From The Heart

Publish date: 09/19/2010

If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren). 27 External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.  James 1:26-27 AMP

There are many, many people who claim to be “religious” and by that they mean that they believe in God or a god or some kind of higher power. Just because you are religious, or call yourself religious, doesn’t mean that your heart is right with God or even that you are a better person than the next person. There are many religions around the world and yet people still sin and still do bad things to one another. Most “religion” is nothing more than man-made tradition. It is fruitless, useless and powerless. Rather than being religious, we should strive to be godly and to live a godly life, conformed to God’s holy word.

So for the sake of your tradition (the rules handed down by your forefathers), you have set aside the Word of God [depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect]. 7 You pretenders (hypocrites)! Admirably and truly did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said: 8 These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me. 9 Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men. 
Matthew 15:6-9 AMP

When people are truly godly, as opposed to merely religious, they:
Are doers of the word
Walk in the love of God
Care about and help others
Keep their hearts right with God – their conscience is clear
Walk in the fruit of the spirit
Do not act like the world – they keep themselves free from sin – unspotted and uncontaminated from the world

Merely religious people display some or all of these traits:
Are not doers of the Word of God
Do not walk in the love of God
Want their own way
Are selfish, self-promoting and self-seeking
Manifest the works of the flesh
Are critical and judgmental
Are covetous, jealous and envious – are not happy when others are blessed
Put on a show – are boastful, arrogant and conceited
Claim to have the only way – believe they are always right
Are angry, hate-filled and even murderous – no natural compassion
Power-hungry and manipulative
Sad, sour, rude and unmannerly
Believe the worst of others
Are impatient and unkind
Are touchy and resentful
Are unforgiving and hold grudges
Are not concerned about injustice
Quench any joy in themselves and others
Cover their sin instead of repenting
Are bound up and seek to put others in bondage
Hate freedom and resent liberty

Religious people are people who don’t realize that God loves them – unconditionally. They don’t feel loved so they can’t love others. They feel judged and so they judge. They need to experience the goodness of God, repent of their bad attitude and be set free.

Religion alone is not a guarantee of heaven, because religion relies on works. Works alone are not enough. Salvation is by faith through grace. Only a personal relationship – with trust and reliance on the Name of Jesus, having believed in your heart, having confessed Him as Lord, having been washed in His blood, having been born again by the Spirit of God – is a guarantee of eternal life. The worst kind of religious person is one who has received Jesus, but either has not let go of old religious ideas, or they try to add to the simplicity of the Gospel with all kinds of man-made traditions.

From the time you receive Jesus, or recommit to Him, you must continually work to renew your mind to His pure, unadulterated word and be conformed to His image. You cannot return to your old life – you cannot start in the Spirit and then go back to the flesh – like a dog returning to its own vomit.

Everyone of us needs to have a regular “check-up”. Not at the doctor, but a heart check-up. We need to make sure that our daily attitude and conduct match up with the Word of God. We must measure our attitude and conduct against the standard of the Word of God and make the adjustments so that we can continue to walk in the freedom and liberty of the Holy Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty! (2 Cor. 3:17)