I am writing this article with a very heavy heart and after crying many tears. I have personally experienced and witnessed the pain, heartache, devastation, depression and despair that are caused by false Christianity.
A couple of years ago, I started seeking God with many tears. By His grace, God started opening my eyes to see the differences between false Christianity and His precious Gospel. I have found these differences portrayed clearly by many verses and passages in the Bible. I have been writing these differences down over some time.
In recent years, I encountered many different religious groups, the majority of which were Christian. I was deeply saddened as I observed the characteristics of false religion in many of these groups.
I have often cried out to God for the many sincere people who are caught up in false religion. I am writing this article with this prayer, “Oh Lord, please soften the hearts of those who have become hardened and calloused by religion. Please use these truths from your Word, to open the eyes of those who have been deceived and enslaved by false religion and set them free by your grace.”
The most obvious form of false Christianity is the believe that Christians can live as they like and do what they want, if they have verbally “accepted” Jesus as their Saviour. The Lord Jesus, however, is and must be both Saviour and Lord of our lives.
The message of the Gospel is clear:
“…He (Jesus Christ) died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised… …Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come… …For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:15, 17 & 21
(Please also see John 3:3, Galatians 5:13-20, Ephesians 4:17-5:7, 2 Timothy 2:19, Hebrews 12:14)
There is, however, a much subtler type of false Christianity, which is so often mistaken for the real thing. Externally it looks very attractive. It, however, has devastating consequences. It causes so much unnecessary suffering and heartache. Tragically, this type of false religion deceives many sincere people. (Matthew 24:5, 11&24)
The differences between this type of false religion and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ are described below:
1) Religion is man’s feeble attempt to reach God. The gospel is about God in His mercy reaching out to man, bearing the punishment for man’s sin and reconciling man to God. (Genesis 11:3-4 Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 53:1-12, Isaiah 59, John 3:13-16, Romans 3:23-25, 2 Corinthian 5:18-21 & Ephesians 1&2, 2 Timothy 1:9)
2) Religion teaches people that they have to become acceptable to God by their own efforts and works. The Gospel states that the only way to become acceptable to God is through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross which we receive by faith. Believers are adopted as sons of God through Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:21-25, Romans 9:30-33 2 Corinthians 5:21, John 3:14-16 & Colossians 1:22, Ephesians 1:3-6)
3) Religion teaches that God’s love is conditional. It teaches that you have to live a perfect live and perform in order to merit God’s love. This results in the self-righteous thinking that they are the only ones loved by God. It also results in most other people feeling unloved by God. The Gospel is the good news of God’s unconditional love. God simply loves because He is love. He loved us while we were still His enemies. He loves us even though we do not deserve it. (Matthew 5:43-45, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Ephesians 4:1-5, 1 John 4:7-10)
4) Religion puts people’s focus on themselves and teaches people to reform themselves. The Gospel puts our focus on Christ. It teaches us that it is God who saves us and sanctifies us by His grace as we repent, believe in Him and live in obedience to His Holy Spirit. God works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. (Romans 1:17 & 6:23, Romans 8:2-4, Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:1-10, Philippians 1:6, Philippians 2:13, John 3:3-16, John 7:37, John 11:25, Titus 2:11 & I Thessalonians 5:23, Hebrews 12:2)
5) In religion people are forced to keep many rules and regulations. The Gospel teaches that, because Christ loved us and died for us on the cross, we love Him and have the desire to please and obey Him. (Romans 12:1, 1 John 4:19, John 14:15, 1 Corinthians 16:14 & 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 & Colossians 2:20-23)
6) Religion focuses on the external and on what is seen by man. The Gospel focuses on the heart and on what is seen by God. (Matthew 23:25-26, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ezekiel 36:26, Hebrews 8:10 & 2 Peter 3:3)
7) Religion is largely focused on tangible things, e.g. works, clothing, ceremonies, highly esteemed leaders, etc. The Gospel is largely focused on the unseen, e.g. the promises of God, faith, love, the eternal, etc. (Matthew 23:5-7, Romans 8:24-25, 2 Corinthians 4:18 & 2 Corinthians 5:7)
