Lie #1: ‘If you live a moral life, deny yourself pleasure, follow the prescribed rituals and give us enough money, you’ll have a decent shot at being accepted by God.’

Remember that scene near the end of the Wizard of Oz, when Toto is pulling back the curtain?  The sound system is bellowing, ‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.  THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ HAS SPOKEN!’ And There’s a little man behind the controls, talking into a microphone.

Kind of reminds you of certain religious institutions, doesn’t it? Short little insecure men, hiding behind names and titles, sending everyone on Mission Impossible while they themselves indulge in secret sin. The preacher stands in front of thousands and shakes his finger. Nobody else knows that he had a stripper in his hotel room last night. Somebody tells you, ‘Here, follow all these rules and be the best person you possibly can, and you might have a shot at being accepted by God someday.’ Then they string you along and get you under their thumb.

No wonder people are cynical.

Well it’s no accident that Jesus’ own biggest enemies 2000 years ago were precisely those same self-righteous hypocrites. When Jesus showed up, they were terrified of losing their cushy jobs and political clout. Eventually they murdered him for exposing their racket.

True spirituality had been buried in a big pile of bureaucracy, and the religious establishment used it to gain leverage. To have power over people, to get priority seating in expensive restaurants, and to line their pockets with cash.

They had everyone thinking that pleasing God was a never-ending performance marathon.

Well Jesus painted a totally different picture. He told this story:

‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a holy man and the other a tax collector.

The holy man stood and prayed, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this lousy tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’

But the tax collector, standing far away, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’

Jesus explains: ‘I tell you, this tax collector went home forgiven, rather than the holy man; for every one who praises himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be praised.’

Beware of the proud holy man who hangs a bunch of rules around your neck.

That humble tax collector had it right. He was doing the only thing you and I can do to be accepted by God. He just asked, with humility.

Tomorrow I’m going to attack Lie #2:

‘God is huge and unapproachable, and He wants you to labor, struggle and live in guilt.’

Thanks for reading!

Respectfully Submitted,

Perry Marshall

The whole story about the Tax Collector is in Luke 18:9-14:

Listen to the Live “Uncut” version of 7 Great Lies:

79 Responses to “Lie #1: ‘If you live a moral life, deny yourself pleasure, follow the prescribed rituals and give us enough money, you’ll have a decent shot at being accepted by God.’”

  1. qkey says:

    i think God is My religion Moslem
    Allah does not even see you bad or good
    rich or or ugly…
    if u’re just realize your false,and ask for Allah’s mercy
    then Allah will give apologize

    • Sooshrut Thakur says:

      qkey you said that Allah does not even see you bad or good . Well this makes sense because no man is born evil the world makes him so . So it is not actually his mistake of being born in this world.

  2. John 7: 53- 8:11 Jesus did not ask the pharisees and the Scribes where they had left the man who was caught together with this woman. Was our Lord Jesus Christ not supposed to fight for women’s rights.

    • alexk says:

      He did fight for her rights. He did not ask for the man who was caught, Jesus asked who among the men who accused her was himself without sin. He did this because punishment was not his goal. He didn’t come “into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” This encounter made every one involved examine the heart of the law instead of the letter of the law. It changed how everyone involved experienced the living God. The passage also said she was caught in adultery, she wasn’t a prostitute, so one could assume that she would tell the man everything that Jesus had done. The man involved wasn’t left out.

    • Brian Golz says:

      If you ever read any of Luke, you may notice that many parts advocate women, or at least show no bias against them.

  3. Roge Sison says:

    I’m impress with your cleverness.

    The only one thing you overlooked upon is that the fact that you are teaching Christianity. Christianity is an organized religion that you are talking about. And to all of these that you are discussing about, you can see yourself caught in the act of lies you are telling.

    If you are not a Christian, it is proper to say such things. But I guess you are.

    Perhaps I could suggest one thing. Change your Title into more specific form.

  4. Ahmad Badawi says:

    The world is flat

  5. Jerriel Isidro says:

    1. Do you believe Jesus is the Light, the Path and the Truth? If No you may not answer the next questions.

    2. If Jesus made a Church, would you be willing to be part of it?

    3. But if you heard that the Church who Jesus built is full of sinners including the shepherds, would you still be willing to be part of the Church who Jesus built?

    4. If the four Gospels are historical facts, is it right to make free interpretations from them? If Yes you may not proceed to the next question.

    5. It is in the Gospel that Jesus built a Church upon Peter, would another church be valid even if it used the same scriptures?

    6. Would the Holy Spirit come to an individual reading the bible and enlighten him that he will gather people and make a church other than the Church made by Jesus?

    7. If you believe Jesus is God, would His Church not continue for more than 2000 years?

    8. Would the Protestant’s claim be true that the Church who Jesus built had stop some time because Jesus had left it, and during the printing of the bible Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to enlighten them during their bible studies so that they may gather people and make churches and claim each other as christians? If so their is only one Holy Spirit, why are the Protestant churches contradict with each other?

    9. Does any protestant deny that the Roman Catholic Church is much older than their church?

    10. Do you deny that the Roman Catholic Church has the history straight from St. Peter upto the present Pope Benedict XVI?

