MANY THINGS REPLACING CHRIST
Throughout the ages, there have been too many substitutes for Christ. Perhaps we should call them replacements of Christ. Many things have replaced Christ. I have divided them into two big categories. The first category comes from God. This will definitely shock you, causing you to wonder how things from God can replace Christ. The more obvious ones are two items. The first item is the Bible. Many Christians have made the Bible a replacement of Christ. The Lord Jesus once told the Pharisees, saying, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning Me. Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). Today there are many theologians and Christians who read and study the Bible, yet they are not willing to contact Christ in their spirit. They have made the Bible a replacement of Christ, and they even put Christ aside.
The second item is the law. The Mosaic law was given by God but the Jews replaced Christ with the law. The reason Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians was that, after believing in the Lord, the believers in Galatia returned to the law and replaced Christ with the law. Paul seemed to be saying to the Galatians, “O Galatians, because you believed into Christ, you are now in Christ. All of Christ’s riches and grace have become blessings to you, yet you have now returned to Judaism to keep the law. O Galatians, I want to tell you that if you return to the law, then you are separated from Christ and fallen from grace. This is to say that you are severed from Christ and have reduced yourselves to nothing.”
In the original language, Galatians 5:4 implies, “When you were saved, you entered into Christ. God grafted you into Christ. Thus, all the riches of the life of Christ as the tree have become blessings to you who are the branches. However, since you have returned to the law, you have ruined your status. You have reduced yourself to nothing and brought to naught all of the rich grace in Christ. Hence, you have fallen from the grace of Christ. You are deprived of grace and of all the riches in Christ.” The law was given by God to be used temporarily by Him until Christ should come. Now that Christ has come, the law should be set aside. You should only remain in Christ and not return to the law.
Perhaps you would say, “Today we have nothing to do with the law.” However, I must tell you that although you do not have the law given by Moses, you do have your self-made laws. Especially all those whose will is strong have their own laws: “I do not do this; I do not do that; I am a well-behaved person. My will is strong, my mind is sober, and my emotions are proper; therefore I have regulation one, regulation two, and regulation three. This is my human life.” This is your law, and it is not Christ. Thus, the Bible and the law have become replacements of Christ.
Even the gifts today have become replacements of Christ. Some people speak in tongues, some heal the sick, and some practice other gifts. Although these are things given by God, they can become replacements of Christ.
REPLACEMENTS FROM HUMAN CULTURE
The second category of replacements for Christ comes from human culture. Not one nation is without culture. The book of Colossians deals with culture. At that time the believers had fallen totally into culture. Colossae was in Asia Minor, and among the Colossians, some were Jews and others were Greeks. The Jews had their religious philosophy; the Greeks had their Gnostic philosophy. These two philosophies intermixed to become the Colossian philosophy, which the Colossian believers received and by which they lived and walked. Therefore, Paul said, “As therefore you have received the Christ, Jesus the Lord, walk in Him.…Beware that no one carries you off as spoil through his philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:6, 8). According to the Bible, all philosophies are elementary things. Although the Chinese speak of The Great Learning, it is nonetheless elementary. Therefore, the philosophy and tradition referred to in these verses are things of human society. In the early days these things invaded the church in Colossae to replace Christ.
Among us here we have Chinese, Japanese, Indonesians, and Filipinos. Consider yourselves. Are you living Christ today, or are you living yourselves as Chinese, Japanese, Indonesians, or Filipinos? I know that even among the overseas Chinese brothers and sisters, those from the Philippines have one flavor, those from Indonesia have another flavor, those from Malaysia have a third flavor, and those from Thailand have a fourth flavor. There is only a bridge separating Malaysia from Singapore, yet the flavors from the two sides are not the same. You all live the many flavors of the overseas Chinese, but you do not live Christ.
(Living Christ, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)