“Man’s religion” does not deal honestly, either with God or with himself. He is obliged to give a much better representation of himself than the case warrants. He is obliged to profess to be what he thinks he ought to be, and what he supposes God wishes him to be. He practices deceit upon his own conscience; and he tries to practice the same deceit upon God. The whole of man’s religion may be said to be founded upon this dishonest dealing.
I believe that human morality, rather than flagrant sin, is the greatest obstacle to the gospel today. If you ask the average law-abiding person why he expects to go to heaven, the answer will be some form of “because I’ve been good.” The rich young ruler (see Matthew 19:16-20), the prodigal son’s older brother (see Luke 15:28-30), and the Pharisee praying in the temple (see Luke 18:9-12) all had this in common: They were confident of their own goodness. Their attitude is replicated throughout our society. And the more religious a person is, the more difficult it is for that person to realize his or her need for the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
This is the difference between religion and atheism; religion does not grow without planting, but will die even where it is planted without watering. Atheism, irreligion, and profaneness are weeds that will grow without setting, but they will not die without plucking up.
This is true religion, to approve what God approves, to hate what He hates, and to delight in what delights Him.
Either our religion will transform us or we will transform our religion to suit our sympathies.
What you are when you are alone with God, that you are – and nothing more. You may make a great show of love and faith in church, singing like Pavarotti or attracting the masses to your profound Sunday school lectures. But if there is no private communion between you and Jesus – frequent and deep communion – then your religion is worthless.
A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.
Jesus did not accept religious people. In fact, He kept His fiercest threats for them. You see, Jesus was not about sentimentality; He was about truth. Jesus is truth personified. He is the living manifestation of the holy law of God, and as such, He perfectly understood that religion, spiritual teaching, contrary to the truth comes from hell and sends people there. Anything but the truth is a damning deception that has the greatest power to destroy souls forever because it gives the illusion that all is well. In fact, I would go so far as to say that of all the evils in the world, of all the sins in the world, of all the iniquities in the world, our Lord knew that religion was the worst — false religion — and especially false Judaism and false Christianity. And that’s why the severest eternal judgment will be rendered for the religious who perverted the Old Testament and the New Testament.
How to Evangelize Religious People. The sermon originally appeared (https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/42-164/how-to-evangelize-religious-people) at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.
[False religion goes] way beyond what the New Testament teaches, adding almost endless rituals, routines, ceremonies, regulations, because there’s nothing on the inside but you can create a bigger illusion that way.
There are only two ways that you can believe you can come to God; either on the merits of Christ or on your own merits. It’s either by grace and grace alone or it’s by works or some mixture of grace and works. It’s only two things. There’s only two kinds of religion in the world. The religion of divine accomplishment, the religion of human achievement, Christianity, the true gospel is the religion of divine accomplishment: God does it all, you simply believe. Every other religious system in the world is a religion of human achievement.
Christ Creates Conflict in the Synagogue. The sermon originally appeared (https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/42-182/christ-creates-conflict-in-the-synagogue) at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.
All false religions have their own diversities, but all false religions agree in taking a position opposite the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rejecting the King’s Authority. The sermon originally appeared (https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/42-244/rejecting-the-kings-authority) at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.
What is a false religion? A false religion is any religion by any name that is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether it’s Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or some aberrant kind of Christianity. All false religions agree on being anti-gospel. This is the greatest attack always on the truth.
All the false religions of the world are attempts to run from the true God. They’re all satanic counterfeits sending men in the opposite direction from God. Isaiah 53, verse 6 sums it up: “All we like sheep have gone astray, turned everyone to his own way.” We’re like sheep in that we go astray. Sheep go astray by nature. Our nature sends us away from God. We flee from God. We flee in some noble effort to feel good about our fleeing, and so we invent false religion to accommodate our rebellion.
Who’s to Blame for the Riots. The sermon originally appeared at: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/81-80/whos-to-blame-for-the-riots at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.
Revelation comes from God for the purpose of helping man to live in harmony with God’s will, whereas religion is man’s attempt to order his path and to explain the world around him. The godly in every age live in accordance with revelation (William VanGemeren).
Religion says, “Attain”; the gospel says, “Obtain.” Religion says, “Attempt”; the gospel says, “Accept.” Religion says, “Try”; the gospel says, “Trust.” Religion says, “Do this;” the gospel says, “It is done” (John T. Seamands).
Trying to be holy from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
The oldest and most revered tactic for avoiding the misery of guilt is religion. This tactic may be the most deceptive because it comes closest to the truth. It recognizes what the intellectual and physical strategies generally ignore: that the ultimate cause of guilt is that there is a righteous God whose will for his creatures is ignored or defied. It recognizes that under every pang of conscience in the human soul there is the silent, often unexpressed conviction, “I have gone against God.” The means that religion has developed to deal with this guilt is to try to placate or appease God with good works or religious ritual. Religious people know they owe God a great debt for their disobedience. But they often make the terrible mistake of thinking they can pay it back through good works and the performance of religious duties.
Outward acts of…piety which do not flow from the new and God-given affections of the heart, which delight to depend on God and seek his glory are only legalism and have no value in honoring God.
Jesus did not come so that we might live a life of superficial religion. He came so that we might receive new life through supernatural regeneration.
Religion is not a thing which it is possible to put off and put on like a Sunday dress… If you think you are doing so, believe me that as yet it is not a religion, but a web of delusions.
Religion is not a preference. Although people are allowed to hold their own opinions, they cannot make up their own truth. This cannot be done with religion any more than it can be done with mathematics. To insist that all religions are equally true is another way of saying that all religions are equally false… If every religion is compatible with its opposite, why bother with religion at all?
All false religion is based on works to achieve God’s favor. And when you base it on works you will either use God’s Word as a means to obtain God’s favor or ignore God Word and create your own expectations. Both are deadly because both short-circuit God method of grace.
Jesus clashed most with religious people, specifically the Pharisees. There was always storm when they were together. Religious people preach salvation by works. Jesus preached salvation by grace. Religious people are into the outward appearance. Jesus is into the heart. Religious people sent Jesus to the cross for their egos – pride. Jesus went to the cross for our salvation – humility.
It’s clear that all the religious systems are different. Yet all the religious systems, except Christianity, are all ultimately the same. Every world religion teaches what man must do to earn his salvation. Only Christianity teaches that we cannot earn our salvation, but that God in Christ must accomplish it for us. Thus, in Christianity, as compared to all other religions, it is gift versus reward and grace versus works and faith versus effort and humility versus pride and Christ versus self.
This is the essence of all man-made religion: Self-absorption, smug complacency, false assurance, boastful comparison, scornful disdain, desired attention, works salvation, outward appearance, spiritually deceived, absent repentance, self-righteousness, self-condemning, unloving and unmerciful, faithless and graceless.
Religion today is not transforming the people – it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society – it is descending to society’s own level and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smiling accepting its surrender.
Most men, indeed, play at religion as they play at games, religion itself being of all games the one most universally played.