all Christians to be this light and salt, many are content to bless themselves with the mere title of these things rather than laboring for the substance. These are those who are salt without taste, worthless and good for nothing. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Mt 5:13) Only when we begin to take up the cross of true accountability for our lives, true accountability to righteousness, and true accountability for what we are believing about God, will we begin to produce real light and salt in our lives.

Many Christians today are content to “rejoice in God”, failing to see how evil their beliefs about God are, and the harmful fruit coming from their beliefs about God. Part of taking accountability for ourselves is in taking accountability for what we are believing about God. Examining the fruit of our ways.

Many in the church adopt certain beliefs about God, and to their minds these seem to be right doctrine and good, but over time they find the fruit that is born by such beliefs is not as good as they assumed it would be. If only Christians would deal honestly here! Not to then turn and double down or say that God and religion are false, but to see our doctrines and beliefs about God are! That such beliefs are revealing our sinfulness. To take this rebuke from God and repent. If we would only deal honestly with the fruit of our ways God would be able to really teach us the truth about sin, righteousness, worldliness, and godliness, and be able to impart in us true knowledge of God. We would begin to possess true light and salt, drawing closer to God and possessing spiritual doctrine.

What we believe about God can be very sinful, springing from a sinful and ignorant mind in us, and sinful values/desires within. All of these things can exist in us as we begin as Christians, especially when the church is teaching such things about God! But as we go on as Christians we begin to reap the “first harvest” of our ways, and this is where we must begin to truly examine the actual outcome of our ways. Not what we dream them to be, but what they actually are. We must look at the fruit of our lives, must look at the fruit of what we believe about God.

If the church of God would only be honest today about the real fruit it's producing, she would see that a great portion of it is springing from one place — the beliefs we’ve taken up from the doctrines of men. The beliefs in the heart set the entire course of our life (Prov 4:23). And it is often only when we begin to see the fruit of these beliefs that we see how sinful they really were. But if we double down on these beliefs, deceived that this is faith in God, then we fail to take the evidence of truth that God intends to deliver us from the deception of false beliefs.

Fruit that is of God is that which is holy, humble, reasonable, gentle, kind, eager for good, fair for all, just, works equality, love rooted in holiness — all that works godliness and righteousness. So when our ways poison us, either in body or spirit, with pride, conceit, unreasonableness, love of strife, unfairness, injustice, “love” opposed to its root being holiness, hatred, prejudice, naivety, and foolishness, then we are meant to see that within us we are valuing things, believing things, contrary to the Truth of God.

Laboring to Remain Awake Unto God

We must labor to bear the true cross of God in this world, and be very careful that we do not accept the false cross of the commandments of men. Many have been led astray down this path, failing to see the true spirit and fruits of its ways. Let us pay much closer attention to what we are told, careful how we hear. “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” (Lk 8:18)

Our hope is in God. The Lord is fully willing and able to deliver us from all this deception, but we must see that God directs us to our duty in this as a means of delivering us. When we obey God and begin to study the Word carefully, to pray for His help and light, to examine the spirit in things, access the fruit in our lives and that of others, give every effort after godliness and righteousness, then we see that God preserves us by these very things. The battle belongs to the Lord, but we must go out with the swords of obedience.

It would be an error to take this to mean that God wants us to rely on ourselves. For we can see just how easily blind and deceived we are! Yet the Lord is showing us the opposite error, that when we say we’re “trusting in God” but we’re taking this to not stay awake, to do our duty, to fight, to stand firm, pray, and labor to enter in — this is the great error so many of us have fallen into in the name of “trusting in God”.

The Lord is teaching us the nature of our relationship with Him, that we are responsible for what we choose, and what we choose sets the course of our lives. We need to wake up to this, and labor by God’s grace to take up the responsibilities of our lives in a real way.

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” (2 Cor 11:2–4)

May the Lord help you. May the Lord open your eyes to understand all of His Word, to know the truth about sin, and to see what it really looks like in this world. To open your eyes to righteousness and to see its fullness and greatness, and to seek it as the single treasure of your life. May God bless you and keep you in all of this.

" them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you."

Gal 2:5
Sincerity Towards God Hijacked by the Commandments of Men

Sincerity Towards God Hijacked by the Commandments of Men

Abiding in Man vs Abiding in God

The Nature of Those Who Choose the Commandments of Men

Fruits of the Commandments of Men

Disrespecting the Conscience in Man

Losing God and Religion as a False Solution to the Commandments of Men

God’s Ways Are the Only Ways Built for Reality

Drifting with the Current of Religious Thought

Laboring to Remain Awake Unto God

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