Seven ways religion damages hope


You can learn a lot about hope from watching the movies. When I was a kid I saw The Neverending Story, and for some reason one scene has endured in my memory. It’s the scene where Atreyu is confronted by Gmork, the wolf-like servant of the Nothing. Atreyu asks Gmork why he is helping the Nothing destroy the world and stirring up despair. Gmork the wolf replies:

Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!

Hope is a powerful weapon. Hope gives you strength and courage to endure. Hope keeps you free, and this is why religion hates hope.

I hope you understand that when I talk about religion, I don’t mean the church down the road and the nice vicar who serves there. I’m talking about an institution that sells itself as a kind of insurance business but is in fact a slaver. That’s what the word religion literally means – “to bind” – and that’s what religion actually does. It binds people.

Jesus wants you free, but religion wants you bound with guilt and fear. Why? Because those who have no hope are easier to control. It’s all in the movie.

Do not allow yourselves to be shaken from the hope you gained when you heard the gospel. (Col 1:23, GNB)

To stay in business, religion must shake your hope, and it does this seven ways:

1. Religion damages hope by diminishing God’s love

Love is the tree on which hope grows. Religion damages hope by portraying God as:

  • angry: “God is mad at you. God hates you.”
  • punitive: “God will judge you, scourge you, punish you.”
  • temperamental: “When you sin God withdraws from you.”
  • disapproving: “Tut, tut, God is not pleased when he looks at you.”
  • critical: “God will put you through one test after another to see if you’re any good.”

The hopeless picture you get is that while God may believe in your potential, he doesn’t believe in you. Which is not true, because God does believe in you.

2. Religion damages hope by undermining truth

Since hope must be hitched to truth, religion damages hope is by putting question marks where God has exclamation marks. “Are you saved and secure? Are you completely forgiven and unconditionally loved? What if you sin? What if you fall away?”

Like an insurance company religion trades on uncertainty and fear. “Do you know if God will accept you? Are you sure?” The greater your fear, the better the business. These questions distract you from Christ who is the Truth. They cause you to unhitch your hope rope from him and attach it to your own religious performance. Instead of resting in Christ you’ll end up laboring in hopeless unbelief.

3. Religion damages hope by selling lies

Another way religion destroys hope is by getting you to hitch your hope-rope to outright lies: “You’re not saved, forgiven, and secure, unless you confess, pray and read your Bible every day.” “It’s not about his faithfulness but yours.” “It’s not what he’s done but what you do.”

Buy into these lies and you’ll become a prime consumer of religious products. “Bless me, Lord, for I fast twice a week and tithe all I earn.” But when God fails to bless you on account of your religious labors, the result is hopelessness and discouragement.

Jon Stewart on Religion

4. Religion damages hope by being strict

God has given you unique abilities and giftings, but you will never pursue your dreams in a culture that punishes failure. Condemnation is a hope-killer. By punishing those who make bad choices, religion discourages you from making any choices.

Religion kills hope by defining success narrowly. “Be a minister. Be a missionary.” If you don’t fit the mold, you won’t be released into your gifting. Instead of being encouraged to become the rock-star slam-poet you’ve always wanted to be, you’ll be discouraged, or worse, shown the door.

5. Religion damages hope by pretending

The typical religious leader is a walking, talking success story with perfect teeth and perfect hair. Contrast this with the apostle Paul who was open about his weaknesses and occasionally struggled with “great fear and trembling” (1 Cor 2:3).

Leaders who hide their failures deny opportunities for others to see them trusting God when they are afraid, out of ideas, and out of money. A religious hero who never has a bad day is a myth who will discourage you. But a broken man who relies on God and changes the world will inspire you.

6. Religion damages hope by painting bleak pictures of future

The New Testament writers were unquestionably hopeful. They wrote of the gospel bearing fruit all over the world and they had a confident expectation of success. Yet religion paints fearful pictures of the future shaped by terrorists, blood moons, and raptures where you’ll probably be left behind. Read the Bible and you’ll be filled with hope, but listen to religious doomsayers and you’ll be filled with fear.

7. Religion damages hope by defining the church as something other than a family

In this world we are alone, but “God sets the solitary in families” (Psa 68:6). You need the love of a family and God provides this by adopting you into his. The church is his family and Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters (Heb 2:11). When religion portrays the church as an army, a business, a club, or anything that is not a family, it deprives you of the secure and unconditional love that leads to a strong hope.

What happens when hope is damaged?

Love leads to hope which leads to faith. When hope is damaged – when the false god of religion fails to deliver on the false promises that religion makes – you will wander from the faith.You will wander because you’ve hitched your hope rope to an untrustworthy god who says he loves you but he’s also angry with you. He thinks you’re great, yet he scourges you with whips. It’s confusing, it’s muddled, and it’s wrong.

How do you find your way back? How do you cultivate a strong and resilient hope? I will answer these questions in the next post.


