How to Spot a Religionists. Part 1

Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:17-29)

Who is the hardest people to reach with the gospel?

The out and out sinner. No

The moral upright living person. No, though he is harder than the out and out sinner.

The religious person. Yes.

By far...the religious person. Why?

The religionists is trying to work to secure his relationship with God thinking that His works will secure a spot in heaven for him. He is actually trusting his religion to save him. Paul points out that you can be religious and know about Christ, yet not know Christ. You can be a church member and still not be a believer.

Religion is man's best attempt to get to God. Grace is God's way of coming to man and the way is "Jesus Christ."

In verse 2 of our Romans passage Paul deals specifically with the Jewish religion because he was a Jew. But the principles apply to anybody who depends on religion for salvation. You could substitute the word Jewish for "denomination" and the word Jew for "church member" here and it would apply to our present environment. This scripture shows that religion will not get you to heaven. It will not save you. It will not make you right with God.

Thus passage of scripture reveals some characteristics of a religious person.

They are name-tag dependent.

Paul says in verse 17, "If you call yourself a Jew (name-tag) you think you can boast in God." The Jews thought that their name was an instant passport to relationship with God. This thinking was based on pride of tradition. The word Jew comes from the word Judah. It's first used in 2 Kings 16:6. Judah literally means "praise to God" or praise. So the word Jew means a praiser or he who praises God.

The Jewish people loved to depend on their name-tag. If you asked them "Are you a believer in God?" they'd say, "Of course! I'm a Jew!"

That same pride and arrogance runs ramped in the religious realm today? Ask the question "are you a believer in God?" and people will immediately answer, "Of course. I'm "Pentecostal" or Presbyterian" or Baptist or Methodist or any other of the hundreds of name-tags that are out there. Ask "Are you a Christian?" "Of course, I go to church every Sunday. I attend such and such church" as if that label will make you a believer in God. Godliness does not stem from being denominationally name-tagged! Name-tags may make you religious, but it does not make you a believer or godly.

Another characteristic of the religious is they rely on and are governed by rules and regulations.

"You rest (rely) on the law..." Paul is referring to the first five books of the Old Testament, commonly called the Pentateuch. These were the first five books written by Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Jewish religion called those five books the Torah.

The fact is the law has never and was never meant to bring people into right standing with God. Galatians teaches that that is not the purpose of the Law. The Jews felt that simply because the law given to their nation that made them godly, that they possessed a positional status and was highly favored by God. Simply because they possessed these books they felt like they were on God's side.

John 5:39-40 Jesus is speaking to a group of Pharisees who thought they were going to make it on their own works. "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that, by them, you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about Me and yet you refuse to come to Me to have life." Jesus was saying, You think you're going to get to heaven just because you have the Bible.

The same though pattern is around today. In asking people, are you a Christian? They might answer, "Sure, I read the Bible, not only that I am a King James only ", "I go to church every Sunday", I believe and support my denominated pastor and I am a member in good standing, as if these things made a person a believer.

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