It will astonish many to be told that the word for
"religious" occurs only once in the Greek scriptures, (Acts
17:22) and the word for "religion" occurs only once, (Acts
25:19). These are the most common words in Christendom today and
are used without the knowledge of their true meaning.
The people of Athens were what we today would call
heathens. Paul said to them, (Acts 17:22), "I am beholding on
all sides how unusually religious you are." According to our
apostle, those who are religious are those who know not the true God and
Festus, himself a heathen, said, concerning the
charge brought by the Jews against Paul, "I suspected that they had
certain questions concerning their own religion," (Acts
25:19). Remember, it was a heathen who used the word
"religion," and he did it under the mistaken idea that Paul
and the Jews had religion, like himself. Neither Paul nor the Jews
The word in Greek is: DEISIDAIMON, (religious);
DEISIDAIMONIA, (religion); DEISI is DREAD; DAIMON is DEMON. In
other words, DREAD-DEMON is the word that is properly translated
That those whom we call heathens worship demons, is
clearly stated in I Cor. 10:20: "But that which the nations are
sacrificing, they are sacrificing to demons and not to God."
It is a mistake to think they worship idols made of wood or stone or
metal. The visible idol is but the emblem of the demon they
worship - and any student of scriptures knows that a demon is an evil
spirit. In other words, the heathen does not worship an imaginary
being; he worships a being who is real. This is brought out in the
story of Paul's ministry in Athens. The people there said of him
"He seems to be an announcer of strange demons," (Acts
17:18). The King James translators, in their characteristic
slip-shod way, made them say Paul was setting forth strange
However, those same translators did not miss the
truth when they came to translate DEISI-DAIMON. They rendered it
"superstitious" in Acts 17:22 and "superstitious" in
Acts25:19. As a matter of fact, religion is what we call
People are governed by superstition to an alarming
extent. These superstitions are not something to be merely laughed
at; they should be roundly condemned. They are quite prevalent in
the South, and older people tell us they originated with the Negroes who
were brought to the United States from Africa, and sold into
slavery. That they were a low type of heathens is well
known. Well they brought their religion (superstition), with them
and installed it into the minds of white children. It has been
handed down from one generation to another, and is here today, to hinder
the activities of many.
One must not begin a task on Friday that cannot be
finished that day; a family must not move to a different home on Friday;
it is bad luck to carry an axe or a hoe trough the house; trash must not
be swept out at the door after sunset; ashes must not be taken up after
the sun goes down; to break a mirror means seven years bad luck; if one
kills a cat it will bring the worst kind of misfortune! On the
other hand, a horse shoe hung up is sure to bring hood luck!
Religion, (superstition), has invaded the scriptures,
supposedly. A man declared to me once that the Bible says,
"Cursed is the woman who washes clothes on Good Friday;"
Brother I. T. Watkins told of a man who rejoiced because it rained on
the day a friend was buried quoting the "scripture,"
"Blessed is the corpse that it raineth on."
It is not to be thought that the Negroes brought all
this with them from Africa. They probably originated much of it
after coming here. And then it is highly probable that white
people started a good bit of it themselves; but they got the idea from
those who had been demon-worshippers in Africa.
No superstitious person would claim that God will
hurt one for beginning a task on Friday, for moving on Friday, for
sweeping the floor or taking up ashes after sunset, or for carrying an
axe or a hoe through the house, or for breaking a mirror, or for killing
a cat. Neither will they claim that God will give one good luck
because he has hung up a horse shoe. Well, if God is not going to
do these things, who will? No one will answer; perhaps they don't
quite know who will do them. But it is clear that if they are done, and
God is not the Doer, then demons are. So unconsciously, they are
Religion - demon worship - is not done in love; it is
done in a spirit of dread, and takes the form of trying to pacify
demons, in order to escape "bad luck." This is the
purpose of heathens, and it is the purpose of "Christian"
devotees of superstition.
I emphatically condemn such trash, and declare it
smacks of a lack of faith in God. May every saint be entirely free
from such rubbish!
