RELIGION is a word that we have heard all our lives. We hear it so much that might become very commonplace. Another Problem is that we who are children of God have a tendency to think of Christianity every time we hear the word “religion.” Religion doesn’t have to mean Christianity. Christianity is a religion, but not all religions are Christianity. There are many false religions in our world, like Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam (or Mohammadism), etc. In fact, not even all so-called “Christian” religions are true Christianity.

We can be sure that just being sincere in some religion is not enough. We who know that there is only one true God realize that all those who follow these gales religions are certainly lost. Their are many who express a sincere devotion to their denomination, but they are not saved even though they are sincere. Paul was very sincere as he rounded up Christians and wasted the church of God. He said, “after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee” (Acts 6:5). And to the Galatians he said, “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: and profited in the Jew’s religion above my equals in mine own nation, being more zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:13-14). How sad that so many today are embedded in the religion of their fathers or grandfathers simply because it is their parent’s or grandparent’s religion.

Paul was sincere and honest while professing the Jewish religion, but he acknowledges that he was wrong. From these verses we learn that Paul’s zeal and sincerity was not a substitute for doing the right thing.

Many men have been deceived by false religions. They have been deceived into thinking that their religion is right, just as Paul was deceived. Jesus said to the Jews, “Ye search the scriptures, because in them ye THINK ye have eternal life” (John 5:39). Then again, He said about the same people: “This people draweth night unto Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).

True religion is what we do, not something we get! Some people talk about religion as if it is a disease: it catches us or we catch it. Pure religion is a life we live by our efforts to please God and keep His commandments: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). This is called “godliness.”

What about us? Is our religion in vain? One might ask: “How can that be; I’m a member of the Lord’s church?” Brethren, just being a member won’t save us. Look again at James 1:27 above. The verse preceding that verse stated: “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.” (James 1:26).

Let us not live a life professing to be a Christian, while at the same time living in such a way as to make our religion a vain religion.

—John D. Cotham

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