How Religion Makes Us Stupid (And Jesus Makes Us Wise)

car-crash

Religion is an endless car race and I have a trackside seat. I smell the fumes of religious ambition, and I hear the sickening crunch of condemnation. The religious race goes on and on, and I get to watch people slamming into the hard wall of rules and unforgiveness.

I don’t particularly want to watch this, but Jesus said to help the hurting, and many of them are lying broken on the religious racetrack.

Religion hurts people. The old religion of rules and regulations ministers condemnation and death. Hopefully you know this. But did you also know that religion can make you stupid?

But their minds were made dull… Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. (2 Cor 3:14-15)

The word for dull in this passage means a kind of stone. Live by the ministry carved on tablets of rock, and you’ll end up with rocks in your head. (You have to love the language of the Bible!)

Rule-based religion will give you a dull mind and a veiled heart. I see proof of this every day in my message box. Consider this question I was recently asked:

Paul, I have been told that divorce is a sin. I understand that it was not God’s will for me to leave my first wife. Should I leave my current wife and our three kids and try and reconcile?

So let me get this straight. You think divorce is a sin and the solution is to do it again?

It’s a dumb question, but I would never mock the person who asked it. In fact, I rejoice that they brought their question to me and not to some rock-headed law-preacher. (In case you’re wondering, I told the person to stay married.)

We all make mistakes and I’m all for taking responsibility and cleaning up our messes. But, and I say this with love, you’re as dumb as Adam if you think you are the remedy to your sin. The bad news is your sin is too great for you to handle. The good news is that Jesus is greater than your sin!

Here’s another example of religious stupidity: “God raised up ISIS to accomplish his purposes.” A certain church has been teaching this and I’m glad most of you aren’t buying it. But some people are, and that’s sad.

God is good, ISIS is bad. They have nothing in common. And don’t fall for that religious chestnut that says God “allows” ISIS in his sovereignty. Religion says God is in control and therefore he bears some responsibility for everything that happens, but that’s not what the Bible says. God is good and everything he does and everything he gives is good. I know that’s a tricky piece of theology but it’s worth remembering.

Religion makes us look stupid to outsiders. When unbelievers hear us debating these things they shake their heads in disbelief. Then when they visit our churches we say “Thanks for coming, but don’t you dare touch our crackers and grape juice.” More stupidity.

How to respond to religious stupidity

There are two ways to respond to religious stupidity. First, we should call it out, as I’m doing here and as Paul did in his letter to the Galatians:

You stupid Galatians! … How can you be so stupid? Do you think that by yourself you can complete what God’s Spirit started in you? (Gal 3:1,3, CEV)

Sheesh, Paul, tell us what you really think.

“Let your conversation be full of grace,” said the one who called the Galatians stupid. We who walk in grace are sometimes nicer than Jesus, but it’s healthy to laugh at religious stupidity. Some have even suggested that laughter is a fitting response to ISIS.

The One who sits enthroned in heaven laughs at his enemies and religious stupidity is his enemy and your enemy. Many is the time I’ve laughed at something stupid I once believed in. Such laughter is liberating. (If you’re open to it, I encourage you to share your old religious beliefs below so we can all enjoy a good laugh.)

The second way to respond to religious stupidity is to preach Jesus and nothing but Jesus.

Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. (Gal 3:1)

Religion is stupid because it says it’s all about you and what you need to do. The cure for such stupidity is to hear about Christ and what he has done. Religion says you’ll be wise if you worship the rules, but the gospel declares that Jesus is our wisdom from God.

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … But we preach Christ crucified: (1 Cor 1:20-23)

How Jesus makes us wise

The world is not impressed by a stupid church, but a church that displays the manifold wisdom of God shines like a city on a hill.

We all need wisdom. Every day I hear from people asking for wisdom in their marriages, workplaces, and churches. “What should I do?” What you should do is ask God for wisdom. “But I haven’t been to church, I haven’t tithed, I haven’t been a good person.” So you think God only helps good people? You don’t believe in grace? Do you have rocks in your head? Renew your dull and unbelieving mind.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (Jas 1:5)

Religion will give you a lecture, but God will give you wisdom. Religion will make you pay, but God gives freely.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Eph 1:17)

Wisdom and knowing Jesus go together. Whatever your situation, make it your ambition to know the Lord. “Jesus, what do you think about this?”

The Lord longs to be gracious to you… Blessed are all who wait for him! … Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isa 30:18,21)

Know Jesus, know wisdom. When you know Jesus in your situation, you will know the way to go.

Grace, peace and wisdom be yours in abundance.

