Towards Being A People In Rest (The adverse effects of religion)

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Series: The Rest of God; The Finished Works

Sun am 22 November 2015 – Kobus Swart

John 3:13; John 19:28-30; (Matt. 26:61); John 19:2; Rev. 1:4-6;
Num. 21:6-9; 2 Cor. 5:21; (Ps. 22); 
Heb. 7:22 (Message);
(Matt. 12:8); (2 Cor. 11:14); (Matt. 12:10-12); Matt. 23:13-28;
Heb. 8:13; 
(John 8:32); Heb. 10:1-2, 14; (2 Cor. 5:17); Heb. 9:8;
(Gen. 4:26); Matt. 11:28-30 (Message)

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit (John 19:28-30). Even before He went to the cross in His heart He knew all things had already been accomplished. When He said, “It is finished”, all the heavens heard Him – except the ears of man!

Jesus had no respect for the structure of the temple (Matt. 26:61). He talked about a place where He could find rest. He would not have found rest in the structure of the temple. In the tabernacle of Moses, only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies once a year. When Jesus said, “It is finished”, He included that. There is no more Holy of Holies which is exclusively accessible to the High Priest once a year. At His death the veil was rent from top to bottom. That changed a lot of things. Access is now given to all. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be  kings and priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen (Rev. 1:4-6). But then religion came and interfered. On the cross the sin problem was finally dealt with.  Sin is not God’s problem; religion is! When the Israelites in the wilderness were bitten by snakes – in order to be saved from death – they had to look up to the serpent on a pole (Num. 21:6-9). We do not really understand what happened when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus was made sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21). Creation shut down for three hours and went into darkness when He was on the cross. The sight was too much to bear. As we look to Him and accept the words, “It is finished” we are saved from death, like the Israelites were saved as they looked at the bronze serpent on the pole.

Jesus is the guarantee of a far better way, one that really works; a new covenant. The old covenant was made obsolete by the death of Jesus (Heb. 7:22; 8:13). He is not only the guarantee but also our intercessor; He is praying for us.

Jesus also became known as the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8). The Sabbath is a place in God, a people in whom God can rest. Religion has kept us away from this truth. Religion has tried to keep us away from our inheritance. The word used for satan is ‘adversary’ and that comes from the word ‘adverse’, meaning ‘against’ or ‘opposite.’ Satan is a religious spirit. He comes as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) and his ministers as ministers of righteousness. He will do anything to stand between you and the truth. He will try to block the entrance to the real experiences made possible by the death of Jesus.

Jesus did most of His miracles on the Sabbath. The religious order of the day gave Jesus a hard time (Matt. 12:10-12). “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation” (Matt. 23:13-28).

Religious people always want to point out the wrong in another. That is sin consciousness. Let us teach people truth because Jesus said that you will know the truth and that truth will set you free (John 8:32). For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? (Heb. 10:1-2) In Christ you are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Even though you are a new creation, you still battle with certain habits and thoughts but you are in the process of being cleansed to perfection. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Heb. 10:14). In the meantime the process of being sanctified is still on.

We have to guard against having a sin-consciousness! The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing (Heb. 9:8). That means that as long as I have an outer court mentality, ie. a sin consciousness, I will not enter the Holy of Holies even though it is open and accessible. One needs to have a change, a transformed mind. That is why on-going transformation is so important for us. You have to be lovers of the word, listen and absorb and let the Word work in you.

God is looking for a place, a building, yet not made with hands; not with bricks and cement. He is looking for a building which is His Body. That Body is a place where He will find rest. That Body of people will be called ‘the Sabbath’, which has been set aside way back in Genesis 2. He sanctified the seventh day, which had no morning and no evening. Adam and Eve lived the first day of their life on the Sabbath of God. Then sin entered and then religion started. After the Fall of man, the very people who lived with God in the garden, walked with Him in the cool of the day; began to call on the name of the Lord once they were chased out of the garden (Gen. 4:26). Suddenly there was a distance. That was the beginning of religion!

Religion will keep you busy in the wrong direction. In Hebrews 4 the Sabbath is called the ‘TODAY’. Today when you hear His voice, believe; do not be like Israel when the word came, it was not united in their hearts by faith. When we hear the word of the Lord and embrace it, we enter a ‘kairos’. ‘chronos’ is the normal unfolding of time, one day after another; ‘kairos’ is an invasion of God, an interruption of God into your ‘chronos’ time. With the birth of Jesus, with the incarnation, God broke into human history and started the season called TODAY. All the promises of the Old Testament that carried the phrase, “In that day” became today. Religion also makes you postpone. If we postpone we will find ourselves aliens in the land of promise. We cannot remain aliens in a land that was fully provided. He who promised is faithful.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30). Religion puts a heavy burden on people. Religion can make you tired and wear you out. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matt. 11:28-30-Message Bible). I don’t want to pursue anything that is not in the rhythms of grace. Find rest by walking with Jesus.