I encourage you NOT to confuse religion with salvation
While religion may give you the sensation of doing the right thing for God, it is in fact empty of any valve to God! It’s true that the good works of religion may puff up our spiritual ego and sense of self-righteousness, but those very works will abandon us at the grave as dead enemies of God, with rejection from heaven being certain.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus was possibly the highest ranking religious leader in Israel, yet he was spiritually dead, without God, and without the certain hope of eternal life. Nicodemus needed to change his thinking! Salvation, eternal life, could not be earned! Rather, it’s a one-time spiritual work of regeneration, rebirth, done totally by the Holy Spirit of God within a repentant sinner.
The apostle John records the deceitfulness of man focused religion; “Many even of the authorities believed in him (Jesus), but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:42-43). Even today, many love the feelings of appearing religious, more than they love Christ as Lord – this is FRAUD FAITH.
Referring to man-made acts of religious duty, the apostle Paul points out that; “these have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh [sin]” (Colossians 2:23). Religious attendance is powerless against all types of sin, and indeed is not concerned when its followers live a life of double standards and hypocrisy. The fact is, religion cannot motivate us to hate sin, but will accommodate it, happily incorporating our sins into its acceptable yet incorrect religious beliefs.
In Romans 3:21-25, the apostle Paul explains that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and that God’s righteousness is acquired “through faith in Jesus Christ.” You see, sinners are “justified by his grace as a gift.” Forgiveness cannot be religiously earned or purchased by sinful people. So, “God put forward” His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross as the sinless sacrifice. He died in our place, carrying our sin, receiving God’s wrath instead of us.
God, having emptied His wrath against our sin on His Son, is now at peace, appeased by the blood sacrifice of His Son on the cross. However, the benefit of eternal forgiveness for all mortal sins which is available through Christ’s death, must personally “be received by faith” as applying to each of us as individuals. This excludes all dependency upon family traditions, church denominations, church leaders, and personal works in attempt to earn God’s favour. This means acknowledging that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), no other mediator exists.
Here’s a simple two-fold test of authenticity that religion won’t want you to answer, yet it will allow you to be honest with yourself.
- Do you look at yourself and “consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
- Is your consuming desire in life to obey Jesus as Lord? “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him”(1 John 2:4).
I encourage you NOT to confuse religion with salvation.