___________

If you enjoy Escape to Reality, sign up to our email list and we’ll notify you about new articles as soon they come out. No spam, we promise.

Help these messages of grace and truth go further by supporting us via our Patreon page.

62 Comments on How Religion Makes Us Stupid (And Jesus Makes Us Wise)

  1. Have you written more on the issue of “God is sovereign, therefore ISIS etc is His tool”? I’d be curious re: that discussion.

  2. Religious tradition has always been inconsistent in their teachings. God makes you sick for His glory but let’s go to the Hospital to remove the sickness. The very thing supposedly bringing God glory. God wants you poor and humble. Yet the local church teaching this or TV ministry proclaiming this end their message of God’s plan for your poverty by asking you to donate monetarily. Religion says trust God at all times yet they also proclaim you can’t really hope and trust that what the Word promises will actually manifest in your life. Well it might, if God “wills it” in His sovereignty. In other words God reserves the right to honor His promises on a individual basis. Yep, religion is stupid. Thanks be to God Jesus and real Christianity aren’t religion.

  3. I totally agree with you Paul. As Jesus said ” the people in this world are wiser than the people of light”. I have come across many Churches that preach the Law of the Old Testament and they are dying old crusty buildings which will be empty within another decade unless they change. The sad thing is that they believe that what they are preaching is truth !! but they are deceived “For the God of this world (the devil or the better word is satan as it sounds more effective) has blinded their eyes, lest they see the glorious light of the Gospel (the good news). They are preaching bondage whereas the Gospel sets you free. The teachers of the Law were always chellanging Jesus but Jesus always answered them with the higher Law which was the Love Law.This is the Love that Jesus brought from the heart of the Father for God is Love and everything that Jesus did and said reflected this Love.
    Thank you Paul for E2R Keep preaching the truth.

    Roy

  4. Hi Paul,
    This is another great piece. It is sad that the church continues to see God as being good to the good and bad to the bad. Religion is a disease. And am glad you are bringing this to light through your writing. Keep up the great work. Shalom.

  5. Good stuff here sir. I once believed I could loose my favor with God because I cricised the wrong teachings from my former pastor. I chose to go back to college and guess what? Heto me I couldn’t succeed ; I either had to drop my calling as a pastor or loose my family to pursue education! I chose to ignore…. and now am a happy family man, got my degree and the church is on OK. The religious crap we sometimes believe! I thought this would annoy God, really.

  6. Brandon Petrowski // January 19, 2017 at 2:34 am // Reply

    Great post Paul. Thanks for the reminders.

  7. Thanks Paul. I have had a bad attitude toward religion for some time now. Here’s one to laugh at…. While growing up I would forget that it was a Friday during lent season and eat a hot dog at a friends house. We were not allowed to eat meat during lent back then. Of course my friend wasn’t Catholic. On my way home I would remember and begin to fear that I was going to go to hell for that mistake. Thankfully, after talking wth my mom about it, she said it was just an accident and God would forgive me for it. Whew! I thank the Lord Jesus for saving me at age 38….while running as far and as fast from religion as I could get! May God bless you for telling the truth of the Gospel. 💜

  8. Laugh bites:
    I thought I could change myself.
    I thought saying long complicated praise words in prayer, including “a thousand praises” actually blessed the Lord.
    I thought the Lord doesn’t love me.

  9. Woow, amazing.

  10. I enjoyed the great illustrations in this post, thank you. A famous TV grace preacher says that grace follows wisdom. I think wisdom follows grace, especially since grace is the way we receive everything from our Heavenly Father. Either way, it is wise to believe in the grace of our Lord.

    • Good point LJP. Since the root is Jesus, and he is our wisdom from heaven, wisdom has to be the fruit that he bears in our lives.

      • Roshan J Easo // January 31, 2017 at 11:37 pm //

        How important is your healing and health to the Lord? So important that He Himself paid the heaviest and most terrible price for your wholeness! At the cross, Jesus was judged, burnt, smitten and crushed. He paid the full price for your healing, health, and wholeness so you could experience His abundant life. Today, there is no symptom in your body that is too insignificant for Him to care about, and no condition that is greater than what His finished work has accomplished. – from God’s Promises at Joseph Prince. org.

        This is an amazing word. How much more will we be saved by His life! We are co-seated in heart, with our dynamically loving Daddy where the Holy Spirit has poured out love. Children sleep in peace in the Father’s bed. They say they want success – well God offers direct access to effortless success, wholeness, and victorious living! Sometimes I wonder if this is a fairy tale for grown-ups and then I realize the Lord wasn’t joking when he went out of the Garden WITH Adam and Eve to love and protect and prosper and dynamically love them everywhere they went despite the curse.

