Well praise Jesus today everyone. Many of you know my testimony of where I came from. So I was a paid pastor. I grew up in church. My mom and my dad raised me in church. Church and the life in church is not foreign to me, and I'm not preaching against church because I had a bad experience there or because people did not like me or because I didn't fit in. 

But the reason why I preach against American church and the religious church is because Jesus is not welcome there. If we want truth and life, it has to start with a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. And He calls us out of everything that is a lie and everything that is impure. When I was raised in church, when I was younger, I always knew that there was some kind of problem there. But when you are inside of a cesspool, and you've been there your whole life, you start to accept things just for how they are because that is all you know. But when Jesus started showing me that you can come out of sin, you need to separate yourself from things that are ungodly. You don't have to be around people who are manipulating you and controlling you and saying that you have to be in their Bible studies and believe how they do. When Jesus called me out of that, I was liberated from sin and bondage and bondage also to the false doctrines in church. The false doctrine of once saved always saved, thinking that we're going to heaven just because we've prayed a prayer in the past, that we always keep sinning and can't truly repent. I believed a lot of doctrines of Calvinistic theology and all of these ideas that came from my upbringing in church. But when I met Jesus, He set me free from that bondage. 

And church has become bondage because people are attached to their organization and they believe everything that comes out of the pastor's mouth instead of out of Jesus' mouth. And it's interesting because what Satan has done is said, you have to be part of a church because you will die, you're cut off from the living tree if you're not part of a church. But if you go back and you read what Jesus said, Jesus never said that you would wither up and die because you're not part of a church. He said you would wither up and die if you're not part of Him. He is the vine, we are the branches. The church is not the vine. We are the branches, Jesus is the true vine. 

And most churches are not connected to the vine. They're doing everything by the arm of the flesh. They set themselves up like an organization. They make you feel guilty for not paying tithes there. They say you're a second class Christian or you're not even really a Christian at all, you're a rebellious Christian if you're not part of them. That's exactly what the Catholic Church did to Protestants when they first left the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church said, well you're going to hell because you're not paying your respect to us. And then you had all these Baptists and people who broke away from the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church shamed them because they were not part of them. Now the Christian Evangelical Church is doing that same thing again to other people who choose to separate from their ungodliness. History repeats itself over and over again. 

Who will we belong to? Will we belong to the true vine? Or will we get lonely and think we need this false Christian fellowship? A lot of us get lonely and we think, where will I have community? Who will hold me up? Maybe you're divorced. Maybe your children are all grown. Maybe you're looking for some real friendship. And in your life you go to work, then you come back home. You don't want to watch TV. You don't want to pollute your mind. But where else will you go? So immediately you think, it's better if I go to church at least on the weekends so that I can be around some other people who have a similar faith. And so then you get into a church. You start realizing some of the things there you don't believe. There's some things there that are sinful. But hey, they say we're all sinners. And as you start to go there because you're lonely, the devil starts to prey on your soul. And then you become friends and let people into your house that think a little bit differently than you do, that introduce you to certain sins that you once knew were sins. And as they introduce these sins into your house, you start to accept them.

 The closer sin gets to you and your household, the more you start to accept it because you don't want to rebuke things that you allowed into your life. You were the one that was lonely. You were the one that sought out Christian fellowship. You were the one that started the Bible study in your house and allowed these people into your house. So then how can you turn your back on them and reject the friends that you wanted? So now the devil has a foothold in your heart and in your household. This is how Satan steals from you what is truly yours, which is genuine faith in Jesus Christ. This is how Satan severs you off from the vine and you become a branch disconnected from the vine, even though you are plugged into a local church body. 

Too many Christians are lonely and instead of seeking Jesus Christ to fill the void in their heart, they seek after what they perceive as good Christian fellowship, brotherhood and sisterhood. And Satan will prey on you if you are like this. Don't give in to loneliness or temptation or trading a genuine relationship and faith with Jesus for a lonely, depressed feeling that you're trying to fill that void with ungodly friends. The world does the same thing. You feel like you're depressed because you have problems with your wife, so you go out and you drink with your buddies, you go out to the bar, you go do something to vacate your mind so you don't have to think about the reality of your home life. 

That's not ever going to fix the problem. The problems that surround your life are due to sin. You can't appease God by going to church or going to a Bible study or memorizing scripture or listening to a sermon. You can't appease God by the works of your flesh. What you have to do is repent. And the sins that you're in your life, you have to start detoxing those. If you have sins that you need to confess to someone because you've wronged someone, you need to go and confess those and get right before man, and then you need to confess to God and get right before Him. Without making these small steps in your life to reach out to Jesus Christ, you won't grow in your faith at all.

 And a lot of Christians are trying to appease God by church attendance, by Bible study, they're trying to appease God by doing mission trips, by giving money to the homeless, by doing all these things to appease their conscience and feel like they're earning their way into heaven by their good deeds. But they're not reaching God and they know it because they still feel condemned in their heart, they still feel depressed even though they're trying to cover over it with allowing all these church people into their home and Bible studies and getting involved with sports and all these things. All of it becomes a mask, trying to cover over what they are really feeling and sensing inside of them. 

And the Holy Spirit is working on you. Right now the Holy Spirit is trying to speak to you, trying to bring you into righteousness, trying to separate you from the world. If you keep on trying to go to vomit, like a dog back to its vomit, you won't be able to accept the things of Jesus Christ. Jesus calls us to be separate, He doesn't call us to go out and get involved with dead religion. He calls us to be separate from the world, He doesn't call us just to go out and appease our flesh with going out with buddies to the bar and to watch movies and to go just entertain ourselves with things that are ungodly. He calls us to separate from the world, that we can hear His voice and do His work. Apart from Him, that is Jesus Christ, we can do nothing. 

So the question I have for you today is, are you as a branch connected to the vine and truly alive? Are you connected to Jesus or do you just think that you are alive because you're connected to a church? I know many of you feel good about yourselves because you belong to a church, you feel good because you're donating your tithe to the right place, you're keeping up with your Bible study and your Bible reading every morning. But what has Jesus really demanded of us? What has He called you to do? And are you doing that? Are you living holy? Are you standing up for the truth of Jesus or are you just trying to appease a guilty conscience? 

Search inside your soul, pray and say, Lord Jesus, am I really right with you? Is my conscience really clear? Or has my conscience been mutated, warped? Has Satan stolen truth out of me and then messed with my conscience to make me feel guilty about things that you, O Lord, don't even care about? I know you don't care about how I look on the outside or how people perceive me or how often I go to church or how often I read the Bible or how much I have memorized or how many mission trips I've went on. I know, Lord, that you care about my soul and if I am pure before you." how is your relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you holy and pure before Him? Are you really doing His work? Do you know that you know when you stand before Him, He will say, "enter into my presence, my servant who has done my will"? Do you know that your life is pleasing to Jesus? May the grace of Jesus be with you.