8) Religion emphasizes that which is not important, for example human traditions and precise dress codes, but neglects that which is of utmost importance, i.e. Love, faith, mercy and justice. Religion results in people’s consciences condemning things that are not sinful, while condoning that which is an abomination to God. To Christ, loving and showing mercy to people is imperative, whereas, keeping the traditions and rules of men is not. (Luke 6:1-11, Matthew 23:23, Luke 15:1-31, Colossians 2:16-23, 1 Corinthians 13 & Isaiah 5:20)
9) Religion lays heavy burdens on people. The Lord Jesus removes people’s burdens and helps them carry His yoke, which is easy to bear. (Matthew 23:4, Matthew 11:28-30 & Psalm 55:22)
10) Religion causes one to continuously labour and strive in the flesh. The Gospel gives us rest in Christ. (Matthew 11:28-29, Luke 10:38-42, Galatians 2:20 & Hebrews 4:9-11)
11) Religion is about doing works by our own efforts. (Matthew 7:22-23, Galatians 5:19-21) The Gospel is about bearing fruit by abiding in Christ. (John 15, Galatians 2:20 & 5:22)
12) Religion causes one to strive to please the fellow religious and especially the religious leaders. Religion results in the fear of man. The Gospel causes us to love and fear God. It gives us a desire to please Him, no matter what people think. The Gospel sets free from the fear of man. (John 7:13, John 9:22, Romans 2:29, Galatians 1:10 & Colossians 3:23-24)
13) Religion strives for unity through conformity and hence has no room for freedom of conscience. The Gospel brings about true unity in Christ, despite differences in convictions on secondary matters. The Gospel allows freedom of conscience. (Romans 14 &15)
14) Religion causes people to exalt themselves and to seek the honour of man. The Gospel results in believers humbling themselves, becoming the least and desiring to honour God. (Matthew 18:1-4, Matthew 23:5-12 & John 13:14)
15) The religious think they are better and more holy than others. They look down on others. The Gospel states that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It teaches that we are what we are by the grace of God alone. (Romans 3, Matthew 5, Luke 18:10-14 & 1 Corinthians 15:10)
16) Religion causes the religious to condemn others, not perceiving their own sinful state. The Gospel causes believers to love the unsaved, to pray for them and to give their lives to draw them to Christ. (Matthew 5:44, Luke 15, Luke 18:10-12, Romans 2:1-3, Romans 9:3 & Romans 10:1)
17) The religious do not associate with people considered sinful. True children of God love sinners and reach out to them in love. (Luke 5:27-31 & Luke 15)
18) Religious groups usually consider some members more special and more holy than others. The Gospel declares that all believers are saints (holy) in God’s sight. They are all children of God and co-heirs with Christ. All believers are important members of Christ’s body and all have been given special gifts. God also loves unbelievers dearly and desires that they should all come to salvation. (Romans 8:14-17, John 1:12-13, Galatians 6:3-5, 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, Colossians 1:22, John 3:16 & 2 Peter 3:9)
19) In religion you often find that some people are treated better than others. Some are honoured and others are looked down upon. The Gospel teaches us that God does not show partiality. It teaches believers to honour one another and to treat one another without partiality. The Lord Jesus said that what we have done to the least in our eyes, we have done to Him. Ironically, the despised ones are often the ones who are richer in faith. (Matthew 18:3-6, Mathew 23:6-12, Matthew 25:45, Mark 9:35-37, Acts 10:34-35, Romans 12:10, Colossians 3:11 & James 2:1-13)
20) The religious are convinced that they can see what is in someone’s heart by looking at their external appearance. They accept or reject people on that basis. The Bible teaches that we should not judge people by their external appearance, which is very deceiving. We should also wait for God who will, at the end of the world, separate His children from those who do iniquity. (Matthew 7:1&2, Romans 2:16, 1 Samuel 16:7, Matthew 13:24-30&37-43 & Psalm 139)
21) Religion often results in discrimination against, and the harsh treatment of women. The Gospel states that women are fellow heirs of the grace of God and should be treated with respect. Woman should submit to their husbands and their husbands should love them as themselves. (Galatians 3:28, 1 Peter 3:7 & Ephesians 5:22-33)
22) In religion woman are often severely punished for committing adultery while the men, who committed adultery with them, get away with it easily. God’s law in the old testament stated that men and woman should be equally punished for committing adultery. The Lord Jesus said that men who have looked at women lustfully have already committed adultery in their hearts. Through the Gospel both adulterers and adulteresses can receive forgiveness. (Leviticus 20:10, John 8:1-11, Matthew 26:28, Colossians 1:14).