        I get afraid that all this is made up and I should have chosen something better – but it was God who loved me!

  11. Paul, I love you man. You Rock (pun intended!)

  12. Here goes. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. Once I was so dumb that I thought this scripture gave me permission to correct the Bible.

    I don’t want to be wrong on this one: “But women will be saved through childbearing…” 1 Tim 2:15. I know what it doesn’t mean. But what does it mean?

    • Off the top of my head: Paul is not talking about earning salvation by having babies; he’s reversing the curse of Gen 3. When man fell, one of the consequences was pain in childbirth. I imagine having a child during the first century was a more traumatic time for women than it is today. They didn’t have doctors, hospitals, etc. They had a far greater chance of dying. On top of those fears they had the memory of the curse God pronounced in the Garden. It was a recipe for anxiety and stress. So in view of what Christ has done, Paul basically says, “Ladies, don’t be afraid. You’re going to be alright.”

      Alternatively, Paul is talking about Eve and the Savior that came from her offspring. If Eve had never had children, it would have been difficult for Jesus to come and salvation to appear.

      Or it could be something else…

    • richard elson // January 19, 2017 at 10:56 am // Reply

      In these verses we are reading answers to questions we haven’t seen. Timothy is in Ephesus where gnosticism was being practiced and it’s false teaching competing with the gospel. Paul answered, addressing one of the gnostic base blocks, that being that physical flesh is evil therefore women will find extra difficulty finding salvation because through them flesh is brought into the world. Paul’s answers “there is no condemnation in childbirth”.

      Another favourite of control based church is that women should have no “authority” in the church. Check out the meaning of “authority” used only here in Timothy.

      For your interest, Other gnostic ideas include,
      – Eve being worshipped as perfect, spirit being, Adam’s creator and, united the serpent, the enlightener of mankind with the true knowledge.
      -Christ being perfect didn’t have a physical body.

      Once we understand Ephesus, we can understand the questions Timothy asked of Paul. For more on this search “Peter Baylis” gnosticism

  13. It is so refreshing to hear someone speak out against some of the ridiculous religious beliefs that so many of us have heard. I have sat under ministries that used scriptures as a threat to our eternal salvation if we don’t shape up and obey all the rules. Instead of finding rest and security in the everlasting arms I was trying to be ” good enough” to get God’s pat on the head. I once wanted to write a book called ” Twisted Scriptures”. It seems Paul is already doing that.

  14. What a wonderful article. May the chorus against man’s folly (religion) get louder along with the solution (the liberating gospel of grace ).

    If the first death stroke against religion was partial and in 1517, will the next be final and in 2017?

  15. Paul, you used an interesting racecar crash photo to illustrate this story. So, speaking of “How Religion Makes Us Stupid,” what about the damage done by the false religious idea that our unchanging Heavenly Father (who tells us “to overcome evil with good” Rom. 12:21), nevertheless uses and approves violence?

    What we believe about the true nature of God affects how we read the Bible, and how we treat people. A. W. Tozer rightly believed that we tend “by a secret law of the soul” to gravitate toward and grow to resemble our mental image of God. Thus, Tozer was convinced that what comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you. High thoughts of God bring us into pure worship and a sanctified walk, while low thoughts of God defile our hearts and corrupt our walk. The bottom line is that you become what you believe about God.

    Here are just a few story headlines for consideration:

    -NASCAR blurs lines between racing and religion
    -Should Christians Watch NASCAR Instead of Football?
    -Mixed martial arts and Christianity: ‘Where Feet, Fist and Faith Collide’
    -Is UFC a Destructive Force for Christians?
    -Why Are So Many Christians Worshipping The American Sniper?

    Blessings.

    • Roshan J Easo // March 4, 2017 at 4:13 am // Reply

      Hermano, you say that now, but thank god for Grace.

      • Roshan J Easo // March 4, 2017 at 12:54 pm //

        Hermano, you are actually right, but I can’t help but try to protect myself. I’m not trying to distract from grace though.

  16. negasi gebrebrhan // January 19, 2017 at 11:02 am // Reply

    Why don’t we follow Him only? , he said follow me ,learn from me ,that should solve the entire argument about religion and doctrine, let’s get revelation not head knowledge.

    • I have often wondered: How do we follow Christ since He lives IN us.

      • Nizam, I think your wondering is the Holy Spirit working in you. If you look at the root meaning of the word follow in John 8:12, for example, it can be thought of as union. I think of following Jesus as being in union with Him.

