RELIGIOUS SERVICE REPLACING CHRIST
Religious service is a replacement of Christ. If we have religious service, we do not have Christ because religious service replaces Christ. We can also say that religion usurps the position of Christ and opposes Christ. For this reason, and in order to gain Christ, Paul suffered the loss of his religious service. This was absolutely right. Whenever religious service gains the ground in a person, it will be difficult for that person to know Christ in a deeper way. The problem that hinders a person the most from growing in life properly and knowing Christ thoroughly after his salvation is having too many religious concepts. Religious concepts fill and occupy a person so that Christ has no ground in him and has no way to express Himself through him. If a person is filled with so many religious things, including religious thoughts, concepts, and inclinations, he has no way to know more of Christ and of God.
RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS BEING A PROBLEM TO CHRISTIANS
May we all see that religious concepts are a problem. We think that sins, the world, the flesh, and the devil are the only problems facing a Christian. We may think that as long as we have thoroughly dealt with these four things—sins, the world, the flesh, and the devil—we will be able to be perfect Christians. Please do not forget that this kind of Christian is most likely one who lives merely by his religious concepts. This kind of person probably has never been enlightened or seen the revelation. All he has is ordinary religious concepts. However, once he receives the shining of God, he will see that the most subjective problem facing Christians is not sins, the world, the flesh, or the devil, but the religious concept of doing good that is within them.
RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS BELONGING TO THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL AND THE ISSUE OF CONTACTING THIS TREE BEING DEATH
In the Old Testament we see that God put man in the garden of Eden. In this garden there were two trees—one was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the other was the tree of life (Gen. 2:9). There was no third tree. The tree of life, no doubt, was for man to receive life. What was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? The Bible says, “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (v. 17). From this we see that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not meant to be touched. Whoever contacted it would die. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil had both good and evil. God said that the issue of contacting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be death. The issue of contacting evil is death, and the issue of contacting good is also death. Only life is life and will be forever life. Good is not life and cannot replace life. Anything that is apart from life, whether it is good or evil, is not life. Only life is life. Anything that is outside of life is not life. Hence, even though religious and ethical concepts may be good, they are apart from life and cannot touch life.
This does not mean that we should not do good, perform good deeds, or have any religious concepts. Although religious concepts may be good, they serve only as a bridge to lead man to Christ. Once we have been led to Christ, however, we should not treasure the bridge; rather, we should destroy it. If we do not destroy it, there may be a chance that we would go back. Thus, some Christians are advancing and then retreating all the time. After a person has been led to God by his religious concepts, he should immediately condemn and destroy that concept. “What things were gains” to him should be “counted as loss” once he knows and sees Christ as the One of peerless worth in the universe (Phil. 3:7-8). If he treasures his religious concept and his religious service, he will have no way to enjoy more of Christ. A person may be truly saved yet still have a very superficial experience of Christ and no spiritual progress at all. This is because he is full of religious concepts. Since he is still living by his religious concepts, he has no way to know Christ in a deeper way. This problem is altogether due to the religious concepts within him.
(The Path of Our Growth in Life, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)