Bible Studies for Life Lesson for June 13- When Religion Fails
May 31 2010 by Dale Austin Jr., associate pastor, Wakeminster Baptist Church, Raleigh

Focal Passages: 1 Samuel 4:3-5, 10, 20-22; 5:1-4; 6:19-21

Christianity is not a religion. Religion is man’s attempt to reach God, while Christianity is God reaching down to a sinful man to provide salvation and fellowship.

Christianity is not a religion, but it is a perfect relationship initiated by God and sealed with the blood of Jesus, the Messiah. Religions always fail.

The passages we will be studying this week show us how religious actions on our part do not influence God to follow our lead or for God to support our choices and actions. 

Our study this week picks up where we left off in our June 6 study. Samuel confronts Eli, the priest, with the behavior of Eli’s priestly sons, and he informs Eli of God’s displeasure.

A period of time has passed, and Israel is encountering issues with the Philistines.

The sons of Eli (Phinehas and Hophni) take the Ark of the Covenant to lead Israel’s army to battle the Philistines.

This initially looks to be a good idea, but what happens is a disaster for Israel, because God had not authorized the Ark to be moved.

The Ark ends up being captured, the armies of Israel are defeated, and the sons of Eli perish.

Eli is so distraught that he falls out of his chair, breaks his neck, and he also dies. Things don’t go much better for the Philistines. They do not respect the Ark of the Covenant, and God sends a curse on each city that ends up housing the Ark until the Philistines, in desperation, send the Ark back to the people of Israel. The people of Israel were misled by the leadership of the priests, Phinehas and Hophni.  

These two priests treated the Ark as a good-luck charm instead of something holy that belonged to God.

They had wrapped religion around the Ark, and it had replaced the leadership of God.

Today, it is so easy to fall into the same trap that the people of Israel did. Our society displays crosses on common jewelry not as a declaration of the crucifixion but more as a good-luck charm just like these priests did.

I can remember a co-worker from many years ago that had a keychain full of various religious symbols that she kept attached to her purse.

When I asked her about it, she said that she had them “just in case.”

Well, that is not how God works. He wants us to have a relationship with Him and to follow Him by active prayer, Bible study, and meditation on Him instead of trying to use some religious symbol, donation, or some other religious action to influence God’s hand into standing with us.

Do you treat your time with God as a religion, or is it a growing relationship where we become more like Him?
5/31/2010 5:31:00 AM by Dale Austin Jr., associate pastor, Wakeminster Baptist Church, Raleigh | with 0 comments

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