Daily Archives: November 2, 2009

Some Food For Thought–Sour Godliness???–The Devil’s Religion!

Screwtape encountering his "righteous" victim

Have you been the unwitting accomplice of any demons lately?

Hmmm…church ladies…could it be Satan?

The capability of church people to spew forth guile and judgment never ceases to amaze me.

I hate the contemporary versions of the “religion of the pharisees” that I see run rampant in the Church of Jesus Christ.

John Wesley, seeking to put a name to the critical judgmental attitude he experienced among the Christians of his era wrote,

“Sour godliness is the devil’s religion. It does not owe its inception to truly spiritual people.  I suspect that sour godliness originated among unhappy, semi-religious people who had just enough religion to make them miserable, but not enough to do them any good.”

Sour godliness, (i.e. bitter piety) could it be described any better and it is as prevalent today as it was over two hundred years ago…or for that matter over two thousand years ago.

What is so ironic is…

Jesus fought against “false perceptions of godliness” judgmentally perpetuated by those who viewed themselves as “the righteous” of His day.

Jesus battled “the Pharisees” those He called “the sons of devils” and had no qualms about declaring them in league with Satan himself.

Jesus was not at war with the sinner, he was at war with the self-righteous.

And alas, in the end, they won…it was their same false judgments– kindled to a bonfire and ignited by the devil–that were used to murder Him.

And…What is so scary to me is…

The same demons that were alive back then are still around today.  Those same evil entities that whispered in the ears of the Pharisees are still deluding, deceiving and encouraging those puffed up with their own “errant pious” inclinations to do their dirty work.

C.S. Lewis, in his classic, “The Screwtape Letters” aptly pictured these demons schooling one another in the talent to tempt vulnerable Christians into “religious unholiness.”  Lewis with his words paints a picture of the Senior devil Screwtape in a Speech before the “Annual Dinner of the Tempters’ Training College for Young Devils.”

Screwtape slithers to the stage and exhorts his underlings of the underworld…

“It will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by “religion” ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins.  The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the Holy.  Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.” — quoted from C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”

Fellow Christians, let’s be wary of falling into Screwtape’s trap–let us beware of enlisting ourselves in the pursuit of “unholy religion” practiced at the very foot of the altar.

This week in my home church we are studying, Luke 23, the trial of Jesus before Pilate.  In this passage, Pilate–the secular ruler of the time–would have let Jesus go free finding no fault in Him, but in the end the cries of “the unholy religious” of His time dictated Jesus’ death instead.

Could you be allowing “sour godliness” to rule your soul?  Evaluate yourselves and hear Jesus’ counsel, “beware the leaven of the Pharisees!”


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