23) The religious almost always follow and adore a human leader. The Gospel is about following and adoring Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13, Matthew 10:38, 16:24, Mark 1:17, Luke 9:23, John 10:27)
24) Religion attempts to exalts and give glory to the religious leaders. The Gospel exalts Christ (God) and states that all glory and honour belong to Him alone. (Isaiah 48:11, Matthew 23:8-12, Revelations 4:9-1 & Revelations 5:12)
25) Religious people believe that only their leaders can hear from God, and that common people must receive “God’s message” from the leaders. Through the Gospel, all believers live in fellowship with God and hear Him speaking to them personally through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. (John 10:14 & Romans 8:14)
26) Religious Groups often believe that only the leader’s prayers can be heard by God and hence the leaders must pray to God on people’s behalf. The Gospel declares that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only mediator between people and God. All believers can approach the throne of grace with boldness through Him. All believers should also bear one another’s burdens and pray for one another. (1Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 4:14-16, Romans 8:26, 27 & 34, Galatians 6:2 & James 5:13-18)
27) Religious leaders often use religion for their own benefit to gain fame, honour, riches and control over people. They even devour widow’s houses. True shepherds of the flock deny themselves for God’s people and will often suffer loss for the sake of the Gospel and others. They serve the flock in love. (Mark 12:38-40, Matthew 20:25-27 & John 10:10-15)
28) Religious leaders often force people to follow and obey them. True shepherds desire that people should live in a personal relationship with Christ and follow Him. They also desire that believers should be led by God’s Spirit and obey Him. Even though we should respect and obey our leaders, we should obey God rather than man. (Ephesians 3:14-21, Galatians 4:19, Hebrews 13:17 & Acts 4:18-19)
29) Religion normally uses fear, intimidation and force to keep people in its hold. The Gospel keeps people through God’s love and faithfulness. (John 9:22, John 12:42, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 3:6, 1 John 4:11-19 & Jude 1:24)
30) Religious leaders often treat people with harshness and abuse them. True shepherds of the flock treat people with meekness and love. (Ezekiel 37, 1 Peter 5:1-3, Matthew 20:25-28, Galatians 6:1-2 & Romans 15:1-3)
31) Religion uses lies and deception to further its cause. The Bible clearly states that those who use deceit or tell lies will be outside the kingdom of heaven. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. The Lord Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (Luke 12:1-3, John 8:44, John 14:6, Psalm 24:3-4, 1 John 1:5-6, Revelations 14:5, Revelations 21:8 & 22:15)
32) The deception of religion brings people into bondage. The truth of the gospel sets people free. (John 8:32, Galatians 5:1&13 & 1 Peter 2:16)
33) Religious leaders often get false witnesses to slander true believers. The Bible clearly states that one should not bear false witness. (Matthew 26:60, Mark 14:56, Acts 6:13 & Exodus 20:16)
34) Religion teaches that the end justifies the means. The religious will go as far as even bribing and murdering for what they believe to be “God’s” cause. (Mathew 28:12-13, John 16:2). The Bible teaches that we will all be judged according to our deeds. The Lord Jesus said not only will murderers be judged by God, but even those who get angry with their brother or call their brother a fool. (Matthew 5:21-22, Matthew 12:36, 2 Corinthians 5:10 & Revelations 20:13)
35) Religious groups acquit those who are guilty of gross sin based on their loyalty to the group. Group members who are not loyal to the group, are falsely accused and mistreated for their lack of loyalty to the group. The Bible, however, declares woe to those who acquit the guilty and deprive the innocent of his right. Through the Gospel even the guilty can receive forgiveness. (1 Kings 21, Isaiah 5:20 -23, Ephesians 1:7)
36) The Bible teaches us that false religious leaders or prophets put on a show of righteousness (sheep’s clothing), but inside they are ravenous wolves. The Bible also teaches that we should look past their appearances and look at their fruit to discern their true character. Tragically, many people are deceived by false prophets. (Matthew 7:15-20 & Luke 12:1, Galatians 5:19-22)
