The Opiate of Religion
One of the greatest obstacles to overcoming the bondage of the world is “religion”.
The question arises “What is Religion”.
Amongst both ancients and modern writers the popular etymology of the word religion suggests that it was derived from the word religare meaning "to bind fast", via notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans and gods."1
If this is the origin of the word religion then we should expect that to be bound in or to our respective religion and we would fulfill its imposed obligations with loyal and faithful dedication. Another questions may arise as to the nature of those bonds and the forms or rites of the religious obligations imposed?
If “Man’s primary allegiance is to his vision of truth, And he is under obligation to affirm it.”2 And if “Allegiance is, as it were, the essence of the law; it is the bond of faith.”3 Then faith in Christ would bind us to caring for the needy by faith, hope and charity.
According to the Bible pure religion is concerned with the way in which we maintain or attend to the needy of our society.4 If Jesus said the “weightier matters” are “law, judgment, mercy, and faith”5 and if pure religion is how we attend to the obligation of loving God and our neighbor, then we certainly should know that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”6
In other words the pureness of our religion is evident in how we love one another.7
Jesus Christ was king. It was for that cause that he came into the world. Christ is the truth and certainly our primary allegiance8 and faith should be in God the Father and His Son. It is to Him we should be praying for our salvation or our daily bread. Our primary obligation should be to God yet men may obligate themselves to other men by contract and deed so that obligations and duties arise. This is undoubtedly why were were warned about making contracts and agreements with other men.9
Allegiance” is “The obligation of fidelity and obedience which the individual owes to the government under which he lives, or to his sovereign in return for the protection he receives. It may be an absolute and permanent obligation, or it may be a qualified and temporary one.”10
Here we see more questions arising.
Is Jesus a king? 11
Did he preach and tell us to preach a kingdom?12
Was it at hand?13
Did he appoint that kingdom?14
Where is your natural allegiance?15
Were you born in His kingdom or some other kingdom?16
Where do you look for security and benefits?17
Did He give us some “DOs” and “DON'Ts” concerning our religion?
Most of what we see posing as religion today fails to meet the context we see in the Bible for religion. In truth most religions bear no similarity to that divinely inspired description of “pure religion”.
Another possible origin connection is the word religiens meaning "careful," and the opposite of negligens. It had the meaning of a "particular system of faith"back in the 1300s. The Church use to be the entire system of social welfare. That social welfare system based upon free will offerings had previously bound entire nations together in a system of care, law and mercy.
The early Church was composed of those ministers called out by Jesus and trained to serve the people as benefactors who did not exercise authority one over the other but as servants of the people operating by faith, hope and charity rather than the policies of other governments.18
The called out of Christ was His Church.19 They worked in one accord as a body. They did not rule over each other but neither did they rule over others. Yet, there were others who claimed to do things in Christ's name who were not a part of His Church. The apostles were told by Christ to allow others to do so.20 Christ will sort out those who are saved and those who are not. Christ tell of those who do not know they are saved and are brought into the kingdom 21 and those who think they are servants of Christ that are cast away.22
Who is really for Christ?
Who is really His Church?
How will we know who is on the Lord's side?
There were some calling themselves the Church who did not leave men alone when they professed God according to their own conscience. They exiled, persecuted and even murdered those who did not agree with their private doctrines or refused to submit to their exercising authority. They did all that in the name of Christ.
Were they taking the name of God and Christ in vain?
There have always been many who claim to be of Christ and were not. We were warned in the scriptures to be wary of them.23 Can we use the scripture as a reproof of deception. As clear as we may imagine that the scriptures are there use should always be done with great precaution, patience and prayer.
Since we have no private right of interpretation how do we know what is right and what is wrong?
Should we eat of the tree of knowledge again?
Imposing the doctrines of men upon other men is clear evidence that someone is not following Christ.24 We also know that false doctrine will produce false religion which will bring the people back in bondage under a strong delusion.25 The evidence of this delusion is the willing acceptance of unrighteousness by the people.26 And our protection from that snare, besides seeking righteousness in our relationship with our fellow man is only found in the sanctification27 of the Holy Spirit.28
So, where is the truth to be found?
How do we discern the truth in a world filled with lies and deception?
How do we know if our faith within a religion or its doctrines is an illusion or the truth?
How will we know what we are reading in the scriptures is the interpretation of God or a private interpretation of our own?
How will we know if we be drugged or sober?
Drugged or Sober29
People are fond of attributing the phrase “Religion is the opiate of the people.” to Karl Mark. What he actually said30 would lead us to believe that Karl's criticism is that religion is used as a substitute for those who have not yet found the truth about themselves. He believed people used religion as a substitute to make life in an unjust world tolerable. Karl's problem and the problem of those who followed him is that they do not want to wait until men find the truth. They wish to impose their personal truth, their doctrine, on everyone else.