    11. If your answers in questions 2 and 3 are yes, and you don’t deny the Catholic Church is the only one with more than 2000 years of history, are you willing to be part of it?

    12. Which one would be in [the church of your choice] or [the Church who Jesus chose]?

  6. Niaudraf says:

    If u all try discovery about the age of the bible and the quran at the age before and the after, i wonder what the change have the human create. If this 2 holy book have been change by the human own hand, why i or you all follow the lied that human create? Bible age from 2000~2300 year and the Qur’an aroud 1400~1600, where the original script from the prophet? prove this to me. The question is, where the original script of the bible or Qur’an? The biggest lie by human mankind can be prove here.

  7. GyanP says:

    Christianity is the most organized religion of them all. This Blog is a living proof of that!

    • Sooshrut Thakur says:

      RELIGION it self is nothing it exists from people and for people . GyanP you said that Christianity is the most organised then why were protestants created ? It is true that christians are most organised but it is also due to fact that they are richer and have better education and are free to question unlikely in ISLAM practised in middle east country .

  8. Azhar Chaudhary says:

    Hi Perry,

    Hope you are well. Very good reading your emails and very thought provoking.

    Some questions:

    1) You established very nicely that the creator or intelligent agent responsible for codes in DNA etc not subject to the same laws of physics etc as mortals or life as we know it. After those email feeds, you seem to abruptly change direction to promoting Jesus in your following emails. I missed the smooth transition. Is there any material between and

    2) Similar to above, after establishing existence of a creator and differences in fabric between creator and created, why do you blur the distinction by refering to Son of God or something in between mortals and God? As far as I can see Jesus (may God be pleased with him) was not even able to create himself i.e. he was created. Had he been God or Son of God, he would have have had the characteristics of the creator if the universe i.e. would be able to create life. All miracle Jesus performed were withthe help of God.

    3) What will happen to likes of Hitler, the Conquistadors, Mao etc who are responsible of the effective genocide of millions of people. Will they be forgiven? If not, where will they go? If so, where will/did they go when they die/died?


    Azhar Chaudhary

    • perrymarshall says:

      1) See and

      2) The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus was born but not created:

      1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
      3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it.
      14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[d] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

      Isaiah 9:6: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

      I understand this is very different from the Islamic understanding of Jesus. The Koran denies that Jesus is God but the New Testament authors are emphatic that Jesus is both God and man. The Koran denies that Jesus rose from the dead but the New Testament authors are emphatic that he did.

      3) If Hitler, Mau etc left this earth without asking God for forgiveness, then they have no choice but to pay the penalty for their sin. On the other hand they are just as eligible to be forgiven as anyone else.

  9. From the way I look at christianity, morality, deprivation from pleasure,practicing ritual and giving money though necessary for the work of God will never take one to heaven. If morality could save, the rich man in the Book of Mark, and Luke would never have found himself in hell crying for a drop of water. If The Lord is put out of your happy gathering,it leads to sin. No one could beat the pharisees in ritual performance, yet The Lord Jesus Christ called the white washed tombs. Nothing can buy God, not even our good works. Failing to accept His grace and repent will only lead to perdition. If man could do something for his salvation Jesus would not have come. Gabriel.

  10. Pete Hodge says:

    There is a major problem with the atetaqment at the top of this article. That is this:

    Lie #1: ‘If you live a moral life, deny yourself pleasure, follow the prescribed rituals and give us enough money, you’ll have a decent shot at being accepted by God.’

    Yes, there are those who would claim to be ‘Christian’ who might say something like this. But the problem is, critics of Christianity nearly always go by what ‘men’ say. What is normally considered to be organised religion are denominations founded not upon a biblical foundation, but on the desires and misinterpretations of self righteous men and women.

    Christianity is not a series of rituals, nor is it something that denies pleasure. Yes, there are some religious groups who give that impression, but they should not be taken as representing Christianity. Biblically based Christians would never suggest that to be accepted by God one has to give money to have a ‘shot at being accepted by God.’

    Acceptance by God is on the basis of faith in Him, and that is not ‘blind faith,’ but the acceptance of the truth of God and Christ through study and examination of the Bible and historical record.

    It is fascinating how critics only look at what they want to see. No matter how often we stress the truth about Christianity, and the rejection of the denominations that present a false picture of our faith, they will still come out with the same clap trap arguments against Christianity.

    What are they afraid off? Well, I suppose if people dent something long enough and loud enough, they will eventually manage to deafen themselves to the message. The problem is, no matter how much they disbelieve, how mush they rage against it, at the end of the day one of us will be right and one wrong. The critic hopes he is right, then he has nothing to fear. The Christian has nothing to worry about, because if we are wrong, we have nothing to fear either. But if, as we believe, we are right, we have everything to gain. The critic has everything to lose.

    Maybe I will answer the other “lies” later. So folks, just for once, remove the blinkers, open your minds to the possibility you might not be as correct as you hope you are.

  11. Perry Marshall, a quick unrelated question: Do you know where I can learn P.J. Eby’s motivational techniques from a Christian perspective?

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