72 Comments on Seven ways religion damages hope

  1. Amen Paul!

    Proverbs 13:12
    Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

  2. Another good one Paul, when you have a revelation of this sort,you can almost smell the negatives and or control, fear etc , you hear someone say something,and the red flags go off

  3. Thanks Paul, very hopeful and encouraging words. Our “selves”, the world and Satan are out to depress us but our God gives us hope.

  4. Paul, this site may be the few that’s left of truth. Religion has taken so much hope out of me. I have finally grounded in this Grace thing. I still have moments from so much torment that “it’s too good to be true, I should of prayed for 5 more minutes instead of doing my hw assignment,there goes my hope that God still loves me”, though I know deep down none of that makes any sense. Things were so bad when I was bonded to religion. Saying “have a good day!” To people at work left me in fear that I’d be punished because I didnt say “have a blessed day”. “Having a tv meant I was enabling commercials to lead me to sin, and subscribing to my tv provider was providing money to enable sin to others therefore leading them to hell”(It was when I read this that I finally threw my hands in the air of religion. extreme, but it was that RIDICULOUS.) almost every step you take in religion there is a consequence if it’s not right. What hope is there for heaven? Religion made me far from hope and I became terribly bitter and afraid of God, I kept planning when I would run away and quit all together and accept that I was going to Hell.(even trying to reason that maybe I could withstand the fire because there’s no way I can keep up with God.) I’m ashamed to say, but it was that bad Paul. Discovering his grace through scripture, with all this hope in me, i can’t help but love to be in Gods love. this was none of my own hope I had to work up on my own! His love gives us hope. Not religion. Sorry for the rant, but it somehow relates. There is little basis of real hope in religion. Great post.

    • Jay, this is what the law does to people. Only those who really tried to keep it come to realize what you have explained here. Most of the church mixes in just enough grace to allow them to continue in the madness. A full dose of law makes it very clear there is only one way – Jesus. The perfect person we are trying to become by our own efforts is already complete in Him. The Father’s love for you is unconditional and greater than anything else in your life, it is only a matter of accepting it.

    • Thank you, Jay, for sharing your story. That wasn’t a rant at all. I suspect there are many who will read your words and think, “Yes, that’s me exactly.” Religion is a killer, but thank God for Jesus who gives us life!

    • Paul Appleby // March 31, 2016 at 12:06 pm // Reply

      That was a great rant. How subtley we think that God is watching us carefully to slip up when, in fact, He is gazing upon us with nothing but love in His eyes. We are utterly free to be just who we are!

      • Christine // April 1, 2016 at 1:12 am //

        Yes sir, I agree! We are free to be who He made us to be! He wants us to have the desire of our hearts because He placed those desires there when He made us!

    • Jay, even after seventeen years of detoxification, I still find myself slipping back into old habits. Not to discourage you, because those moments are few and far between. But I find Religion is like chemotherapy – the damage lasts a long time. But the freedom is so incredible out here, isn’t it?

      • donbeeson // August 22, 2016 at 9:03 am //

        Hey, Tony and Jay. Great metaphor , Tony : ) always enjoy reading your comments. I do the same , Tony and Jay. I had decades of being taught a mixture of Old and New Covenant in many different types of churches–from charismatic to Calvinist. Paul’s site and books are where I come to get my booster vaccinations from all of what I really wonder isn’t heresy , plain and simple , disguised as doing God’s will.
        I’m so thankful for God’s leading me to this place and to Paul. Paul has said himself , he is still learning as am I. But the freedom and truth I’ve found here is breathtaking and so satisfying.

  5. Richele pantele // March 31, 2016 at 3:25 am // Reply

    Thank you for this reminder that we are His. There is freedom in that truth. God bless you for your work. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Your post describes my life and hopelessness exactly, I’m a backslider from a strict religion that taught performance for acceptance by God.

    • Betty – Which of the plethora of religions don’t teach performance/rewards = acceptance by God? Perhaps you will find further comfort, when realizing organized religions of any stripe, are simply a reflection a business model, based in a world not known by God.

  7. Made me think of Tullian Tchividjian. I sent him a link to this

  8. It’s confusing, it’s muddled and it’s wrong. This is what I’ve been brooding over for some time now. It’s as if, the Jesus I read in †ђξ scriptures, is quite different from †ђξ one I hear people preach on †ђξ street. At one point they will say God is “rich” in “mercy”. Few seconds later, they will start harping on an angry God. It can bξ confusing and funny

  9. I love E2R, Paul. Thank you for the heartfelt messages. This one really hit home for me. I’m an artist. Have been all my life. But there has rarely been a place for artists in most contemporary churches here in the States. “Well, we could use a few posters for the conference next month, or a sermon series we’re doing next spring. beyond that, there is no place for artists in the church!” And it’s true! There is no place.
    Of course, then you think, wow, did God make a mistake by making me an artist? Did God actually make me an artist, or is it a self-deceptive fantasy. I’m still working through this.
    But, I WILL work through it!

