Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" (Matt. 19:3)One might wonder what kind of test this was. The reason this was a test is that the Jewish organization of Pharisees and Sadducees had a strict code of ethics at that time, that had been interpreted from the scripture of the prophets. We can contrast this with Jesus’ comment about Moses, pointing out that Moses’ law was based upon the situation and circumstances among that particular society:
“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard." (Matt. 19:8)This illustrates the importance of the spiritual teachings of God being passed down through living representatives of God, who take into account the time and circumstance and current society as these teachings are to be applied. Yet at the same time, they do not deviate from God's Message.
This point underscores the problem that most organized religious institutions have fallen into. They suffer from a lack of potency because they are attempting to portray the teachings of prior living representatives of God using people who have been elected by men rather than chosen by God.
The democratic or council process of electing a priest, pope, cardinal, minister, reverend, rabbi, imam, or whatever the title given is not sanctioned by God. Men have determined this process, not God. Men have developed these organized assemblies, not God. And it is the men (and women) within these assemblies that are choosing their teacher.
What kind of teacher does this determine, we might ask? The democratic process chooses teachers that teach what those people who chose them want them to teach.
But couldn't this also be what God will teach? Won't an assembly of people portray God's will?
This is absolutely absurd. Groups of people don't determine Truth. Groups of people have been responsible for so many of the atrocities that have been conducted against others, including the the tortures and murders of the Spanish inquisition, including the racial brutality of the ku klux klan and including today's terrorism in the name of religion. These are all conducted by groups of people who have chosen their leaders through committees. Today we also have seen so many sexual abuses of young children that have been made by priests that were chosen by committee. Were these not people who were supposed to be giving us God's Message?
This process of teaching through committee has turned nearly every religious organization into a politically-oriented organization, whose teachings are founded upon continuing and growing the membership of the organization rather than representing God.
It is interesting to note that just about every religion today is based upon the teachings of a representative or representatives of God who taught outside of the organized religions of their day? This is true of Moses, Abraham, Jacob, David, Job, Francis of Assisi and of course Jesus.
We should also note that Jesus took initiation (baptism) from John the Baptist, who also taught outside the confines of any organized religious group.
It is not that organizations are necessarily bad. But a religious organization whose leaders or teachers are chosen by councils of men/women rather than God is an empty organization. This organization has no life: no substance. Why? Because those teachers are not representing the Living God. They are representing the people who elected them.
God's Message is passed down from a devoted loving servant of God - a teacher who has developed his or her personal relationship with God, as well as taken instruction from a person who also previously developed that relationship. Because the teacher has a special loving relationship with God, he or she begins teaching God's Message, oriented towards the time and place (as guided by God).
Many times that Truth will not be well-received, because men and women of the world like to protect their territories, and they don’t like anyone who teaches something that doesn’t fit the doctrines accepted by their institution.
And those they attract to their organization will also be desiring the acceptance and prestige of others. The organization provides this, while they provide the organization with the talent to carry on the organization once the organization's current charismatic leader dies. Once the leader dies, the group's members create councils to elect their next leader(s), and the process continues.
So many of these ecclesiastical organizations have spawned over the centuries. Most are simply political organizations disguised as religious organizations. They are wolves dressed in sheep's clothing.
Thus we will hear all sorts of crazy interpretations from these teachers. We will hear them teach that if we pray to Jesus, our bodies will become healthy, and we will become wealthy. They teach that Jesus will help us get that job we want, or help our football team win their game. We will hear them teach that our families are all-important, our jobs are all-important, and that having a nice house with a white picket fence is all-important. They teach that all we have to do is stare at Jesus' cross and pledge that we have been saved by Jesus, and all our sins are forgiven and we will be picked up by Jesus in his second coming.
These messages are quite opposite to the real Message of God's representatives, who simply request that we become God's loving servants. They request that we do God's will. They request that we give up our self-centered desires for the physical body, the physical family, money, house, fame and the acceptance of others, and simply take shelter of the Supreme Being - and love God with all our heart and soul.
This was Jesus' teachings, and the teachings of Jesus' disciples. It was also John the Baptist's message, Jacob's message, David's message, Solomon's message, Job's message, Moses' message, Abraham's message, and Jesus' message. Why were they all the same? Because this is God's Message.
We are not these physical bodies. As such, material things will not satisfy us. Jesus described this:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)But aren't these sectarian ecclesiastical teachers okay as long as they quote scripture?
Once those that have partially heard from one of God's real messengers, yet have desires for power and prestige, they will organize political “religious” organizations based on their own interpretations (unsupported by previous representatives of God) of those teachings or scripture. They use those teachings to create their power structure.
For example, some sects have been started based upon a prediction of the date of the end of the world. In the case of the Church of Later Day Saints, even though Joseph Smith's end of the world prediction (1890) didn't come true, the religious organization continued long after the date the world was supposed to have ended.
Rouge interpretations to slightly change the meaning or emphasis of scripture to accommodate desires for attention or power has been taking place throughout modern history. In other words, they will take some of the teachings out of context, often using them to either make people afraid or give them reason to hope in order to keep people in the camp - within their institution.
This is precisely how most churches were formed over the centuries, and exactly what Constantine did to form and control the Christian religion during the fourth century, which led to the Councils of Nicene. The goal of the councils was specific: To organize Christianity under Constantine’s authority so that he could control them for political purposes.
Out of the first Nicene council came specific interpretations called the Nicene Creed. These became the official tenets of this sectarian institution of the church, and anyone not abiding by or teaching those teachings was killed or thrown into prison. They also selected and manipulated the gospels and assembled the Bible while destroying or hiding other manuscripts. They burned and pillaged many libraries, destroying so many scriptures in the name of organizing or unifying the church: for political purposes, in other words.
As a result, the teachings of most of today's organized sects, including Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Assyrian, Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran and Protestant teachings, are all based on this politically-established Nicene Creed - determined by a council of men under political pressure exerted by Constantine.
Jesus showed us by example how these types of organizations were not to be followed. He made clear in his teachings that the Jewish organizations of those days, run by Pharisees and Sadducees, were political and ecclesiastical, and riled against them many times.
Jesus was criticizing the functionality and structure of the same kind of politically-derived ‘religious’ organizations that we now see today who teach in the name of Jesus.
The sectarian churches of today aren’t the only politically-driven sectarian institutions. Nearly all the faiths have developed politically-driven organizations. Many of these institutions, in fact, now rule or exert control over their government in some countries. They are so politically active that they actively control the population and seek to suppress religious freedom rather than support it.
This brings to question whether forcing someone to worship God has any merit. Now consider, if God wanted to force us to worship Him, He could certainly do it, because He is, after all, God.
The only way a person can love and worship God is if they can choose to do so. Love necessitates freedom. God gave us the freedom to worship Him or not within the physical world. Those who try to take away that freedom do not have faith that God is ultimately in control.
The reason why these Pharisees are testing Jesus is because they were trying to remove Jesus' authority. They were trying to discredit Jesus. Because Jesus’ teachings of love for God and doing the will of God threatened their organizational control over the people, they sought to damage his reputation by finding conflicts between his teachings and those of the prophets.
Unfortunately, they didn't realize that Jesus' authority didn't come from Jesus - it came directly from God:
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)