genuinely seeking a new direction for their lives; they were weeping and praising God for their newfound faith. It would have been a perfect time to encourage these new believers. Instead, the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “We got rules in this church!” He continued for several minutes outlining dress codes for women, where they could or could not go, and he threw a few barbs at some other churches for not having his perceived level of holiness.
The effects of his diatribe became evident. You could see a change in those who had come to the altar. What began as tears of joy, turned to looks of bewilderment. They had come seeking Jesus, but got a list of man-made rules. They had come to the altar and had a genuine experience with Jesus Christ; but became subjected to a plethora of guidelines that determined their worthiness for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 23:15). This is what Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for doing.
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them” (Matthew 23:13 New Revised Standard Version).
A religious spirit wants to be in control. People who are under the influence of this spirit must have the last say in all matters. They intend for their word to be final. One of the clearest characteristics of a religious spirit is control. It establishes an atmosphere where it alone dictates what does or does not take place.
The scribes and Pharisees considered themselves to be the religious elite of Jesus day. They positioned themselves to be the interpreters and enforcers of the law. You could not do anything without their approval. They held all the ‘righteous cards’. They established strict guidelines that gave them the authority to determine who was worthy, and who was not. This is eerily similar to what happens in many church systems.
Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. This is interesting. A hypocrite is someone who knows the facts but chooses a lie. Jesus called them hypocrites because they kept people out of the kingdom and did not enter in themselves. Let that sink in for a moment.
It is one thing to bar people from entering the kingdom, but it another issue for them to refuse to enter themselves. This latter point suggests they had an awareness of the kingdom. In other words, the scribes and the Pharisees refused to enter a place they apparently were familiar with.
The question must be asked, “Why would someone who is knowledgeable of the Kingdom refuse to enter it?” I believe it is because of the threat the kingdom poses to the leadership in the church system. Church leaders have a vested interest in maintaining a definition of the kingdom that benefits them. It is the same ploy that King James used when he had the word church inserted to replace ekklesia. For the king, the scribes and the Pharisees, knowledge of the truth threatened their hierarchal position. In fact, this was the stated position of the Pharisees.
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." (John 11:47-48)
Am I against boundaries? Absolutely not. They may be necessary as you disciple new believers. But those boundaries should point to a life in Christ (Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:19), not conformity to a religious human system. Boundaries are only necessary to equip a believer to function on their own.
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. (Galatians 4:1-2)
The rise of ekklesia is also the advent of the Day of the Saints. This is when millions of believers are being established, developed and released to impact every sphere of the world. Religious spirits know that you cannot release people and expect to survive. The very nature of the Lord’s ekklesia is to empower and release the saints with the keys of the Kingdom. But be aware of the next Religious Spririt - Image!
About The Author
Tim Kurtz is the Founder of The Ekklesia Center. The purpose of this blog/vlog is to explore subjects that show how the mistranslation of ekklesia to church has impacted the Body of Christ. He has served in ministry over three decades amd is the author of several books. He and his wife Carolyn have been married 46 years and live in SC Michigan.