    • Wow, Ed, there is much to say about this. That an artist could feel out of place in a world created by an Artist speaks volumes to the way religion ruins dreams and frustrates our God-given gifts. Play to your strengths, not their expectations, and be blessed!

      • Great comment! I like the beginning, the end is something we all should remember (maybe a bumper sticker or a forehead tattoo), and the middle is really good too. 🙂 Blessings

  10. P. Ellis – thank-you for the thoughtful post here.

    A general note to the followers of this blog__

    Religion – yes it pretends it is something when it is not. If giving too much in a persons life, religion will not lead them to the truth which sets them free nor to the God who made them.

    In the paragraph speaking to pretentiousness – was Paul speaking to those hearing him regards, their not being perfect as to their human condition; hoping in some way to soothe them with his words there in 1 Cor 2?

    Or could he have been speaking to something wholly different? Pointing out the immensity of a message down-loaded to him as he spent years in a desert with HS before coming to Jerusalem; where he spoke briefly with two Apostles – then going away again before returning more than 10 years later, to begin his preaching of the Good News?

    Was it not this he spoke to when saying, I am not but a messenger of God in those first few verses of 1 Cor 2?

    In v3; for him to chose the words “…fear & much trembling…” in context – surely this was to point out his “respect” for God, not a case of his fright or personal weaknesses pre-existing. But it was his awe for God. v4 shows he meant only to pass (preach as in v1) the message. And in it the people would only hear + listen to HS, gaining revelation. Seeing only the demonstration of HS; he did not speak to his human condition at all. It was about their hearing, their faith. Their faith then, would not come from (religion; ‘oral rules’ making traditions of greater value) the wisdom of a man, but the power of God; v5.

    He goes on in v6 to say, we speak the the ears of those who hear in the spirit; otherwise what he preaches is foolishness – because it is heard by those who are without the spirit. Ergo, the overarching context of 1 Cor 2.

    • When Paul said he went to Corinth in fear and trembling he meant he was genuinely fearful. In fact, he was so afraid that God had to step in and say “do not be afraid” (Acts 18:9). When Paul later exhorted the Corinthians to work out their salvation in the context of fear and trembling, he was saying there will be times when you have to take a faith risk and it’ll be scary. More here.

    • Mr Meek,

      “A general note to the followers of this blog__”

      please address you comments to a specific poster or to Paul.

      If I wanted your preaching; I would follow your blog. We are not your captive audience. Here you are just a fellow poster with an opinion. You may express your opinion (as Paul allows) but it is very arrogant to assume that I, for one, covet your counsel. (I could be wrong, but I’m betting you might be a pastor) (no offense to the other pastors on this blog 🙂 )


      • Dear Jimmi,

        Your suggestion is noted, I will address specific posters or Mr. Ellis – sincerely__

        Your opinion on my opinion is much appreciated. As a fellow of the faith in the Christ, I was not preaching nor was I giving counsel.

        As to the term, “pastor”__call no one this name nor any others of leadership/headship gifts – Jesus commands that + more. Our obedience to His voice whilst learning to trust Him, is our first responsibility to Him.

        Otherwise, I was attempting to share/hopefully (organically) & converse in the course of discourse.

        I would not accept such either, not because it may be an honour. But I will not honour men this way – but together, let’s honour HS as He reveals to us all truth. Am I loved/ known by the true One Only God – may it never be I refuse the faith once gifted me.

      • Very well stated.

        I misrepresented your statement and really appreciated your response.

        Thank you,

      • Stephen,

        You humble me even more 🙂

        Sincerely appreciate your encouraging words to Betty.

        I was way off. I’m too jumpy because something similar happened to me recently. But with different intent than yours.

        At a bible study, one of the attendees (a friend) was telling the group how Peter was slamming (he likes these “go get ’em” scenarios ) – a group of listeners. I spoke up and mentioned that possibly Peter was not slamming them. Possibly Peter remembered he was like them until he received the Holy Spirit. And possibly he was lovingly wanting them to see the truth that he just received. (Admittedly, I had never reflected as much on this event until this discussion), but this was the thought that came to me).

        The pastor, instead of looking at me and asking me to clarify; looked at the rest of the group (his opinion is that I focus too much on the grace part and not the judgement). He looked at the group, and told them that we don’t have to change the message to fit our agenda. See, it’s a very effective tactic. Puts the speaker on defensive mode. I might add that among this group was a new believer who really liked the pastor.

        That’s how I pictured your post. But I was dead wrong !!



      • I hope you find a new pastor.

      • LJP,
        He was not *my* pastor. Rather, he was the pastor of a group, in a location, where I was visiting for a while. (Plus it didn’t change my view at all 🙂 ).


      • Thanks, that’s good news. Much of what the church considers to be spirituality today is narcissism. Blessings to you too.

