Many of us know what God has to say about ethics, and if we break His commands it is sin. But, can you be too conservative? Is it sinful to be too “religious?”
Let me give some qualifiers. First, let’s be clear about what I am not talking about. I am not speaking about conservatism within politics, but within ethics, religion, and spirituality. Second, I am not one to say, “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion,” because, by definition, this relationship with Christ is a religion.
What I am talking about are those times when we act so “religious” – so conservative in how we act – that it is actually sin.
Many of you may have grown up like me: in a home, church, or some Christian institution where things were very strict. Now I realize that strict is not a great definition because one man’s strict is another man’s liberal.
The strictness I am talking about is being more strict, more conservative, more “religious” than what Scripture prescribes. I am talking about being more strict than Jesus.
TURNING TO THE RIGHT IS A SIN
After Moses died, Joshua was put into leadership and started to lead God’s people. He gave a famous speech calling God’s people to continue to follow God’s law given through Moses. In the middle of it, Joshua called for God’s people to “not turn from it to the right hand or to the left (Joshua 1:7).”
We all know breaking God’s law is sin, but turning to the right is sin as well. It is adding to God’s law. It is adding to what God says is right and righteous. This is not the only time this warning is given. This same idea or phrase is also given in Deuteronomy 5:32, 28:14, and Joshua 23:6.
We are also told not to add to Scripture as much as we are told not to take away from it. This is what being too strict, too conservative, more “religious” than Jesus does. It adds to God’s Word. This warning of adding to the Word is given in Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, and Revelation 22:18.
This was the sin of the Pharisees. They were always adding their own laws to God’s laws. Jesus called out their sin on this. Their sin wasn’t breaking God’s law to the left, but adding to it to the right.
TURNING TO THE RIGHT HAS CONSEQUENCES
Let’s also state that all sin has consequences. This is nothing new. What are the consequences of people turning to the right of God? People can fall away from the faith. In I Timothy 4:1-4, we are taught that there were people trying to be more spiritual than God. They were banning things God called righteous. This leads people astray as well.
If there is somewhere I have personally seen this a lot it is with teenagers and young adults. Adolescents were taught certain things were sin, that God did not call sin. What happens when we do that: eventually they are shown by others what the Bible says, and realize they were taught wrong. This makes them question other things they were taught correctly and should continue to believe. Bad theology has bad consequences.
PETER’S SIN OF TURNING TO THE RIGHT
We have a great example in Acts 10:9-16. God comes to Peter in a dream. He brings a blanket of animals down to Peter and tells Peter to eat them. Peter refuses because He believes Old Testament laws which God had freed His followers from (in concerns of which animals they were allowed to eat).
Peter refuses three times. God calls Peter out on this: how dare you call something unclean which I have made clean. In other words, you can’t be more spiritual, more religious than me. This is a sin, you need to repent.
TURNING TO THE RIGHT CREATES PRIDE
Lastly, turning to the right is pride – sinful pride. It’s in the same vein that got Satan tossed out of Heaven. How is turning to the right pride?
It says, “God, you are not strict enough, religious enough. Your rules are not good enough.” It says, “God, your laws are good, but I have rules and laws, too.” It thinks of itself as better than God.
Many conservative Christians do well holding the line against sins that society, and even liberal churches excuse. The question is, do we try to be more religious than Jesus? Are we committing the sin of turning to the right or adding to God’s Word? If so, confess this sin of pride, repent, and turn to God and His ways and let Him lead your life.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.