5. Secret Knowledge The counterfeit religion will alway feature an extra-Biblical, extra ecclesial set of beliefs. Devotees will not only have to believe the Bible–but their sect’s interpretation of the Bible. This interpretation will be codified either in a set of writings by their founder or an informal body of beliefs which are assumed to be held by all. In some cases the “secret knowledge” will be the use of a specialized liturgy or a set of rituals which is deemed to be not only superior but more holy. Those who learn the secret knowledge are the insiders. Everyone else is scorned.
6. Anger and Fear – These are not happy people. They must have an enemy and they must crucify that enemy. Even if they do not resort to physical violence they will resort to verbal, psychological and social violence. Having an enemy helps them justify their position. Without an enemy their lives would be pointless.
7. Condemning Others – Combined with the need to have an enemy those following the counterfeit religion need to condemn all those who are outside the sect. It is not good enough to have an enemy. The enemy must be attacked. They must “fight the good fight” and defeat the perceived evil.
8.Resistance to Criticism – The anti-religion religious people cannot bear criticism. Any critique–no matter how gently phrased or how delicately communicated, will be taken as “an attack on all of us!” Their engrained self righteousness means it is usually impossible for them to backtrack or accept any kind of criticism. They will not bow.
9. Demonizing the Opposition The Pharisees were quick to say that Jesus was demon possessed. Likewise with any counterfeit religious group. The enemy is always of the devil and inspired by the devil. The idea that the devil does his best work by counterfeiting religion and creating the religious anti-religion never occurs to them.
10. Domination and Deceit In the gospels this week Jesus constantly speaks with utmost clarity and simplicity. The Pharisees lie and bully and pick a fight the whole time. Jesus calls them on it and says plainly, “You are liars.” The deception here though, is not the simple lie of a child who tells a fib to get out of trouble. This is a deep and pervasive lie. The counterfeit religious leaders live the lie and believe the lie. They are people of the lie, and as people of the lie they must dominate if they can.
As we approach Holy Week the whole exercise of our religion is to draw our attention to this massive conflict between the Christ and the anti-Christ. The entire conflict is between the Man of Truth and the People of the Lie. The whole drama is between the Son of God and the Children of Perdition.
May God have mercy on our souls as we walk this path, witness his passion and choose our sides.
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