    • Meek, there’s different kinds of fear and trembling. The demons fear and tremble is the worst kind. The woman with the issue of blood feared and trembling, is a good kind. We fear the Lord ( reverence, respect for him, or dread towards him) and we can thank religion for the latter part. We will fear if we don’t enter his rest and ive been down that road, trust me, its hell. As long as we allow the interpreter, the Holy Spirit to differentiate between the two types of fear and trembling, then we should be fine. Good day, God bless.

  11. Great series, looking forward to the next one. Thanks

  12. Adriaan Hattingh // March 31, 2016 at 10:10 am // Reply

    The success of religion is in fostering an inability to please God as a Father. Thereby keeping you dependant on the system.
    Their greatest tool is to make you believe that you are still a sinner, although saved by grace, and have to strive to become good or to be pleasing to God.
    Their leaders have it all together but you never will. Re. Matt 23:1-36

  13. Jay and Ed my heart goes out to you both as you describe something of your own personal struggles with how religion has crushed hope in you. I know your stories are very different but the thief is the same and I feel genuinely sad over your losses. What cheers me is that you are finding hope again through the good news of Grace that sets us fee from stifling religious conformity and restrictions (and thank you God for amazing Grace communicators like Paul Ellis!)
    Fly free in the wide skies of Grace, Ed and Jay, Hope really does have wings!
    Blessings to all the E2R family
    Gilly (UK)

  14. Thanks you all. Just touching base from my last comment. A lot of hope has been found. The word religion makes me cringe more and more. I hope as people read this who have similar stories, they realize they are not alone. This is a great site. A lot of healing came from this site and when I begged God to tell me what I was doing wrong, I came to this site first, and I honestly believe I was led here. I would curse God for telling me that he so loved the world, but I had to work to keep the love, and work to stay out of hell. What kind of love is that? Never ever was I told about grace. My whole 22 years I was never told about actual GRACE, I got the occasional “God is good” and “Jesus died for you”, but shoved in me was that it would never be easy to believe, I had to live the life to match. Daily I had to google what was a sin and what wasn’t a sin and keep it in memory. “Salvation is free, but it’ll cost you everything.” “You can’t just have Jesus and not the Jesus life.” STAY far away from anyone who tells you that. Desperate to not be eternally damned, I listened to that and didn’t even use my brain to realize that saying doesn’t make any sense! Religion tries so hard to make it seem like they are telling you the truth! You will end up constantly unsure of your salvation, and worse, unsure of Gods love! Back then I hated telling people about God, and forgive me as I try to word this. I had to tell people about a God that I was so angry at, because I thought I was being punished for every single thing. And it’s funny, the more you try to keep laws/rules the more you realize you can’t. I turned right back to sin and feel like because I turned back deep into sin(and it was always worse each time), that was Gods punishment. Oh, how that is so wrong. It’s almost* unbelievable (even though I whole heartedly believe the gospel), that I could fall in love with God so much and not have to WORK for it now. I’m watching the things that used to have dominion over my life fade away, and it’s none of my efforts. I’ll never be able, when I die, to tell God “Hey Father, did you see, I forsook all my sins! Did you see how well I turned from being deep in lust?!” It is all God’s work! This is why when religion tells you to turn from your sin, the glory shifts from God to human. Who recieves the credit then? Now, after actually beliving the good news I’m hearing for the first time, It’s like I was a broken guitar and the holy spirit is restringing my internal guitar strings. I am watching my desires change. I cry and am abundant with joy when I think of Gods love and grace. All this time he wanted to fix me, and I was trying to “endure” and fix myself. I pray all come to hear of the grace and find rest from the labours to try to be “right with God”.

    • Praise God for what He is doing in your life and setting you free! Thank you for sharing your story. You have expressed it so well, I think many will relate, including myself. Blessings

    • Awesome, Jay! : )

    • I know this is a while past, but reading your post here Brother Jay just fired my desire to respond. Something you said there I have had in my heart awhile but i couldn’t word it as well as you did when you said that when we’re demanded (from man, not God) to turn from our sins who gets the glory? So true. The old hymn ‘I Will Arise” talks about all the fitness He requires is to feel our need of Him is so true. OK, I’ve vented long enough, thank you Paul and Jay for allowing me! God Bless you all!