37) The members of religious groups often think their leaders are perfect and that they make no mistakes. The Lord Jesus said that there is no one good except God. The Bible declares that we all stumble in many ways. It also tells us that, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. In other words, all people are imperfect and fallible. (Matthew 19:17, Romans 3:9-25, James 3:2 & 1 John 1:8)
38) False religious teachers or prophets are often trusted to such an extent, that their words are thought to carry more weight than God’s Word. The Bible teaches us that God’s Word is the ultimate authority. It also states that those who put their trust in man are cursed. (John 12:28, Revelations 22:19, 2 Timothy 3:6, Proverbs 30:6 & Jeremiah 17:5-10)
39) The insignificant members of religious groups are often disciplined for breaking the most menial rule or tradition of the group. The Lord Jesus reprimanded religious leaders for enforcing the traditions of men and neglecting the commandments of God. (Luke 6:1-11 & Mark 7:1-23)
40) Those in high positions in religious groups often get away with serious offences, sometimes even murder. The Bible teaches us that the Lord Jesus Christ one day will judge everyone according to what they have done. Leaders and teachers will be judged more severely than other people. (Mathew 26:4, Luke 6:11, 1 Corinthians 5:10, Colossians 3:25, 1 Timothy 3:1-13 & James 3:1-1)
41) Religion is merciless. In religion, the one who contravenes religion must be beaten, expelled, shunned, ostracized or even killed without mercy. Sadly, people who choose to obey God rather than religion are also treated in that way by the religious. God is merciful and grants us mercy through the Gospel. Because Christ bore our punishment, we can receive mercy and forgiveness. The Bible teaches that because we received mercy, we should show mercy to others. (John 8:1-11, Matthew 5:7, Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-35, Colossians 3:13 & James 2:12-13)
42) The religious quickly stop forgiving. People who commit offences are quickly punished or expelled. Tears and pleas are to no avail. The Gospel is about God, through Christ, bearing our sins on the cross. Through Christ believers receive forgiveness every time they sin. The Lord Jesus said we should also forgive others every time that they sin against us. (Psalm 103:3,4,8-12, Isaiah 53, Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-22, Colossians 3:13)
43) The religious quickly discard people who are an embarrassment or inconvenience or who do not fit into their mould. The Gospel teaches us to be patient with all people just as God is patient with us. We should bear with the failings of the weak. (Romans 15:1, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Colossians 3:12-14)
44) The religious are cold-hearted. They do not care about people’s feelings nor do they have sympathy for people’s heartache and tears. They only care about the laws that they have made their duty to enforce. Sadly, many of these laws, that cause so much sorrow, are manmade. God, on the other hand, has compassion. He has empathy with every tear that people cry. The Lord Jesus was moved by people’s sorrow to such an extent that He wept. The Bible teaches us to weep with those who weep. (Luke 6:1-11, Luke 7:13, John 8:1-11, Psalm 56:8, Isaiah 53:3-4, John 11:33-35, Romans 12:15 & 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
45) Religion causes severe emotional pain and many tears without offering any comfort. Sometimes the religious even enjoy making people cry. Sadly, these tears often cause grudges and resentment against the religious afflicters and even against God. The Gospel brings about godly sorrow and tears of true repentance. The Gospel grants us forgiveness for our wrongs and gives us comfort. The Gospel also helps us to forgive those who hurt us. The Lord Jesus will ultimately wipe away all tears from believers’ eyes. (Mathew 5:4&44, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Revelation 21:4)
46) Religion wounds and afflicts people and breaks people down. The Lord Jesus did not even break a bruised reed. The Gospel brings healing to the wounded and comfort to the afflicted. God uses our suffering and affliction to bring us closer to Him and to transform us into the image of Christ. (Matthew 12-15-21, 2 Corinthians 1:3&4, Romans 8:28-29)
