If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
(James 1:26-27, ESV)
Have you ever invited someone to a church service and was told, “No thanks, I am not religious.” Whenever I received this response, I used to try to convince them I’m not “religious” either. It made me start wondering what the difference is between faith and religion. The scriptural definition of faith, according to Hebrews 11:1, is the assurance that the things revealed and promised in the Word are true, even though unseen, and gives the believer a conviction that what he expects in faith, will come to pass. People of faith serve the Lord and walk faithfully with Him, glorifying Him in every way we can.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
(Matthew 23:13-14, NIV)
It saddens me every time someone refuses to come and worship the Lord, the Creator of life, because of a lie the enemy has planted in their mind regarding the church, Unfortunately, there are many people that have turned away from God because of “religious” people that may not be walking in faith. Jesus called them hypocrites. Some of them may use the Scriptures to control or even manipulate others, which is often the reason people turn away from the Word. In Romans 8, we are told there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If we trust Him and live our lives in Him and He is in us, then we, those who walk in faith, are the church—the body of Christ.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.