  15. Ruth Coulthard // March 31, 2016 at 8:13 pm // Reply

    Thank you for the blogs. I’d love to receive the Grace pack but nothing has come through on email. Can you help please? Thank you

  16. Thanks! Blessings to you all. May God and his grace be abundant in your life!

    • Hey, Jay. Your past experience is so much like mine. When I first heard the gospel and believed, it was so wonderful. But in less than a month , I was on the performance treadmill. I was told that since I now have the Holy Spirit I could now obey God and his commands. When that failed to happen, I began to really question my salvation about 5 years after believing the gospel. Yet, I would continue to see miracles in my life , things that could not be explained other than as supernatural. I would share the gospel with people , but inside I wondered if that salvation was mine. Then, I got to the point where I wouldn’t share it because I didn’t want others to be as miserable as I had become as a believer. I actually told God “Why don’t you take me to Hell now. I can’t take it anymore”. Yet, i couldn’t go back to Egypt. I knew too much. I knew the gospel was true. But there were those around he who said it was possible that I was never saved or if I was, that I had lost my salvation.
      All of that began to change in The summer of 2008. Certain scriptures I had read hundreds of times came to life and with new meaning and understanding and not influenced by any author or preacher. Then the icing on the cake came when , like you, I believe God supernaturally directed me to Paul’s site here : ) it didn’t take my reading but a few blog posts and articles to feel as though I had been born again again.
      Jay, thanks for sharing! This is my current “church” family . Welcome, bro! : )

      • Wow don, your words have resonated with me. I currently feel what you felt when you said 5 years after you were questioning your salvation. I was directed to paul’s site about a couple of weeks ago. and when I had first posted my comment I did feel, finally, free. but I am now in that place of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. And exactly what you said, i find myself not wanting to share the gospel anymore because I dont want anyone to be miserable like I currently am, or worst-case, they end up not miserable and it is just a huge flag that I actually was never saved, and I am definitely going to hell. I find myself constantly calling on the Lord to save me “again, and again” because in my heart I know that he said if I call on him, he will in no wise cast me out, but in my mind I still wonder if I am really saved. Like you, I am sure there will people on the internet or around me who may even say I might not be saved or I lost it. I am hoping for the revelation you recieved where more scriptures will come to life for me.

        I so much appreciate your comment, I am currently in “those shoes” May God bless you so much in your life!
        This site is also starting to become my new church family, by the way.

      • donbeeson // April 5, 2016 at 7:27 am //

        Hey, Jay. It’s not easy when we have trusted those who were part of our new birth experience and to later find that they have willingly it unwillingly led us astray as to how to LIVE the Christian life. To be honest, I still feel traumatized at times , because these same people keep spreading the lies and blindly choose not to question their beliefs. I am so tired of all the spin. And frankly I hate the hypocrisy I’ve seen for so long. Why is it Christians can’t be honest about their struggles?? Why do they hide the sin that still exerts influence over them. At times, I wonder how I as a Christian can still do the things I find myself doing. But we need to come clean about who we are. The apostle Paul says it is no longer he who does the evil but sin in his members. To be honest , it sure seems like it’s me doing it , but then I see the changes that the Holy Spirit HAS made in my life. The apostle Paul said that he practices the very evil that he does not want–the members of his body are waging war against the law of his mind. In my life, that is still very evident. God could have chosen to eradicate sin the moment we believed the gospel. He didn’t–although there are some professing Christians who say they no longer sin even though I believe 1John makes it clear that isn’t the case : )
        Even while the apostle Paul was still alive , he mentioned how Christians were arguing among themselves about their beliefs. Some were saying they were of Paul, some Apollos, still others claimed they were right invoking another disciple or teacher. We have had nearly 2000 more years added since that time, and the division among Christians is staggering . To be honest , I wish Christ would come back right now , so we could be done with all the chaos and misinformation. But scripture says He is delaying because it is not His desire that any should perish but all should come to a saving knowledge of Him.
        Keep reading Paul Ellis’s articles and resources and learn from those here who have tasted grace and refuse to go back to mixing the New and Old Covenant. I continue to find needed nourishment here and suffer the effects of religious malpractice. It’s somewhat similar to veterans who experience PTSD.

      • Hey Don, these are great comments. Never have I ever been comfortable to finally be honest, and I feel this is a great site to do it. There are days I still feel traumatized as well, you are not alone. It’s funny you say that, because at times I also think “how much easier would it of been if God completely eradicated sin the moment we believe on him for eternal life” then we would definitely not have to worry about feelings whether we are saved and going to heaven or not, because we’d have no sin. Unfortunately, not the case, and like you I feel like a lot of Christians are not honest. It is rare to find someone who is open that “Hey, I believe in Jesus as well, but there are times I doubt, am confused, or struggle.” I’m tired of people making it seem like they have it all figured out and are in white robes already.

        There are many days like yourself, I wish Jesus would just come back. I’m tired of the confusion, of the mumbo-jumbo, the insecurity, the fear that Internet preachers or even in-person preachers/ministers/people in general instill in people. As far as denominations and “religion” goes, “Christianity” has got to have the most confusion and deceit. Think about it, ask 20 people who “follow Christ” what the gospel is and you’ll receive in all probability more than 10 different gospels. God being all knowing, I can’t think why he wouldn’t understand why people are so confused. Being at my age, I really want to experience being married and have a family. so I can live with Jesus delaying. Lol, but as far as the chaos goes, Ive pretty much had it. I’m tired of the guns being pointed at each other, of who’s right and who’s wrong. Scriptures are interpreted 400 different ways, it makes me honestly want to give up some days. If I’m wrong, just tell me now Lord. Every preacher thinks they are right, and most if not all of them pray before hand that the Holy Spirit will give them knowledge of scripture. If that’s the case and all of them have the holt spirit in them giving knowledge while preaching, why is each interpretation different, and a lot of them being EXTREMELY different.

