Jesus Without Religion
Mike Cynar grew up in church and observed that countless people would go to church and then just stop. The church always referred to them as ‘fake Christians’ or ‘backsliders’ but Mike discovered the problem was deeper. The problem was the church message. The message was 90% behavior improvement and how bad you are, with a pinch of who you are in Christ.
Week after week “I” gave God all that my flesh would allow me to.
“I” took on committee roles at church. “I” instructed the Sunday School. “I” contributed until it was painful. “I” tested all possibilities, yet always sensed a detachment from God. Despite my faith in Jesus, I never felt truly secure. My personal struggles were known to me, and I was aware God saw them too. At times, “I” succumbed to lustful glances. Occasionally, “I” consumed one more beer than was wise. Sometimes, “I” found it challenging to forgive others. More often than not, “I” simply didn’t feel like delving into the Bible – merely absorbing what was shared from the pulpit, which inadvertently became a part of my issue. The more earnestly I strived, the more I observed how “I” failed to measure up. The crux of the problem was my presumption that my intimacy with God was tied directly to “I”, and this led me to overlook who the real focus should be: “Jesus”.
Then one day while reading my bible I came across Galatians 5:18 which would change my life forever.
Upon reading the scriptural verse, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law,” I found myself instantly doubting my understanding. Surely we are subject to the law. If not, wouldn’t the many ministers I’ve listened to over the years have enlightened me about this? Naturally, my ensuing step was to revisit the church leaders to seek clarity on its true meaning. Seemingly, everyone I conversed with concurred that I had misinterpreted, and they dispensed advice such as, despite our salvation, the law still serves as our compass. It educates us, they insisted. It prevents us from sinning, they proposed. When viewed through the lens of religion, it all seemed perfectly logical. Therefore, while embracing the notion that I was, indeed, still beholden to the law, I remained trapped in spiritual bondage, persistently feeling like a dreadful sinner (regardless of my strenuous efforts) and consequently feeling estranged from God.
By the grace and kindness of God, I stumbled upon a few other verses like Gal 3:13
Scriptures like “God redeemed us from the curse of the law” and Romans 5:20 – “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase” as well as Romans 10:4 – “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”, are inspiring verses scattered throughout the New Testament. The unveiling of this truth caused my eyes to open wider than ever before. However, I still faced a predicament. Religion had indoctrinated me to believe that if I was free from the law, then that would amount to a blank check to sin, implying that God is indifferent towards sin. The more I spoke about our liberty in Christ and emancipation from the law, the more my religious counterparts would underscore this potential license to sin. A part of me agreed, at the time, and I questioned, “Doesn’t unrestricted freedom and unconditional forgiveness, irrespective of our behavior, simply pave the way for us to indulge in our whims?” Doesn’t it encourage us to strive for a sin-filled record? Fortunately, I found the answer to this quandary in the scripture as well!
It turns out, as is true with most Christians, I was missing the second part of the Gospel.
It appears that, like most Christians, I was only focusing on one aspect of the Gospel: Jesus’s sacrifice and how His blood absolved the sins of all who would believe in Him. However, the Gospel carries a second, equally important message: Jesus’s resurrection! At long last, I discovered the answer. Our faith not only grants us forgiveness for our sins, but also, through Christ’s resurrection, fulfills an Old Testament promise found in Ezekiel 36:26 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you”. In simpler terms, I learned that we don’t require the law as a guide because we have God’s Spirit dwelling within us to guide and counsel us, and He will never lead us towards sin – though we all falter in many ways (James 3:2).
You see, our closeness with God is not a behavior issue.
You see, our intimacy with God is not a matter of conduct. It’s a matter of spiritual birthright. It’s about where you find your spiritual identity – dead in Adam, or alive in Christ. While Jesus’s sacrifice and blood completely paid for our sins, we required something else. We needed life. Without it, we’d simply be absolved sinners, yet still spiritually deceased in Adam. We celebrate this in baptism, yet often overlook its true meaning. Indeed, we were buried with Christ, but we were also raised with Him (Colossians 2:12) and made alive with Him (Colossians 2:13). Christ’s resurrection provided us with that NEW LIFE, altering our desires. No amount of forgiveness is going to prompt our newly born selves to indulge more in sin.
1 Peter 1:3
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”
Jesus told us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
The law is neither simple nor lenient, and it leaves us shackled and feeling separated from God. Jesus is not just the answer to salvation, but also the solution for everyday life, averting sin, and He alone is our guide, not the law.
God made a promise to those who believe that He would remember our sins NO MORE. He wiped them clean. He declared that even if we are faithless, He remains faithful. He affirmed that those who believe are NOT condemned (John 3:18).
Indeed, God’s nature is immutable. However, the covenant did change. There’s the Old Covenant (law) and there’s the New Covenant (grace). Hebrews 8 articulates that the New Covenant is NOT akin to the Old one, and by designating this one as “new,” He has rendered the first one obsolete.
Will we at JesusWithoutReligion.com get it wrong sometimes?
I assume so, but as Paul said in Phil 1:18 “though Christ may be preached with true or false motives”, it really didn’t matter as long as Christ is preached. We teach from our hearts as we believe Christ has led us, and no matter what, Jesus will always be at the core of our teaching. We believe God’s grace and kindness toward us is immeasurable and we want to see believers soak in it.
That’s why this website was started. To share the gospel in its fullness. To free people from religious bondage. To share the love and kindness of Gods grace. To teach it’s all about Jesus, without religion.