I believe that the word 'religion' is a very deceptive word. Very misunderstood.
Religion is mentioned only seven times in the Bible. Only one time out of the seven does God present religion in a positive way. The Bible says in James 1:27, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." It's clear what that refers to. The same when we sing about that 'Old Time Religion'. But that is not what we are talking about.
The other six times that the Bible mentions religion, God is warning us against it! Don't let this confuse you. Religion is what Adam and Eve did when they sinned and realized that they were naked. They tried to cover themselves with leaves. Religion is what Cain did when he came to offer to God the veggies out of his garden. Religion is those people in Genesis 11 building a tower to try to reach God.
Religion is the Pharisee from Luke 18. "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess'."
Religion is trying to reach and please God your way instead of God's way. Religion was Adam and Eve trying to cover their own sin. It didn't work. But God gave them a coat made by the slaying of an animal. The shedding of blood. God's way. Because it all pointed to Jesus and His finished work on the cross.
You know, God sometimes gives me illustrations because I taught little kids for so long and I needed to tell a story to help them understand God's truths. Let's pretend that reaching God and heaven was a sport. And everyone was invited to participate.
The goal was to jump to the moon. Everyone got excited and began to practice their jumping skills. Someone invited his neighbors over to practice at his house. They all practiced jumping out beside the shed. They began to mark the highest jumps on that shed with a pencil, so they'd know the best jumps yet and the mark to beat.
Soon shed jumping became the way to train all over town, and the highest jumps were recorded in the newspaper for all to see. How they were filled with pride at their great accomplishments! Records were broken weekly. Some jumpers were always working to get better than their neighbor. A few got so good at jumping that they almost reached the top of the shed!
But they lost sight of what the goal was. They were supposed to jump to the moon. An impossible task. But they forgot. It became about who could jump the highest next to a shed. They all came a bazillion miles short of the goal. To jump to the moon. And no one reached the moon. Ever. Of course.
Reaching God through religion is just like shed jumping. Some might live better lives than others. Some might go to church. Some might write a check for everything they have and give it to the poor. Some might confess their sins to a priest. Some might choose their words more carefully than others, being careful to be politically correct. Some might be faithful, proud baptists. But it's all just shed jumping.
Let me tell you the truth. Religion can not save you. Trying your best to reach and please God does not work. We are all sinners. We all fall short. WAY short. You'll die and go to hell unless you've been born again by faith and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. That's more direct than I usually speak, but it's so important! There are people who lived very good lives in hell as I write this. And there are dirty, rotten scoundrels, who've sinned in ways that my imagination cannot even fathom, who are enjoying the streets of gold right now. It's all what you do with God's way. His forgiveness. His plan.
Let me tell you about the second man from Luke 18. You'll find it in verses 13 and 14. "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." He came God's way.
More people will be in hell because they were religious than for any other single reason. Their way. Shed jumping. Religion and Christ are in opposition to each other. Religion says we must do something to get to heaven, join something to get to heaven, have something done to us to get to heaven. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Religion is us trying to cover ourselves and our sin without a blood sacrifice. Without the precious blood of the Lamb of God. Without what we celebrate at Easter.
If there has never been a time in your life when you trusted Christ like that, do it today! There is a blog post pinned to the bottom of the home page of this site that will help you. It's entitled 'Redeemed'. Please feel free to message me through the contact page if you need help. :)
A Fist Full of Daffodils
March 22, 2016
Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lived the sweetest grandma that ever walked upon the earth. She was tall with long, slender arms and legs, an...
First Things First
January 22, 2016
We have no foundation on which to build unless we see a few of God's truths clearly. Nothing in life makes sense. Nothing else works. Just God's wa...
One Hundred Posts!
July 25, 2016
Today is a big milestone for me. I am writing my one hundredth blog post. The very thought takes my breath away. I am humbled and amazed. ...