        And I feel the exact same way about wondering how I can be a Christian and still think or do some things. Though they are not nearly as bad as they were before, they are still there. One example, though I have many, is that I used to curse like a drunk sailor, and it just day by day stopped. I can barely even think a curse word without having hesitation. I want to say that is proof of the Holy Spirit working in my life, my mouth was kind of the first to change in my honest opinion. If ido blurt out a curse word, I feel the guilt. And of course, I look back and think, “you know, maybe I’m not saved.” My feelings want to tell me that it’s God reminding me that I’m I can’t be saved and talk like that, therefore no kingdom for me. But the truth is there is an accuser in this world, and he comes after you for only 3 things: to kill, steal, and destroy. If there is anything I’ve learned, do not go by feelings, the devil has no compassion. He is ready to accuse you once you slip. And many times, I mistake that it’s God doing it.

      • Hi J, please note that I don’t normally publish comments >250 words. I’ve made a few exceptions lately, but I’d appreciate it if you could respect the community and keep things short. (You’re welcome to talk longer on the FB page.) Thanks.

      • donbeeson // April 8, 2016 at 4:56 am //

        Hey, J! Are you “Jay” also? : ) J, it’s taken me decades to recover from what I call religious malpractice. The gospel IS very simple: Jesus died for our sins , he was buried, and He was raised from the dead. Once you believe and understand that , I’m convinced you are never the same. The problem and anguish result when pastors, authors, and other believers begin adding onto that and creating theologies around certain verses to justify themselves. The flesh can be “good” or “bad”, but both are repugnant to God. The moment you believe, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit ( Ephesians 1:13)and you also are given the righteousness of Christ as Romans 10:10 says. We can’t through our performance improve upon that. That is the truly Good News, but how many really hear that. That doesn’t sell a lot of books or line the pockets of clergymen and authors. As long as these false teachers can dupe people into thinking their performance matters to God, they have them right where they want them. The answers we need and seek are in the Bible, but because of all the garbage we are taught and fed , we can miss it. The apostle Paul did not hesitate to call out those who preached a gospel contrary to his and called them accursed. I think it’s time we do the same in our generation.

      • sorry, I keep forgetting!

      • Don, praise the truth brother! Why must people make something simple so hard? because telling people a simple gospel might lead them out the church pews and let the holy spirit work in their lives…because telling a simple scriptual gospel might lead to no book sales..which means no $$.. once i figured it out it the lightbulb went off. So many books on one simple truth..So many religons on one simple truth…and it sucks because many will miss it if we dont let them know..I understand more and more why the apostle fought so hard to preach the gospel. I actually become stressed just thinking about it..i remember and still have “ptsd” of the effects of the religious malpractice. certain words actually trigger these horrible thoughts of feeling beaten down and i get scared again.

      • donbeeson // April 11, 2016 at 3:22 pm //

        Hey, Jay. I do think , as you do , that God is directing people to Paul’s site. So many of us do have PTSD from religious malpractice . And it doesn’t go away quickly. But I think it does make us appreciate the gospel more as you said and motivate us to share the real gospel and not some counterfeit by which so many of us have been fed and nurtured. For me, that was decades. Not until 2009, did the blinders begin to fall. And only on October 24, 2015 did I feel born again again. So thankful, so thankful to God and to individuals like you who echo my past experience and are also becoming free as we relearn how to live out the Gospel.
        Stay firm , Jay. You do know the truth now. Very cool to see how you have matured even in the time I’ve read your posts : )

    • Hi Jay. I’ve been frightened by a friend into doing works. She joined some cult that believes that you must follow the Law of Moses in order to be saved in addition to faith (they have strict clothing rules which is what she’s trying to force on me, dietary rules, etc). They spend more time preaching the Old Testament than anything else and only seem to dabble here and there in the New Testament. I told her that group is preaching lies because the New Testament constantly reminds us that no one will be made right with God by trying to obey the law. It’s like I know this, but she has scared me into feeling I have to do certain things to be saved. I went through a period of depression and uncertainty for about a month because I wasn’t sure about my salvation. The thoughts in my mind were tormenting. The gospel seems so easy but people seem to complicate it and turn it into human effort.

      • Do not be frightened monique. Works cannot and will not save you. God did everything, he only asked for one thing, to believe in the one he has sent.