  17. I used to have a beautiful signed, limited edition by ______ in my home. It was a painting of a father praying by his child’s bed with an angel outside the window blocking the forces of evil. The verse at the bottom read “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16” Every time I read that verse, I was filled with condemnation because I knew that sin in my life was keeping me from being that “righteous man.”

    I eventually gave the print away because it was a constant reminder of my unrighteousness. I still regret the bad teaching that cost me something that I now see was even more beautiful than just the artwork.

  18. I have been under bondage in a lot of religious ideas. I believed that the Holy Spirit condemned me of sin by using the law. I believed fellowship with God was broken when I sinned. I believed acceptance from God came from my obedience. I was in a continual cycle of self performance. I lived in addiction for years and thought God would only save me if I broke my sinful habits. I was deceived into thinking that Gods love, acceptance and forgiveness were dependent on my ability to obey him.

  19. Emmanuel Dagbatsa // January 19, 2017 at 5:16 pm // Reply

    Funny stuff!
    Before i became free from my sin, i was trying to deal with sin by myself. I had a sheet of which i record my good deeds and bad deeds. I was hoping to keep a cleensheet of good deeds but Couldn’t. And so i decided to do more good to cover for the bad ones therefore, God might consider me…lol. Even with that i got fedup keepings of my daily actions to the extent that I forget to record my deeds most times..In fact i gave up. To worsen the situation, i said to myself , if im about to die then i will ask God to forgive all my sins then i will surely be in Heaven…hahaha. Glory be to God for Renewing my Stupid mind and for replacing my fractured lens with His…Amen

  20. bent tiongson // January 19, 2017 at 10:29 pm // Reply

    Thank you for. Ministering to me in a lot of ways. I am a pastor who belonged to the Old Covenant and still learning and applying your teaching about grace. May I request if you can talk about the meaning of suffering for Jesus.

    Thank you and may the Lord continue to bless you and your family.

    • Did Jesus suffer and die to give us a new life of more suffering simply for the sake of suffering? Most of the scriptural context for suffering as a believer are persecution or for standing up for what is right. Sadly some traditions have made suffering some kind of holiness earner where the more miserable you are the better kind of Christian you are. life will not always be roses but God does not find pleasure in our misery. He also has far better tools for our maturing and growth than hurting us.

  21. Religion teaches there is a rapture, God is coming with judgement as well as wrath, there are extremely dark and terrible days ahead, and if you do not get your act together, you are going to be left behind.

    • Are you serious?

      • roshaneaso // January 29, 2017 at 11:46 am //

        yeah, Joseph Prince and co hit that one with grace too. “Day” of evil. But many good “Days” ahead for the believer. Amen. We can all rest in the fact that no one is saved except by the holy Spirit.

  22. Diane Ollison // January 20, 2017 at 3:00 pm // Reply

    Is fasting a command for Christian

  23. Hi Paul I have a question for you maybe you can help me with. Either on here or if you want to shoot me an e-mail. I’m trying to make sense of Galatians 5-21 or so when Paul is talking about walking after the spirit vs the flesh and the obvious views of walking after either one. The part im hung up on is the part where he says I have told you before anyone who practices these things adultery, immorality, outburst of anger will not inherit the kingdom of God. Looking at this through the cross and grace it cannot mean literally what it says. If a Christian falls into an addiction with pornography or drugs or is angry how can we then nullify the promise of eternal life. My view is the term Kingdom of God is life joy and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Also I read the the Greek word for Practice these things is like a lawyer Practices Law or a Doctor Practices medicine. Can you help me with your perspective through the eyes of Grace. Thank you

  24. Great article. Under religious shackles I got “born again” over and over again, everytime I messed up I felt I needed a new start otherwise God would leave me and I’d be lost. Thank God I soon learned the truth about my everlasting righteousness that I received as a gift from Christ our Lord and this truth changed a lot. I found it easier to live for God in this freedom than it ever was under religious rules and regulations.

    Grace, peace and wisdom be yours in abundance.😊

    • So beautiful a reply. Working under the heavy rules, never good enough, no security in Fathers love. Yet His son’s sacrifice is the greatest demonstration of pure love. How did that get lost in some churches?

  25. I enjoy (& share) your straight forward, cut through the religious red tape, get to the truth articles! Keep em coming brother.

