“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:26, 27)
This is one of the few times the word “religion” or “religious” appears in the Greek New Testament. It takes on the meaning of demonstrative worship, such as being pious.
But that is not the common understanding of this much-used or abused term. Most lexicographers would agree that “Religion” comes from the Latin religare, and speaks of binding something together. This is the basic definition and leaves much to be explained as to what is bound together, and how it’s done.
Many understand religion as that which binds God and man together. And, if one is to read the multiple textbooks on religion, he will soon discover that almost all of the world’s religions or belief-systems see good works as that which binds man to God or gods.
This is where genuine biblical Christianity, and only such Christianity differs: It is a belief-system that views one’s binding to God as a RELATIONSHIP, rather than as a RELIGION. It categorically excludes any and all good works of mankind from appeasing or pleasing God. The Bible makes it rather clear:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). The Old Testament prophet Isaiah puts it this way, “And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6b).
Quite frankly, God doesn’t want your good deeds, no matter what form they take. It’s not what you do for God, but what God has done for you! You are a sinner and God gave His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins. That’s His gift to you! “…as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12). That’s biblical RELIGION – – and that makes for an eternal RELATIONSHIP! This is the only way to get to heaven (John 14:6)!