        I absolutely know where you are coming from I went through months and weeks with uncertainty, and i came to the point where i wished I was a baby again, or i wished i had just not been drawed to God, and I actually sympathized with being athiest or agnostic. It was just too much.
        because if this is what he expected of me, works, perfection, I wanted no part in it, because I knew it would be continual defeat for me, and that is the honest truth.
        Me and previous posters have been there, read our comments, we know just how you feel. the stress is not worth it.

        straight from scripture:

        John 6:29: Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (NLT)

        6:40, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (KJV)

      • Thank you Jay 🙂 It’s been on my mind so much. This happened in January and I’m still thinking about it. It’s maddening. Sometimes I wonder if God is telling me to do something or if it’s just my friend getting in my ear, especially because I had no anxiety prior to all of this. When I first started my walk with the Lord last year, I was excited. Now I’ve been feeling down and not in the mood to pray or read my bible. This leads me to think this is not from God but anxiety and fear brought on by this friend. However through this site, I’m seeing how common it is for people to force their beliefs on others and causing them to stumble in their walk with the Lord.

      • donbeeson // April 23, 2016 at 3:53 pm //

        Hey, Monique. Jimmi is right. Sheer numbers don’t make a belief correct. When you think about it, when we are born, each of us is a blank slate. But from early on people begin writing in that slate. We become products of other people’s thinking for the most part unless and until God intervenes… which He does. As I read so many posts here, I see that these men and women are my true church family. God has rescued each of us out of this grace/works mixture. Without the internet –God’s intention for this time in history –we would be isolated not realizing that others were experiencing the same works of God in their lives , bringing them into the true freedom of Christ. As Jimmi said , I would rather me the adulterous woman soaked in God’s love than one of the men ready to throw their stones.
        Monique , I would advise you continue reading Paul’s posts and the people’s comments. Decades ago, I was finding it hard to read my Bible like I had for the first few years I was a believer. The woman who cut my hair at the time said to read it even if you don’t feel like it. I did that and it wasn’t long before enjoying my Bible reading returned. As you read it through the focus of the New Covenant as Paul E. has said , things will leap out to you in ways that cause you to marvel at how the same scriptures you have read 100s of times take on new meaning and reveal a love you didn’t see before.

      • Monique,

        That’s what works based disciples do. It’s their weapon of choice.
        Fear, intimidation, failure, anguish, despair etc.

        Meet someone of works mixture. You will find these. They are teaching what they live. If you want that, I can’t stop you.

        Meet someone who believes the grave message. Though they still fail. Note the joy, love, hope, kindness, Christ focused, welcoming messages. That’s because they teach what they live as well.

        Monique, like many on this blog, I came from works/grace mix. I decided to reboot and find the truth on my own. When I found the truth of (hyper) grace, it was very disarming. I loved it but it was different from what I had been taught. I enjoyed the joy and hope of the graced based people I met.

        I remember meditating on what I was learning, and much prayer that I was searching for truth and not just preference. During one if those times. I remember saying “what if trusting totally in grace (Jesus’ gift) is wrong”. And the thought that came to me said, “well, who says they (grace/works promoters) are right?”.

        I was like “wow, who DOES say they are right? I mean, if it’s based on numbers, I would have to be a non believer. There are more non-believers than devoted Christians. Muslim? There are a lot of Muslims. REALLY. Who says they (works/grace) were right???!!!! I went back to my bible, listened to all sides of the issue. And grace chose me.

        Monique, make your choice, if you want to live where fear of failure is the motivator . And your bible says that to you. Then do so. But I choose where love is the motivator, I would much preferred to have been the adulterer being soaked in Jesus’ love, than to have been one of the judges with a stone in my hand.

        I much prefer to change because I saw the love of Christ, not because I am constantly worried of being stoned. I choose this, even if I have to go it alone (even family who reflect my beliefs) . No regrets, just sorrow for them.
        Hope this helps,

      • Thank you all very much 🙂 My prayer everyday is that God keeps reminding me of his grace and reminding me that I can’t earn his love by doing anything. It seems simple enough, but I really have to grasp the grace message day by day.

  17. I am asking this because I run a rape support group and pastors do unbelievable damage by saying first before anything before even God loves you that you need to forgive if you are going to be “free.” First that is not true. Most rape survivors even those who are Christians blame themselves and need to forgive themselves first. Second they need to know that God loves them before they get some pressured demand to forgive. They also need to know you will pray with them and don’t agree with the rapists that its an okay thing to do. The church in the US doesn’t seem to be a safe place for victims of any crime especially rape.

    Grace pastors seem to be making the same huge mistakes as religious or mixture pastors which is to put all the pressure on the victim and allow the rapist to have your grace and God’s grace and make the victim feel her emotional and spiritual healing depends on HER forgiveness of her abuser. That is NOT the case at all. First of all she needs grace also but that is almost never communicated to her by pastors. Can it be that they don’t value women and just project their own issues or is it something deeper with their relationship with God.

