I have been caught up with many aspects of false Christianity myself and have experienced and seen the heartache and trauma caused by it. As a result, I started seeking God and His truth with many tears. God, by His grace, started showing me, from the Bible, many differences between false religion and the Gospel.
Some of these differences between false Christianity, and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ are listed 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.
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.
3) Religion teaches that God’s love is conditional. You must perform to merit God’s love. The Gospel is about God’s unmeritted love.
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.
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.
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.
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.
8) Religion emphasizes that which is not important to God, for example human traditions and precise dress codes. The Gospel changes our priorities. What is important to God becomes important to us, i.e. mercy, faith, love and justice.
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.
10) Religion causes one to continuously labour and strive in the flesh. The Gospel gives us rest in Christ.
11) Religion is about doing works by our own efforts. The Gospel is about bearing fruit by abiding in Christ.
12) Religion causes one to desire to please man, and especially religious leaders. The Gospel causes us to desire to please God.
13) Religion results in the fear of man. The Gospel results in us fearing and loving God.
14) 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.
15) 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.
16) 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 saved by the grace of God alone.
17) Religion causes the religious to condemn others. Religious people do not perceive 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.
18) The religious do not associate with people considered sinful. True children of God love sinners and reach out to them in love.
19) Religious groups usually consider some members more special and more holy than others. The Gospel declares that all believers are saints and holy in God’s sight. They are all children of God and co-heirs with Christ.
20) In religion you often find that some people are treated better than others. The Gospel teaches us that God does not show partiality. It teaches believers to honour one another and to treat one another without partiality.
21) The religious judge people by their external appearance. The Bible teaches that we should not judge people by their external appearance.
22) 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.
23) The religious almost always follow and adore a human leader. The Gospel is about following and adoring Christ.
24) Religion attempts to exalts and give glory to the religious leaders. The Gospel exalts God and states that all glory and honour belong to Him alone.
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 speak to them personally through His Holy Spirit and through His Word.
26) Religious people believe that leaders need to intercede for common people. The Gospel declares that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only mediator between us and God. All believers can approach the throne of grace with boldness through Him.
27) Religious leaders often use religion for their own benefit to gain fame, honour, riches and control over people. True shepherds of the flock deny themselves for God’s people and will often suffer loss for the sake of the Gospel and for others.
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.
29) Religion normally uses fear and intimidation to keep people in its clutches. The Gospel keeps people through God’s love and faithfulness.
30) Religious leaders often treat people with harshness and abuse them. True shepherds of the flock treat people with meekness and love.
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.
32) Religion brings people into bondage. The gospel sets people free.
33) Religious leaders often get false witnesses to slander true believers. The Bible clearly states that one should not bear false witness.
34) Religion teaches that the end justifies the means. The religious will even go as far as lying or murdering for their cause. The Bible teaches that we will all be judged according to our deeds.
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. The Bible, however, declares woe to those who acquit the guilty and deprive the innocent of his right.
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.
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 all people are imperfect and fallible.
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.
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.
40) Those in high positions in religious groups often get away with serious offences, sometimes even murder. The Bible teaches that leaders and teachers will be judged more severely than other people.
41) Religion is merciless. In religion, the one who contravenes religion must be beaten, expelled, shunned, ostracized or even killed without mercy. The Bible teaches that because we received mercy, we should show mercy to others.
42) The religious are cold-hearted. They do not care about people’s feelings nor do they have sympathy for people’s heartache and tears. 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.
43) Religion causes hurt, severe emotional pain and many tears without offering any comfort. The gospel brings comfort and joy. The Lord Jesus will ultimately wipe away all tears from believers’ eyes.
44) Religion causes parents to treat their children harshly and without love. As a result, children feel unloved and eventually become rebellious and turn away from God. The Gospel, in contrast, results in parents loving their children unconditionally. These parents desire to please God, and not man, in the way they raise, train and treat their children.
45) 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. The Gospel is God’s truth revealed throughout the Bible. The essence of the Gospel is the crucified and risen Christ.
46) Religion is often accompanied by deceiving signs and wonders. The wonder of the Gospel is that Christ raises those who are dead in sin to be alive in Christ. The supreme sign of the Gospel is that Christ was raised from the dead. The sign that the Gospel is being manifested in our lives is that we love one another.
47) Tragically, religion makes people spiritually blind, and yet convinces them that they can see. The Gospel opens the eyes of the spiritually blind. Praise God, it can even open the eyes of those blinded by religion!
48) 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.
49) 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.
50) The religious are very zealous to make converts and will go to great lengths to do so. Sadly, the Lord Jesus said they make those converts twice as much children of hell as themselves. The Lord Jesus humbled himself unto death in order to seek and to save those who are lost. He makes them children of God.
51) Since the beginning of time people who trust in their works have persecuted the people of faith. When one forsakes religion and clings to the Gospel, persecution by the religious will almost certainly follow.
52) The religious strongly opposed and rejected our dear Lord and Saviour and nailed Him to the cross. They also strongly opposed the believers and consequently unknowingly persecuted the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The Gospel is about embracing the rejected and crucified Saviour.
53) The religious persecute the children of God. Children of God love their persecutors.
54) Religion results in hypocrisy and lies. The Gospel brings about honesty and truth.
55) 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.
56) Sadly, the image of piety portrayed by religious groups is severely misleading. Even when attempts are made to expose the evil and atrocities committed in secret within the groups, very few people believe it. Jesus, however, promised that there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.
57) False religion is demonic and from hell. The Gospel is the gift of God unto salvation and imparts eternal life to those who believe.
58) Religion enslaves people. The Gospel liberates people from slavery and makes them free in Christ.
59) False religion drives people away from God. The Gospel draws people to God.
60) Religion deceives many. The mystery of the Gospel is grasped by only a few.
61) 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.
62) Religion results in condemnation, fear and despair. The Gospel imparts hope, peace and joy to all believers.
63) Religion leaves one thirsty. The Gospel satisfies one’s thirst with living water, which even overflows to others.
64) 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. 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.
65) The Lord Jesus pronounced seven woes on the religious leaders and those who proclaimed false religion. The Bible declares that the feet of those who proclaim the good news of the Gospel are blessed.
66) Paul forsook religion and counted it as dung for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.
67) 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. We should pray for discernment and test everything by God’s Word.
68) Those caught up in religious groups are usually severely influenced by group pressure and group thinking. The Gospel deals with people as individuals and each person will stand alone before the judgement seat of Christ.
69) The religious often think they are rich and lack nothing. Those blinded by religion are so convinced that they are right, that they do not even want to consider the possibility of being wrong. The Holy Spirit brings about poverty of spirit. A true believer realises the deceitfulness and depravity of his own heart.
70) Religious people often do not accept admonition. 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.
71) Tragically, those caught up in religion often close their ears to the truth of the Gospel and harden their hearts against God’s Spirit. The Gospel, on the other hand, makes one sensitive to God’s Holy Spirit.
72) Religion cannot fulfil the prayer of the Lord Jesus, “Father make them one, even as we are one”, as religion brings about division. 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.
73) 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.
74) 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.
75) Because we preach from the Bible and even speak about Christ, we can so easily think that we are proclaiming the true Gospel. If Christ, however, is not the centre of our lives and the essence of what we proclaim, we are on dangerous ground.
For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2.
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.
For the full version with scripture references please see: https://knowinggodsheart.blog/2019/03/09/false-religion-versus-the-gospel/