Breaking Free from the Treadmill of Religion
- Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Not long ago, I went to my doctor’s office for my annual physical, and they put me up on a treadmill for a stress test. When they first started the machine, I was walking at a nice, easy pace and I felt pretty good about my performance. In fact, I was thinking, “This is easy! No problem here!”
But pretty soon, I heard that small rumbling sound of the treadmill incline beginning to rise. And then I heard it again. And again. And again! After a few minutes, I was starting to sweat! And about 15 minutes later, I didn’t think the test was so easy any more.
By the time I finished (or gave up!), I was huffing and puffing…my legs felt like jelly…and I could barely stand up! I had nothing left.
As I have thought about that treadmill, I realized the sad truth that many people today find themselves on a religious treadmill…trying to perform in order to please God. Perhaps that’s even where you find yourself today.
Many people jump on the religious treadmill at a young age and think, “Hey, this is easy, I can keep the commandments of God. I can live this Christian life in my own power, on my own terms, no problem.”
Then life gets a little harder, the incline gets steeper, and the stress starts to rise. And people finally come to that place where they realize that no matter how spiritually fit they are, they can’t continue on. And they give up.
Today I want to focus your attention on that spiritual place of exhaustion…that place at the end of your rope… where you realize that no amount of religious “treadmilling” can get you closer to heaven or to God.
Because it is at this place that God wants to speak to you—and to encourage you.
The Bible tells us in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ….” As believers in Christ, you and I have been justified by Him.
“Justified” means that when you accept Christ, Jesus takes your sin, your guilt, and your judgment, and He gives you His righteousness. You stand secure in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is not by works!
This justification through faith in Christ results in three positive benefits for you and me. Three results that can, and should, make all the difference in your life:
1. Serenity. The peace that Paul is talking about in Romans 5:1 is so much more than peace of mind or positive thinking. It is eternal peace with God. As a believer in Christ, you—who were once an enemy of God—are now at peace with Him.
2. Stability. Romans 5:2 goes on to say, “…through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand….” You and I stand in the grace of God, my friend. We stand in His shoes! That means nothing we can do can make us lose our salvation…and that is true stability!
3. Security. The last part of Romans 5:2 says, “…and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We have confident assurance of heaven because the “hope of the glory of God” means you and I will one day be in His presence!
So you see, because of our justification through Christ, we have serenity with God that takes care of our past…we have stability with God that takes care of our present…and we have security in God that takes care of our future. What a promise!
No amount of religious works will get you to that place with the Lord. It is by faith…trusting in Christ and Christ alone. That means the religious treadmill has no place in the life of a believer!
I hope this truth is a blessing to you today…and that it helps you break free from the chains of that religious treadmill to a life of freedom and hope in Christ!
Dr. Jack Graham is pastor of the 24,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church. He is committed to helping Christians experience the Kingdom of God and it’s power in every area of their lives. He is also a noted author of numerous books, including A Hope and a Future, Diamonds in the Dark, Lessons from the Heart, and Life According to Jesus, which can be found at www.jackgraham.org. PowerPoint Ministries is the radio and television broadcast ministry of Dr. Graham.
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