47) Religion requires parents to teach their children to keep all the rules of the religious group. These rules then usually become burdens, which are too heavy for the children to bear. Parents usually force their children to behave in a way that is pleasing to the religious group’s members, who are very difficult to please. Consequently, the parents become very hard on their children, and treat them in a harsh and unloving manner. As a result, children feel unloved and experience rejection from their own parents. For this reason, many children become discouraged and rebel against their parents. Tragically, some eventually even rebel against and turn away from God. The Gospel, in contrast, results in parents loving their children unconditionally. Parents who have been transformed by the Gospel, are not affected by what the religious thinks of their children. These parents desire to please God, and not man, in the way they raise, train and treat their children. (Malachi 4,4-6, Mathew 18:5-6, 10-14, Luke 1:17, Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
48) Religion is often based on verses that are taken out of context, misinterpreted, added to or over-emphasized. Religion is sometimes also based on dreams or so-called revelations received. (Luke 4:9-13, 1 Timothy 1:1-11, Proverbs 30:6 & Revelations 22:19). The Gospel is God’s truth revealed throughout the Bible. The essence of the Gospel is the crucified and risen Christ. (Gen 3:15, Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 53, John 5:39,46, John 8:56, 1 Corinthians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 2:2, 2 Timothy 3:16 etc.)
49) Religion is often accompanied by deceiving signs and wonders. (Matthew 24:24). The wonder of the Gospel is that Christ raises those who are dead in sin to be alive in Christ. (Ephesians 2:1-5). The supreme sign of the Gospel is that Christ was raised from the dead. (Matthew 12:39-40). The sign that the Gospel is being manifested in our lives is that we love one another. (John 13:35, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 1, John 3:11-24 & 1 John 4:12)
50) Tragically, religion makes people spiritually blind, and yet convinces them that they can see. (Matthew 23:16-17). The Gospel opens the eyes of the spiritually blind. Praise God, it can even open the eyes of those blinded by religion! (John 9:39-41& Acts 9:1-18)
51) The religious are very confident that they will enter heaven, their confidence being in their works. The children of God also have confidence, but their confidence is in the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. The Holy Spirit also bears witness within their hearts that they are children of God. (Matthew 7:21-23, Romans 8:18-17, 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, Philippians 3:8-9, Galatians 6:14)
52) The religious are convinced that they have God’s spirit. The Bible teaches us that not all spirits are from God. Hence, we should test the spirits. The Gospel teaches that all of God’s true children have His Holy Spirit. (1 John 4:1, Romans 8:9 &14-17, Galatians 4:6)
53) The religious are very zealous to make converts and will go to great lengths to do so. Sadly, the Lord Jesus said they make them twice as much children of hell as themselves. (Matthew 23:15). The Lord Jesus humbled himself unto death in order to seek and to save those who are lost. Those whom He saves become God’s children. (Luke 19:10, Philippians 2:6-8, Ephesians 1:3-14 &Titus 2:11-14)
54) Since the beginning of time people who trust in their works have been persecuting the people of faith. Kain, who had brought the works of his hands as an unacceptable sacrifice to God, slew his bother Abel who, by faith, had brought an animal as an acceptable sacrifice to God. We now know that the animal sacrifice pointed to Christ, who is the only acceptable sacrifice for man’s sin. When one forsakes religion and clings to the Gospel, persecution by the religious will almost certainly follow. (Genesis 4:3-8, 2 Timothy 3:12, Matthew 10:16-25, Acts 9:20&23, Hebrews 10 & Hebrews 11:4)
55) The religious strongly opposed and rejected our dear Lord and Saviour and nailed Him to the cross. (John 15:24-25). They also strongly opposed the believers and consequently, unknowingly persecuted the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. (Acts 9:1-5 & Philippians 3:9). The Gospel is about embracing the rejected and crucified Saviour. (John 1:11-13)