    Finally they put all of the pressure on the victim to forgive and say unless you forgive God CANT heal you. First of all it is a wrong basis to even think that much less suggest it.
    I know in religion it i so popular to victim bash and blame but it is not of God. Also if one of your congregation got hit by a car and broke their leg. You would NOT suggest that God COULD not heal them unless they forgave. You would tell them to go to the hospital. But maybe pastors here think so highly of themselves that they think it is okay to speak for God in that way because the ones I know refuse to get any kind of training for this and I know they need it because many are destroying lives. Their sermons are excellent and their revelation of grace immense unless you talk to them about a rape victim that they think the victim has to forgive or else they can not receive the grace of God. It is actually the other way around. Only after they receive the grace of God (not just for salvation but for living ) then and only then can they or should they forgive. Its really just the same as telling someone to repentant before thy meet Jesus.

    • Suggesting that someone must manufacture forgiveness while they are experiencing such deep pain is not grace. Anything that says you have to do to become is law. When a person goes through something that tragic and heals enough that they genuinely want to forgive it is clearly a miracle of the Father’s life working in them.

      • I completely agree, sigh..this world will have you forcing yourself to change and conform before Gods work, and not after his work.

      • Amen, Jay, we’re not conforming to a list of dos and don’ts, we’re being transformed by His love. Some great comments by all – where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

  18. Hope is no more than truth, if you have truth there is no need for hope, but for those searching may the truth set you free.

    • The definition of hope = The confident expectation of good. That is the truth of the gospel of Grace–the whole complete gospel of Jesus Christ. Grace and truth > law.

    • momzilla76 // April 6, 2016 at 3:10 am // Reply

      Truth is cold facts sitting on a desk. Hope is alive, encompassing far more than intellectual reason.

  19. Religion__Be careful not to get any of it on you.

    A good example of misnomer in the church – we say Grace Grace, yet without faith, the object of Grace is rubbish. Grace comes only through a gift of faith. Faith, if not appropriated (received by the individual) – the purpose of Grace will be distorted at least. Grace by itself is only unmerited favour waiting to be utilized.

    The people’s struggle – Jesus pointed out to leaders of his day. You don’t come to me & by your man-made up “oral rules” (traditions you hold higher than me), you keep the people from me – hypocrites, snakes… those same (leaders, not servants serving) are freely elected by the people in church groups all over the world.

    Until the church (the bride of Christ); the individual is convinced they are not to look to those who have qualities of pastor/leader over them – they will struggle with belonging to any group fashioned after (the world) a top down business pyramid structure.

    It’s not leadership that leads in the Kingdom of God; it’s those who serve that lead. The latter will never look for title; the people (born-again) will not search for the former.

  20. Steve Keely // April 7, 2016 at 8:31 pm // Reply

    So true

  21. Thank for eye opening teaching, it is really sad that God’s people have no idea about the reality of life in Yeshua, Jesus,whom they profess and are so bound by religious rules and activities and are lorded over by human beings instead of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    They have become so used to the religious limition teachings so much that they, most of them can no more open up to the reality.

  22. Thank you for such inspiring words. In my country we are taught that we must be perfect as Christ is perfect! Every morning that I woke up with thought ” Today God You will see how good I am, I will control every minute to please You” i spent the rest of the day confessing of lots of sins which led me to frustration and depression. I even started to think what is the point to live? Long live means more sins, God hates sins, no life no sin! I was afraid of almost everything, to watch movies, to communicate with people, to get married (cause sins can be made anywhere). And as you said (so true) I started to believe that those who don’t believe in God are so lucky, cause what the point to believe if you fall every day, and God’s wrath is on you.
    Thank you for your sermon, it really helps ! I hope that God will bless you and your family!

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Anna. Grace and peace to you.

      • Wow, Anna, many people relate to your words! especially me, prior to begging God for truth and coming to this site, i started to ask God why did he create me, or it would of been easier to just not believe at all and become athiest. but Like Don said in comments above, its too late to go back to egypt.(meaning its too late to try to pretend none of this exists) The gospel is the truth and your ONLY part is only to believe that it is the truth. Paul has many articles telling you the true gospel! and its in scripture, none of it is being made up! like LJP mentioned earlier, alot of churches or people will pump you with just enough grace to continue in the madness of trying to be perfect and continuing under law, which is why you constantly felt depressed.

        May you believe the truth, and allow it to set you free!
        Paul I used a word counter and im below 250 words LOL, Am i E2R reader of the week?

      • Roshan Easo // April 11, 2016 at 4:40 pm //

        Jay. Find a misused or misplaced word. That’s I got it a few years back. Cheers on your story, blessings on us as we continue in the grace of God (I don’t mean, fearfully but wonderfully. God is for us – always. Always. )

  23. I like this article, I had one question though. In point 1, you say that we shouldn’t think that God will ever punish or scourge His children, but the Bible does talk about God chastening/scourging us- Hebrews 12:6

  24. Excellent and concise 🙂
    The limitations of religion

  25. Fantastic. Love your work. Discovered you through a FB group “Religion free movement”.

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