From Cain, the father of all dictators, until now men have tried to establish the kingdom of the world by force and violence.31
This idea of drugging the people so that they do not bear the true burden of the sins of society was possibly an echo of the Marquis de Sade. De Sade wrote the words of Juliette to King Ferdinand:
“...maintaining the people in dependence, shuts them out from wealth; their ills are thus rendered beyond remedy, and the political state is in a situation no less grave than the civil government, since it must seek its strength in its very weakness.... You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you encourage ignorance. This opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you.”32
He continued with his criticism of induced apathy and ignorance concerning civil government's taste for “trivial things” consistently replacing “a taste for great ones.” Religions have done the same thing for centuries of man's history, straining at gnats and swallowing camels. They often focus people's attention on a list of essential doctrines that avoid the doing often required by Christ for eternal life.33 Christ specified what the weightier matters were and did not come to lift all burden from the people.34 We know that the slothful should be under tribute35
Marquis de Sade was a proponent of extreme freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion or law. Karl Marx believed that socialism through the god of the masses would regulate themselves to utopia. They both wallowed in their own illusions.
Christ, on the other hand, was a realist and offered no illusions. He told us to repent, seek the kingdom of heaven individually and the righteousness of God the Father, the giver of life, and He advised the ministers of his government to teach the people to observe the commandments.36
Some might think the ultimate question to be "Is Marx right, or is Jesus right?"
Is Marx right, or is Jesus/Truth or Consequences
The truth is they are both right. The problem is that all religions are not created equal. First, most people have a completely different understanding of what religion is compared to the Bibles usage of the term pure religion.37
A few years after Marx, Charles Kingsley, Canon of the Church of England, wrote “We have used the Bible as if it were a mere special constable's hand book, an opium dose for keeping beasts of burden patient while they were being overloaded, a mere book to keep the poor in order.”38
But everyone should know that:
“All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:16
So, by this verse it would seem that while scripture is profitable for doctrine it is not doctrine itself. While it is useful for reproof and correction and even for instruction and is the result of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon the minds and hearts of the authors, it is not inspiration it self.
The Comforter or Holy Spirit is sent to all and not just some elite group. It is that Spirit born in you39, as we are baptized of Christ and not water alone,40 abiding in you,41 teaching you,42 testifying to you,43 guiding you44 that should be inspiring our understanding of what is written or spoken45 by inspiration of that Holy Spirit.46 It is clear that we are told that the ultimate teacher of the faithful is the Holy Spirit. To those who do not believe in the power of God working in the hearts and minds of the people they will imagine that without scripture there is no standard. They will think the leading of the Holy Spirit is nothing but a feeling and will lead to chaos.
The clarity of the Bible can bear witness to the standards of the Holy Spirit but reading the scriptures does not guarantee the inspiration of the individual by the Holy Spirit. This is why chaos reigns in Christendom. Those who say the Holy Spirit is not enough, is not the standard blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost.47
Those who do not accept the validity of the invisible Holy Spirit leading the Church one individual at a time will ultimately imagine that they must compel their private interpretation48 of the Bible upon others or chaos will reign in Christendom. Chaos presently reigns in what is posing as Christendom because the power of the Spirit is denied as men try to decide what is good and what is evil by the knowledge they think they obtain from the biblical text.
The idea that man must erect his own itemized standard around which all other must conform and rally is at the core of the problem.
The gospel of the kingdom is simple... seek the kingdom and to do righteousness to all, love one another as Christ loved us, if you love Christ keep the commandments, forgive that ye may be forgiven, freely give and freely receive.
Forming lists of things that you must believe that have little or nothing relationship to doing the will of the Father is nothing more than lip service, and does not serve or worship God. The ultimate idol becomes religion itself. Its rites and rituals become a mindless activity. Filled with superstitious practices void of practicality or purpose, charity is dissipated in the people, institutions of force and violence rise up to be the benefactors of the people with the apostate Church pandering to vanity and pride, deluding the people into a state of false salvation.
Religion, in many forms, is commonly used to bind people and even to weld the chains of their own bondage. Religious systems that compel the offerings of the people bind the people by covetous contract and debt. This is seen with the Corban of the Pharisees practiced in many modern societies.49
Another way religion binds the people is through private theological interpretations of the prophecy of scriptures are. First, the New Testament had not been established as a book yet when Peter wrote those words. The word scripture is merely referring to writings. Second, the word prophecy is not exclusively the predicting of the future. It is translated from the Greek word50 which means “a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God...”
To understand the Bible and reap the rewards of its inspiration. You must also be inspired.
It is the Holy Spirit that is to be our guide, our teacher, our comforter....
Religion, NN Video Series:9-10 4:27
What is it and who does it?
The Opiate of Religion
The Corban of the Pharisees
It made the word of God to none effect.
Is our Corban making the word of God to none effect today?
The Nicolaitan who God hates?
Because they covet their neighbor's goods
Baptism, the Ritual and the Jurisdiction
Are Christians repenting and getting baptized or are they just all wet?