~Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

~Galatians 1:13-14 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Paul was as religious as one could get and was zealous of the traditions of his fathers! Ah yes, I know so many who are going down the same path as Paul. He was heading down the path of religious suicide and so are they.  Obviously the traditions of his fathers were not leading him to salvation. I have so many friends and relatives who are zealous about their religion and they follow after the traditions of their forefathers. But when I encourage them to seek for themselves in God’s Word whether these things be true (Acts 17:11), I am accused of hatred. Really? Hatred? Why would I hate someone if I am leading them to the Bible? I dare say it isn’t hatred but love for those who are about to commit spiritual suicide 🙁

It is not religion that saves the lost. Only Christ can save the lost. (John 14:6)

~James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain.

What does your mouth say about your religion? Do you have to speak your mind? Do you talk and cuss like the world? These things don’t save you but they prove (they are a testimony of) your salvation. One who bridles his tongue won’t speak ill of his neighbor. One who bridles his tongue won’t lie.

~James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Maybe you don’t lie and you do bridle your tongue, does that make you saved? James continues on to give us evidence of the fruit of salvation. One who claims religion must claim that he is unspotted from the world. Can you claim this? Are you undefiled before God?

Religion is leading many to Hell, that’s for sure. Only Christ was perfect and it is His shed blood on the cross that takes away our sin and makes us undefiled before God. We cannot be spotless without Him.

~Luke 24:46-47 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Notice that repentance AND remission of sins should be preached! Today’s preaching doesn’t include repentance. Most preachers give the invitation and explain what one must do to be saved but they never add “and you must repent (turn away and give them up) of your sins.”

You cannot just say you’re religious because Paul was likely a much more religious person than you! It’s the repentance part that separates the “boys from the men”! You can “believe” the gospel but not live like it. The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-18) gives us a clear understanding of the difference. To truly “believe the gospel” one must repent!

~Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Is it any wonder people are committing religious suicide today? They believe that their “church affiliation” is good enough to get them into Heaven.  They are sadly mistaken! Repentance is grossly missing from today’s gospel and it is evident in what it produces: an extremely worldly church with much of its membership just as lost as when they joined.

Don’t be as Paul was, on your way to committing religious suicide. But follow him after he “saw the light” on the road to Damascus. It was then that his eyes were opened to Jesus Christ, his (Paul’s) Saviour. It was then that Paul realized that his zeal for the traditions of his fathers and his own religion were not taking him to Heaven at all. His whole life was turned upside-down. He became the greatest Apostle and the Holy Spirit used him to pen most of the New Testament!