Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. . . .
So why then, if you are dead with Christ from the elements of the world, are you subject to ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men?”
Paul, from Colossians 2:14, 20, 22
“But an hour is coming, and is here already, when true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is a spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Jesus, from John 4:23-24
The root of every religious ceremony that exists is envy. Religious ceremony is the earthly expression of Satan’s envy of God’s power and glory. And he has cunningly persuaded humans to act as the agents of his envy. In fact, he fooled us all. But Jesus has rescued some of us from his craftiness, and we are trying to pass this light along to you.
Men conduct marriage ceremonies because only God can really join men and women together as one, and Satan is envious of that glory. Men ceremonially baptize each other because only God can really baptize people, and Satan envies that glory. Men conduct “communion supper” ceremonies because only God really has a communion to share with His saints. Men ceremonially join churches because there really is a body of Christ, and just one, into which we may all enter by faith, and Satan is envious of that glory.
The reason our flesh so willingly performs the ceremonies that imitate what God really does is that those ceremonies may be performed with no repentance, no knowledge of God, no love of God, no truth, no righteousness, and no hope. In other words, the Devil himself can conduct ceremonies and then say that it is the work of God. And every time one of us poor, blind humans conducts one of Christianity’s ceremonies, Satan is doing it-through us-and in the process, he is stealing some of the glory that we should be giving only to God.
Nothing is the work of God except the work of God, who works all things “according to the counsel of His own will” and by the power of His Spirit. Try to remember this: If the holy Ghost is not doing it, then God is not doing it. Whatever God does among us, He does by His Spirit.
Consider your own experiences. Was your baptism scheduled by a man, or did you receive your baptism when God was satisfied by your confession of sin and repentance? Did a man baptize you using an earthly substance (water) or did Jesus baptize you with the holy Ghost from heaven? Ministers of Christ minister to people “in spirit and truth”, using heavenly substance; ministers of Satan minister in ceremony and form, using earthly elements. Was your baptism a ceremony or a real life experience with God? If a ceremony, then it was of the Devil; if it was an experience in your soul by the Spirit, then it was the work of God.
This is the sum of it: Men practice religious ceremonies and say that God is working through those ceremonies because God is doing nothing. If God was doing something, the ceremony would get in the way. If “the communion of the holy Ghost” was poured out on a congregation while they were performing Satan’s imitation of communion, those people would spill their wine on their nice clothes and choke on the bread when they began to speak in tongues.
See ceremonies for what they are and avoid them. Wherever you see a ceremony being performed, understand that the ceremony is there because God is not.