I Hope You Are Not Religious
I am a believer. I have accepted Jesus Christ. I believe God raised him from the dead. I believe that the Scriptures, as originally written, are the inerrant Word of God. But if anyone were to call me “religious,” I would take it either as a misinformed statement or as an insult. “Religion” (Greek: threskeia) is usually used in God’s Word in a less than positive way. This is how E. W. Bullinger defines threskeia in his “A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament:”
“religious observance, the outward ceremonial service of religion, the external form (as opposed to eusebeia, practical piety rightly directed….)”
Jesus repeatedly confronted the Pharisees regarding their religious practices, some of which were contrary to God’s written Word. Others were harmless except that the Pharisees ascribed authority to them equivalent to or above the authority of the Scriptures.
The outward form of one’s religious practice might not necessarily be ungodly, but if one is known by it rather than being known for the goodness and faith that is in his heart, then there is something missing. In Biblical terminology, if one is asserted to be threskos, religious, he is one who holds to an outward form, but likely lacks a real true vital spiritual relationship with the Father. Otherwise, he would have been identified by some other term: believer, faithful, saint, brother, etc. The outward form is, of course, indicative of a belief system, but not necessarily one consistent with the Truth.
I have made a little list of differences between Truth and pseudo Christian-like religion. The list is in no particular order and is far from complete. Perhaps you can offer other entries, but here is my list:
Truth: The Scriptures ARE the Word of God.
Religion: The Bible CONTAINS the Word of God.
Truth: Rejoices in God’s goodness and longs for the future hope.
Religion: Focuses on evil (everyone’s wrongdoings) and longs for the past (the power of the Old Testament prophets, etc)
Truth: Seeks to love.
Religion: Seeks to coerce.
Truth: Teaches righteousness.
Religion: Assigns blame.
Truth: Delivers people from guilt.
Religion: Delivers guilt to people.
Truth: Delivers people from fear.
Religion: Delivers fear to people.
Truth: Shows the new man.
Religion: Seeks to improve the old man.
Truth: The purpose of the earth is for man.
Religion: The purpose of man is for the earth.
Truth: Speaks truth.
Truth: Requires faith in God.
Religion: Requires faith in men.
Truth: Accepts God’s gifts.
Religion: Endeavors to earn God’s gifts.
Truth: Recognizes the work of Jesus Christ to make men righteous before God.
Religion: Promotes doing your own works to make you righteous before God.
By the way, if this is your first time on our site, you might want to check out our home page to see where we are coming from and then go to the posted articles on the GIFT of righteousness. Just a suggestion, but for some of you it could be life changing.