56) The religious persecute the children of God. Children of God love their persecutors. (Matthew 5:44, Matthew 10:17, 18, 21 & 22, Acts 5:40 & Acts 7:57-40)
57) Religion results in hypocrisy and lies. The Gospel brings about honesty and truth. (Matthew 23:16-22 & John 18:37)
58) Religion appears very good on the outside, but inside it is rotten to the core. The Gospel appears like foolishness to those that are perishing, but to those who are saved it is the power of God. (Matthew 23:25-28, Luke 12:1, 1 Corinthians 1:18)
59) Sadly, the image of piety portrayed by religious groups can be so severely misleading that even when attempts are made to expose the evil and atrocities committed in secret within the groups, very few people believe it. Jesus promised, however, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. What was spoken in the inner rooms will be shouted from the rooftops. (Luke 12:1-3 Matthew 10:26)
60) False religion is demonic and from hell. (Matthew 23:15, John 8:42-44, 1 Timothy 4:1, 1 John 4:1-3, 1 Corinthians 10:20) The Gospel is the gift of God unto salvation and imparts eternal life to those who believe. (Romans 1:16, Romans 6:23 & 1 Corinthians 1:18)
61) Religion enslaves people. The Gospel liberates people from the slavery of sin and makes them sons and daughters of God. (John 8:31-36, Galatians 4:1-7&31, Galatians 5:1)
62) False religion drives people away from God. The Gospel draws people to God. (Matthew 23:13 & John 12:32)
63) Religion deceives many. The mystery of the Gospel is grasped by only a few. (Matthew 7:13-14, Matthew 24:11 & Mark 13:6)
64) Religion results in a hypocritical holiness which is brought about by man. The Gospel results in true holiness which is brought about by God. The Gospel transforms us into the image of God’s son, Jesus Christ. (Mathew 23:27, Romans 8:29, Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 4:24, 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13).
65) Religion results in condemnation, fear and despair. The Gospel imparts hope, peace and joy to all believers. (John 14:27, Romans 8:1, Romans 8:33-34, Ephesians 1:2-14 & 1 Peter 3:3-9)
66) Religion leaves one thirsty. (Jeremiah 2:13) The Gospel satisfies one’s thirst with living water, which even overflows to others. (John 3:37-38, John 4:10-14)
67) Religion is like eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It makes people think that they know what is right and what is wrong, what to do and what not to do. Religion, however, imparts death to everyone who partakes of it. The Gospel is about partaking of Christ who is the bread of life. He imparts life to everyone who partakes of Him. (Genesis 3, John 6:35, Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Colossians 2:13&14, John 7:37 John 10:10, John 11:25 & John 17:3)
68) The Lord Jesus pronounced seven woes on the religious leaders and those who proclaimed false religion. (Matthew 23). The Bible declares that the feet of those who proclaim the good news of the Gospel are blessed. (Isaiah 52:7)
69) Paul forsook religion and counted it as dung for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. (Philippians 3:2-11).
70) Religious groups often have their own rules or revelations by which they measure truth. Tragically, the rules and standards, which they use to measure with, are false. These rules and standards are not based on God’s truth, but rather on the traditions of men or the doctrines of men or demons. Consequently, they falsely discern truth. We should pray for discernment and test everything by God’s Word. (Proverbs 16:11, Proverbs 20:23, Mark 7:1-13, Luke 6:1-11, John 9:16, Philippians 1:9-11, Hebrews 4:12-13 & Acts 17:11)
71) Those caught up in religious groups are usually severely influenced by group pressure. Even their thinking is distorted by the group’s way of thinking. They trust and rely too much on people in the group. (John 9:22 & John 12:42). The problem is also that, as soon as something within the group seems morally wrong to them, they by default speak to someone in the group about it. That person immediately puts them back in line with the group’s way of thinking. So, they never get free from the false teachings. The Gospel deals with people as individuals and each person will stand alone before the judgement seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10). The Lord Jesus said that His sheep hear his voice and follow Him. (John 10:27) Sheep following sheep can be disastrous. Sheep following wolves in sheep’s clothing is fatal.
