Is it Damagining to the Cause of the Gospel?
I find no evidence in Scripture for religion, nor for denominational formation. The idea that religion is the way to find and hear from God is the gospel way is a lie that is believed to be truth by the religiously deceived.
The English word "religion" is etymologically derived from the Latin word religo, meaning to "bind up." Religion binds people up in rules and regulations or in ritualistic patterns of devotion.
"state of life bound by monastic vows," also "conduct indicating a belief in a divine power," from Anglo-Fr. religiun (11c.), from O.Fr. religion "religious community," from L. religionem (nom. religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods," in L.L. "monastic life" (5c.); according to Cicero, derived from relegare "go through again, read again," from re- "again" + legere "read" (see lecture). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (and many modern writers) connects it with religare "to bind fast" (see rely), via notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans and gods."
It was man's idea to formulate religion by taking that which is invisible and Spirit controlled and attempt to make it visible, tangible and man-controlled. Man-made religion! The apostle Paul refers to it as "self-made religion" (Colossians 2:23), and goes on to indicate that it is of no value against fleshly indulgence. In essence, Paul is saying that "religion is of no value against man's sinfulness." In fact, religion is an enabler to help people sin. Religion itself is an addiction!
When the apostle Paul came to Athens (Acts 17:22), he observed their idols and exclaimed, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects." The Greek word that Paul used for "religious" literally means "to have great respect for demons." Religion is essentially idolatry. Men worship their man-made formations and structures...their ideological idols formed in the concrete of inflexible minds.
Here are some Old Testament scripture verses that substantiate that Religion is not of God:
"...every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods." (Deuteronomy 12:31)
"I have had enough of burnt offerings...Bring your worthless offerings no longer...I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts; they have become a burden to Me... So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you... I will not listen..." (Isaiah 1:10-15)
"I hate, I reject your festivals; nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies...take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps." (Amos 5:21-24)These passages bear out the fact that God did not sanction religion, nor all of its procedures and programs; rituals and regulations.
Religion is the result of man taking that which is of God and forming it, formulating it, denominating it, segregating it, doctrinating it in such a way that men end up "playing God.
Jesus can lose you from the bonds of religion and set you free, if you would but unwrap the grave clothes of denominationalism and walk in the freedom of the Spirit He has given to be your leader.