  26. How about these doozies I’ve been taught:
    1. God prefers women to wear long skirts instead of pants.
    2. God prefers couples to refrain from practicing birth control.
    3. God prefers people not watch “secular” shows on TV, listen to “worldly” music, or read anything “non-Christian.”
    4. God prefers if the first kiss is given after marriage.
    5. Competitive sports are bad.
    6. Displaying photographs of oneself is vanity.
    7. You “have to” read the Bible and pray everyday.
    8. You must donate 10% of all your gross earnings to the church to be free from “the curse.”
    9. You can lose your salvation.
    10. Watch out–Jesus just may say to you on Judgment Day, “Depart from me into everlasting fire, I never knew you.”
    11. If you don’t warn people in sin, (i.e., meddle in their business and become an obnoxious busybody), their blood will God require at your hand.

  27. So, Paul, literally, doesn’t that mean that ALL people are saved from Hell?

  28. At some point we need our actions to line up with the word. God’s goodness is good enough – better – so let’s just be holy. not do holy. i do find that it’s either self-effort or unlimited grace. self-effort never makes enough sense because people’s lives are precious and valuable enough for God to beautifully and lovingly bear our misery. we have to stop holding on to a mythical potential that through grace we already have. sin isn’t the issue dear preachers. we need an even greater understanding of His finished work.

  29. As at 2010 through 2011 I lived a life of fear and sickness simply because I went to church. The preacher said “if you know something to be a sin and you went ahead to commit it, that’s the unforgivable sin. Just settle for hell because nothing can save you” man! I stopped taking communion and waiting to die and go to hell.. Until I found grace Infact thinking about it now just makes me wonder how I managed to believe such

  30. Reply to Peter
    According to some leaders, no truly Born-Again person can ever commit the unforgivable sin”.

  31. Roshan J Easo // February 2, 2017 at 9:09 am // Reply

    Does this translate further into the realm of success? if I were to seek a career would that be against God’s best for me? it seems that you have to join some religion to get a career going. I would just choose grace, but I don’t know how else to have healthy fun.

  32. daintydamsel // February 3, 2017 at 1:08 am // Reply

    Indeed, when you know
    Jesus in your situation, you will know the way to
    go.

  33. theadventuresinlifeblog // February 4, 2017 at 2:34 pm // Reply

    Very thought provoking! God Bless! Those poor people that believe ISIS is from God. Religion taught me to follow the rules to the exact, I feared God would strike me dead when I did something wrong aka against the laws religion taught me! Good laugh!

  34. You have absolutely no idea how freeing your posts are.

  35. Religion was so much easier on me. . . it taught me to disqualify others and to qualify myself by defining holiness by, “what I was not”. I was not a drinker, smoker, and sadly not a dancer, I didn’t swear, or do drugs. I was so superior because I didn’t have a tattoo or hair that was too long or too short. . . mine was just right. Of coarse I was not a baptist, a Catholic, or J Dub, nor was I a homosexual or an adulterer or Muslim. And so no way would I ever fellowship with anyone who was.

    I was holy, and by maintaining the discipline of accusing others, I became more sure of my holiness. Inside the “bubble” I was counted as wise as I repeated what the leaders said. . . and I was so wise. I briefly thought about wearing nice cloths and a tie, ’cause Jesus wore good clothes. . . And I might be considered for the next rung of the leadership ladder.

    Mine was a life of being accepted and loved within a great big “Family”. . . that is until I began to see the Fathers’ love and forgiveness towards everyone. I began to see the well of knowledge from where we grew in understanding and “wisdom” to be very shallow indeed. When my loyalty to the organisation was questioned, the “family love” stopped coming. . . to teach me a lesson you understand, and bring me back to the “Family”. . . all in love of coarse. . .praise the Lord, hallelujah.

    I have learned that wherever love and acceptance is conditional on loyalty you are much closer to politics than family, or a dysfunctional abusive family at the very least. And I learned that qualifying my holiness by “what I was not” was pride filled stupidity. Now I boast of Jesus’ love for me. . . a love and acceptance that has overflowed to all those I had mercilessly accused.

  36. Here’s one for you Paul, our men were taught this week that if a woman has a question she can’t ask a leader/pastor she has to go home, ask her husband and then he can get the answer and teach her at home.
    Then at communion they were forced to stand and confess all their sin outloud before touching that cracker and grape juice. Thankful my hubby realized the foolishness rather than buy in and discussed it with me.
    Oh you foolish Baptists🤣🤣🙁

  37. Roshan J Easo // February 12, 2017 at 1:15 pm // Reply

    This is really hard. Thanks for saying it though.

  38. Religious nonsense I’ve heard before: Women can’t be pastors, have to submit to their cruel husbands, have painful childbirth, ect. All because it was Eve who first ate the fruit in the garden and that is God’s punishment. Ha!

Tell us what you think (<250 words)...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s