72) One of the most tragic symptoms of false religion is that it makes one think one is rich and that one lacks nothing. One thinks God is in one’s midst, while, sadly, He is standing outside the door knocking. Those blinded by religion are so convinced that they are right, that they do not even want to consider the possibility of being wrong. When the Holy Spirit however works in a person’s life, it brings about a poverty of spirit. One realises the deceitfulness and depravity of one’s own heart and that in one’s flesh dwelleth no good thing. This brings about total dependence on God. The Bible commands us to examine and test ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. We should also test all doctrine by the Scriptures. (Matthew 5: 3-6, John 16:2, 2 Corinthians 12:5, Acts 17:11 & 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Revelations 3:4-22)
73) Pointing out to a religious group that its teachings or practices are not Biblical is normally considered a crime by the group. The Bible, however, instructs us to warn those who are being led astray. We should not take part in evil but should rather expose it. (Proverbs 24:12, Isaiah 5:20 & Ephesians 5:7-14)
74) Tragically, those caught up in religion, often close their ears to the truth of the Gospel and choose to harden their hearts against God’s Spirit. (Acts 7:51& 56)
75) Religion cannot fulfil the prayer of the Lord Jesus, “Father make them one even as we are one”, as religion brings about division. Every religious group has their unique set of rules which are important to them to keep. Every group also has a different leader whom they follow and adore. Hence, religion brings about disunity even between Christian groups. In the Gospel, however, we follow Christ. The Gospel is about faith working through love. As a result, the gospel brings about true unity, even between believers of different denominations. Hence, the Gospel fulfils the Lord’s Prayer for unity among believers, as true unity is in Christ alone. (John 17:21, Luke 6:1-11, 1 Corinthians 13:13, Galatians 5:14-15, Ephesians 1:15, 3:17, Colossians 1:4, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 3:6, 1 Timothy 1:5, 1:4, 2 Timothy 2:22)
Sadly, the Bible says that those who trust in their religiosity, and do not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus, will be outside of heaven. (Matthew 7:21-23 & John 17:3)
Heartrendingly, a believer or even a congregation can start in the Spirit with the true Gospel and yet, end up in the flesh with false religion without having noticed the transition. (Galatians 1:6-9, Galatians 3:1-5 & Hebrews 2:1-4)
We can so easily think that we are proclaiming the true Gospel, because we preach from the Bible and even speak about Christ. If Christ, however, is not the center of our lives and the essence of what we proclaim, we are on dangerous ground. Then it so easily happens that:
- We begin adding man’s interpretations and non-Biblical teachings to the simple Gospel message.
- We start being led by a list of rules, instead of being led by God’s Holy Spirit.
- We become so busy with what we think God has taught us, that we lose fellowship with the God who teaches us.
- We give glory to the people used by God instead of giving glory to the God who, through His Grace, uses weak, fallible and undeserving people.
- We put our emphasis on the gifts received from God and not on the God who gives gifts.
- We uplift revival instead of uplifting the God who revives.
Tragically, when this happens, people’s focus and trust is no longer on Christ, and on Him alone. A church or group then easily strays from the truth and soon turns into a cult that misleads and enslaves people!
For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2. (See also 2 Corinthians 3:1-6, Ephesians 2:8-10, Galatians 5:9 & Revelations 22:19)
May God have mercy on us and save us from false religion. May He give us the grace to know Christ, to abide in Him and to live in a loving relationship with Him. May we love Him and obey Him in all that we do.
May God also have mercy on those of us who teach others. May we be led by God’s Holy Spirit to teach God’s truth. Oh, that we would not be guilty of leading people astray!
Let us ask God to show us His Truth. Let us call out to Him and search for Him with all our hearts in His Word, the Bible. Let us read the Bible like a child, without any preconceived ideas, and see what it really says. God promises that, if we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him! (Matthew 7:7-8, Romans 10:13, Hebrews 11:6, Jeremiah 29:13 & Isaiah 55:6-7)
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