Home > true christianity > Religion vs. The Gospel (Part 1) – What does Religion look like?

Religion vs. The Gospel (Part 1) – What does Religion look like?

I used to think that if I prayed, read the bible a certain number of times a week, and went to church on Sunday that I was okay with God.  Heck, I believed if I went to church on Wednesday, God would give me bonus points!!!  Every week I got into a routine that just seemed to be like clockwork.  When I kept that schedule I felt great and righteous, but the weeks I didn’t keep the schedule, I did not feel so good about myself.  In some ways I felt like I was letting God down.  Man, don’t let the occasional “big” sin happen, I was crushed for a few weeks.

However, I had an epiphany of sorts.  I figured out that what I was doing wasn’t working.  I was working under a tremendous amount of guilt because I couldn’t always keep to the things that I set out.  Though I am a Christian, I subconsciously thought that if I did all these things that God would be pleased and that I was on my way to becoming a better person.  I had become religious and thought my being right consisted of the things I did for God.  In the process, I became a slave of my guilt and I became frustrated in my walk.

What I just described to you is a picture of Religion.  We keep a spiritual to-do list, and when we can’t check off everything, we feel frustrated and guilty.  The free gift that God gave us in Jesus doesn’t feel so free anymore.  In fact, the walk as a Christian feels enslaving, draining, and depressing.  Is this what God intended?  What do you think?

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  1. May 13, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I think you have described religion (the Christian flavor) quite well. Yet there is the rub. Each of those things you mentioned: Bible study, prayer, church attendance, and avoiding sin can be positive things. As humans, I think we find it terribly difficult avoiding making the good-for-us stuff into checklists. Whether spiritual disciplines, food, exercise, or relationships, we want to control things, so those things easily turn into checklists. Can’t wait to read part II.

  2. carlal
    May 13, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    I think that what you described as “religion” is not what Michael whnts to call”the Christian flavor” at all. What you described is an error in the teachings of many of the churches. It is deemed as work righteousness, and it is what those that believe tht they themselves can merit their own salvation by thier works. If you would read the scriptures especially Romans you will see that we are taught that we are saved by Grace , through faith and that by the gift of God. In turn of of thankfulness for being called into His grace we perform good works.
    Carlal

  3. godwithus1
    May 14, 2008 at 12:41 am

    I agree carlal. I don’t think it is just an error in the teaching in the church, though. I think it is also a mindset we carry as Christians, even if we have been taught better.

  4. May 13, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    carlal,

    I am not sure if you understood what I said. I will try to be more clear. I agree wholeheartedly that we are saved by grace. What I meant was that some Christians look at those things: Bible reading etc. as ways to gain favor with God. This is “the Christian flavor” of religion, as opposed to the Muslim flavor or the Hindu flavor. What these works are is not true Christianity if someone thinks they earn him or her favor with God. I hope that is clearer.

  5. carlal
    May 14, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Michael,
    I will say that you have made your belief in Christianity more clear, I guess that what alarmed me was where you put parenthesis around the phrase Christian flavor. The alarm stems from the fact that Christians recieve so much flack for being “fake”, and the use of the term Christian flavor in the content that it was used seemed to align you with those who dispises God. It is my belief tht we as followers of Christ must be careful as to how we present ourselves and our views on Christianity to the world. I know that there is the apostate church in this world, and it is these “Christians” that send the many errors that are dominating many of today’s churches into the world as the message of Christ.

  6. carlal
    May 14, 2008 at 8:56 am

    godwithus,
    Okay, you say that it is a mindset that we as Christians carry with us. Why is that the case? Is it not that these are the things that we hear when we attend some of todays churches? We are told that “We must make the “decision” for Christ, today!” As if it does not teach us in the Bible that it is Christ that chooses His people. We hear things such as “If you take one step, God will take two.”
    Just where in the Word of God is that scripture? And does not hearing things such as this tend to lead people to believe that it actually is thier works that will grant them redemption from their sins? What we as Christians need to do is to search for the true church of God, that teaches the Bible and the sovereignty of God and the Honoring of HIM above ourselves. Although these churches are few in number, they DO exist, I belong to such a church.

  7. May 14, 2008 at 11:09 am

    carlal,

    I see your point, and I agree. Thank you for the correction.

  8. godwithus1
    May 14, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I didn’t disagree with your point. We have people teaching and preaching these things. But I think that regardless of our teachers, we have a natural bent because of sin to think that we can make it on our own. Sin says,”I can do this by myself, I don’t need help.” We don’t always trust that God looks at us favorably for who we are. We aren’t always at peace with the truth that Jesus is our righteousness, and that nothing we do can earn us that.

    There are Christians who know the truth of justification by faith, but believe that now they are saved they should get to work. This “work” can become consuming and tiring especially if it is not Spirit-led, especially when WE try to hi-jack the process and not allow God to work. It comes from not understanding the work of Christ and what God was ultimately after — our heart. In my next post, I deal with this more.

  9. carlal
    May 14, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Okay, I can see tht you and I just might be on the same plain when it comes to the teachings of the Bible on ones salvation. I would like to keep reading your posts, as this one is very interesting to me.
    Many people do become consumed with thier works and forget that it is the Spirit that guides our good works and that without the guiding of the Holy Spirit our works are as filthy rags in the sight of The LORD.

  10. godwithus1
    May 14, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    carlal,

    Amen. I just use the blog to share my personal experience and start conversation. I think its okay for dialogue to happen — it isn’t until we understand why we believe what we believe that we become stronger as Christians. Conversation from the soul is a vehicle for that to happen.

  11. theteester
    May 18, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    I don’t think God intended for Christians to feel enslaved, trapped, drained or depressed during their Christian walk. However, I do believe he intended for us to feel uncomfortable through conviction when we disobey Him. I think when a Christian lives his life according to religious ideas and philosophies, they are likely to feel enslaved, trapped, drained and depressed. If you live your life according the Gospel, you live a life that is fun, free, and liberating. NOW DON’T GET ME WRONG…, living a life according to the Gospel is NOT always easy, but your life is not bound by man-made rules, thoughts, ideas, and laws. The Gospel is not defined by legalistic rules and regulations where as a religious lifestyle is……

  1. June 8, 2009 at 12:08 am

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