When I see a new trend among God’s children, my inclination is to be skeptical. Lately, the popular trend seems to be to run down religion. I see statements often similar to, “Hate religion; love Jesus.” But what does God’s word say?
In scripture, we read of such a thing as corrupt religion (Acts 26:5), and we also read of pure religion (James 1:27). If someone wishes to speak against religion, I would ask kindly that they please be specific: Do they mean corrupt religion or pure religion?
God set up the church as a good thing that is necessary for his children if they want to serve God to the best of their ability. We ought to be encouraging pure religion by following scripture, which advocates organizing together as a church to worship God in song, prayer, and preaching.
Organized religion isn’t necessary to true worship, some say. There are those who claim that they can worship God just as well on their own, outside the church. But what saith the scripture?
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord… (Ephesians 3:8-12)
The Apostle Paul says here that it’s the eternal purpose of God to use the church to reveal his wisdom. So, how can one become acquainted with the wisdom of God without the church?
Our Lord said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth,” (John 4:24). Jesus said here that you can’t worship God without truth. The church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15), so how can someone come to know all about God’s truth if they aren’t in the church? The logical conclusion is that one can’t truly worship God outside of the church.
Run down organized religion in general and you run people away from a necessary part of true worship, our Lord’s church.
Yes, religion can become corrupt. But when that happens, should not the focus be upon purging the corruption rather than religion? Is the corruption of religion the fault of the religion itself (which is ordained of God) or is it the fault of sinful man?
And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7:20-23)
Man’s problems are the result of man’s sinfulness. As our society moves in general away from this principle, we start to place the blame on outside entities for our problems rather than where the blame ought to be.
When religion is defiled, let us turn from our sinful ways back to the pure, undefiled religion laid out for us in God’s book.