How to Spot a Religionists.
How to Spot a Religionists.
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 are 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. Why? Because he thinks he has everything down pat when it comes to the gospel and what he knows about God!
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 the 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. If you substitute the word Jewish for "denomination" and the word Jew for "church member" it would apply to the present day religious 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.
This 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 their pride of tradition. The word Jew comes from the word Judah. It is 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 thousands 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.
Religious people think they have a special favor of God, and the higher they are on the religious hierarchy scale the greater favor they have.
Many religious people brag about their relationship with God. In conversing with a guy, based on Acts 17:11 which states; These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so...he had this to say; I quote "So according to this all Christians are not equal. Paul makes a distinction between those who study the Scriptures and those who don`t. He says that those who study the Scriptures are more noble. I have made up my mind of which group I will be in this modern time when some of this things appear to be old fashion and outdated." End quote
This superior elitist attitude shows the depth of deception people are in and their ignorance of what is meant by the word noble in that they think they are better than other Christians and are shown more favor by God.
Noble here means: having, showing, or coming from personal qualities that people admire (such as honesty, generosity, courage, etc.)
It does not mean: relating to, or belonging to a higher religious class or being better spiritually or more favored by God than someone else.
Such thinking, that they are better than other believers, reeks with egoistical self-righteousness that displeases God, but in their deception they believe it pleases God...may God have mercy on their deceived soul and arrogant attitude.
Paul writes, "You call yourself a Jew, you rely on the law, and brag about your relationship to God." The Jews felt that they had an inside track to God. They felt that because they were the chosen people, they had special status, "God likes us more than other people, that makes us the spiritual group." Have you ever met anybody with that attitude? My denomination is the better one because we believe the Bible truer than you do. That's a trait of religion.
Jesus has nothing to do with religion except to show that He was against it. Jesus taught that religion was not the avenue to gain God's favor. It's the relationship that gets you in favor with God not religion. The Jews felt very secure. When you study the scriptures you find that God often bypasses a religious establishment to get His message across. When God wanted to announce Jesus' birth did He go tell the priests? No. Who did He first appear to? Shepherds. He bypassed the high priests, the rabbis, the teachers, the religious groups. When God wanted to get the message out it says, "The word of God came to John the Baptist." Who was John the Baptist? A nobody as far as the religious establishment was concerned. He wasn't part of the religious establishment.
Religion's hierarchy position themselves as the spiritual information pipeline from God to the pew-warmer. They claim to know the will of God for the people in the denomination!" Because the Jews had God's word, they claimed to know His will! The all important word is "if"..."if you know His will". The religionists think they've got it together: they've got the name-tag, they have got the Pentateuch, they think they are the pipeline to God. Paul is saying it's not enough to know God's will, you need to live in His will.
Religionists approve of their beliefs because they are instructed and taught by their denominated seminarian religious professor and believe what they are taught. It is no different than the Pharisees who taught the Law because they were taught the Law by the Law teachers.
Another religious dysfunctional characteristic is their condescending attitude towards others who do not believe as they do therefore, not as spiritually enlightened as they are.
They think they've got more spiritual insight that the ordinary believer.. "We're the teachers, we're the enlightened, We've got the "AUTHORIZED KJV BIBLE" we know the way and will show you the way." They view others as spiritually blind, foolish, in spiritual darkness, and everybody else is more spiritual ignorant than they are! Have you ever known anyone who was a religious snob? "Listen to me, I've got the answer for that spiritual difficulty." A religious know it all? Wants to show you how much Bible knowledge they've got in their head. This is a characteristic of a religious person. They use the Bible as a weapon to shoot out of context Bible verses at you when you go wrong or do not agree with their religious philosophy. They take great pride in correcting you. They've always got a verse to quote; it gives them an ego boost.
Religious people have a condescending attitude toward others. They act as if they are the know-it-alls who go out and beat up on people and then they complain about being persecuted. Suffering for Jesus? No, they're just being obnoxious! Don't blame it on Jesus. No matter what you're doing if you're going to be obnoxious, people are going to be upset.
If your beliefs make you feel superior to others and put them down, then you're devoted to a religion not a relationship. As a believer you are not to feel spiritually superior.
Verse 21 states "You who teach others, do you not teach yourself? And you who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? And you who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?"
Another characteristic of religious people is that they don't always walk the talk they talk.
Religious people are easy prey for hypocrisy because they have external standards. They hold up a standard of living then they don't live up to it themselves. Paul asks them these pointed questions: "Do you practice what you preach?" Notice what they do: "you teach", "you preach", "you say", "you abhor", "you brag". What do all of these words have in common? They're all related to the tongue. Religious people are great at mouth-offers things but not living what they mouth-off.
Paul is saying, "Your walk does not match your talk. Your conduct does not match your product. Your behavior does not match your belief. You say one thing but you do something else." Isaiah 29:13 "They honor Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me." A lot of religious people just give lip service. On Sunday they put on their best performance, go through a ritual, say a prayer, sing praise songs as lip service, but they fail to walk the walk that talk.
Ezekiel 33:31-32 This is the basis for what Paul was saying. "My people come to You as they usually do and they set before You to listen to Your words but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.
Romans 1. Paul has listed the seven characteristics of a religious person. The result of religion in the world is in v. 24 "As it is written Jesus' name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." What an indictment! Paul isn't writing the easiest passage here. He's saying, because of your religion, non religious people are turned off! Because of your piousness, unbelievers reject God.
Non-believers usually don't have hang ups with God, they have hang ups with self-righteous Christians. They don't have hang ups with the Jesus, they have hang ups with denominations and their hypocrisy. They have a problem with believers who act spiritually superior, who pretend to be perfect, who brag about being better than others, brag about their relationship to God, and treat other people in this condescending manner.
Blasphemy is bringing shame on God's name. Paul says because of the way you act, unbelievers are turned off, and don't want to have anything to do with the way of doing church. He says You claim to be teachers, instructors, guides for everybody but you're actually turning people away.
No wonder unbelievers say; "If being a Christian means being like most Christians in their elitism, you can have it for me."