Jesus vs. Religion
I almost hesitate to tell people that I am a Christian. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16), and I am definitely not ashamed of the gospel or of Christ, far from it. But I am ashamed of the “Christianity” that many professing Christians present to the world. A Christianity that has added in their own codes of legalism – making it ultimately unchristian.
I have tried to witness to far too many people who have simply told me, “Christians are just legalistic, judgemental hypocrites.” And while some say this simply because they don’t like the fact that the Bible condemns sin, most of the time I have to agree with them. Modern-day Pharisees have overrun so many churches and added their codes of legalism to the gospel and judge people based on them.
It certainly is true that the Bible itself does judge Christians who live in blatant sin (see 1 Cor. 5:9-13) and I am not suggesting that Christians turn a blind eye to sin or prescribe to the modern “tolerance” movement. But I am saying that it is wrong to look down on others because they do not follow your personal convictions. I am saying that it is wrong to look down on others because they don’t live up to your standards. In fact, I would argue that it is wrong to look down on anyone for any reason. Even if someone is living in sin, that doesn’t give you a ticket to look down on them. Followers of Christ should be filled with pity for the lost, not contempt.
The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see that the essence of living the Christian life is the condition of your heart. We all know that looks can be and are deceiving. No one has a perfect life – some people just have better acts than others. I think it is sad that so many Christians judge their standing with God based on the opinions of those around them. Of course, you also have many that judge their standing with God based on how well they are following their own creed. It is as if they pray, “God I thank you that I am righteous, I do not have tattoos, I do not drink, I do not smoke, I do not dance, I do not use bad language…”
You know Luke 18:9 says that Jesus told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector to, “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt”. Wow. That sounds like far too many American “Christians”. Far too many American Christians have turned the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ into another false religion by adding their own codes.
We are justified in the eyes of God by the finished work of Christ ALONE. Good works will follow because we have new hearts and new desires. But the second that we trust in a single one of our works, rather than the sacrifice of Christ, we are ultimately denying the power of the gospel and trying to add to it.
May God kill the pride in our hearts. In my heart. Salvation is through Christ alone.