The Religious Rat Race
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
The rat race is a term to describe getting ahead in the business world by fighting and clawing your way past others to get ahead. When religion is based on control instead of faith, we see believers striving and competing with one another to try to gain approval and acceptance with God and the Christian world.
But our race with God is a grace race, not a rat race. Part of our liberty in Christ is freedom from religion, religion being described as human efforts to please God or manipulate Him into action. Being religious, in this sense of the word, describes someone who may have made the initial approach to God in faith for salvation, but then slipped back into a reliance on self to achieve a continual good standing with God. This is a condition of someone that attempts to earn approval with God based on his or her ability to be good and to do good.
In Galatians 3:3 Paul writes, “having begun in the spirit are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Our relationship with God didn’t start based on our works, so why would we think we could continue to maintain this Christian life based on our works? God never meant for us to look at His ways as something we had to try to attain by our efforts. God wants relationship with us based on living by His Spirit, not a position based on rules being kept by relying on our flesh, or our strength.
Christ set us free from this religious thinking and the sin consciousness that fuels this mentality. Shame, guilt, and fear are not the result of receiving grace by faith; the sin consciousness is the result of the self-reliance of flesh. The sin consciousness doesn’t just affect someone who hasn’t experienced salvation; it also affects the person who hasn’t learned to live by the Spirit.
When we live by the Spirit, we live reliant on the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. We have His strength to renew our minds to peace, joy, and love. We lean on God’s unlimited ability instead of trusting in our limited ability. We rely on His redemptive power to continue to be transformed to become like Him. Living in the Spirit, we no longer have to be better than someone else to earn our approval and acceptance. We are not in the religious rat race, but the freedom grace race!
Application: People in religious bondage like to tear others down in order to build themselves up. If you find yourself criticizing others, take a look at your own heart. Ask God to help you receive and give grace.