The Greek word which the King James translators
render "religion," is THRESKEIA, and should be rendered
RITUAL. Ritualism is the order of divine service that God gave to
Israel. It consists of ceremonial observances. However, these
ceremonies were simply the shell while charitable acts and a clean life
constituted the "meat" of the nut. Because Israel saw
nothing but the shell, and were careful to observe the ceremonies while
they were careless as to good acts, God was highly displeased with
them. James goes to the heart of the matter in writing to the
twelve tribes (not to us). He says: "If any one is seeming to
be a ritualist not bridling his tongue, but seducing his heart, the
ritual of this one is vain, for clean ritual and undefiled with God,
ever the Father, is this, to be visiting the bereaved and windows in
their affliction, and to be keeping oneself unspotted from the
world." (James 1:26, 27).
But ritualism is not for us any more than religion
is. The word spoken to Israel, through messengers, (Heb. 2:2), is
the word of ritualism. It consists of offerings, baptism, and
observance of days and seasons. The ritual of Israel is a ritual
of messengers. We are warned against it in these words: "Now
let no one be arbitrating against you willfully, by humility and the
ritual of messengers, parading what is seen, affectedly puffed up by his
fleshly mind, and not holding the Head," (Col. 2:18).
By far the greater part of Christendom is in the
bondage of ritualism. While the "churches" do not
presume to carry on all the ritualistic observances given to Israel,
they do observe much of it, and use it as a basis of arbitration, or
deciding the worthiness of the saints. If one is not observing the
ritual of baptism, for instance, Christendom decides against him.
Some of the denominations arbitrate against him if he does not observe
feet-washing; others, if he does not observe lent; and so on.
The ritual of Christendom filched from Israel, is
carried on in willfulness, or stubbornness at the same time Christendom
affects great humility. It consists of parading what is seen
rather than true piety, which cannot be seen. It is of the flesh
and the fleshly mind is puffed up. At the same time, Christendom
is not holding the Head - Christ. Ritualistic observances are
depended on for growth, whereas Paul says it is out of Christ, the Head,
that "the entire body, being supplied and united through the
assimilation and ligaments is growing in the growth of God," (Col.
2:19). It is evident therefore, that the growth of Christendom is
not the growth of God, since it depends, not on the Head, but on
There is one ritual which we may observe.
However, it is not a ritual of messengers, neither is it
mandatory. I refer to the observance of the Lord's Dinner.
"For I accepted from the Lord, what I give over also to you, that
the Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and
giving thanks, He breaks it and said 'This is My body which is broken
for your sakes. Be doing this for a recollection of Me.'
Similarly the cup, also, after dinner saying, 'This is the cup of the
new covenant in My blood. Be doing this, whensoever you should be
drinking, for a recollection of Me.' For when so ever you should
be eating this bread and drinking this cup, you are announcing the
Lord's death till He should be coming," (I Cor. 11:23-26).
Paul did not receive this from the Circumcision writers. In other
words, the fact that it is recorded by those writers popularly called
"the four evangelists," is no reason why we may observe
it. But the Lord gave it directly to Paul, our apostle. Paul
does not tell us to observe it; he simply gives us the privilege of
doing so. Since it is a ceremonial observance, it is a
ritual. But it is not a ritual of messengers. Therefore Col.
2:18 does not warn us against it.
That which differentiates us from Israel, as well as
from heathens, in the matter of divine service, is found in Phil.
3:3: "For we are the circumcision who are offering divine
service to God in spirit, and are glorying in Christ Jesus, and have no
confidence in flesh."
FELLOWSHIP IN THE EVANGEL
Here is another opportunity for fellowship in the
evangel: DeLand, Fla., is a field that must be worked. But
those who are sponsoring my meetings to be held there in March are not
able to even pay the hall rent. Do several of you want to send me
25 cents each, to help make this meeting a success? If so, send it
right on at once, and have the happiness that comes with having a part
in the spread of the evangel. It will all be used for that
particular mission field. When you send it, please state what it