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How to Identify the Spirit of Religion

Anything humans add to the finished work of Christ as a supplement or a required badge of accomplishment is part of false religion. There is only one true religion, but we call Him Jesus. Everything else is a human invention called “religion.”


The Apostle Paul said,

“The Gospel I announce is not a mere human invention.” Galatians 1:11


The devil is constantly enticing us to walk in “mere human inventions” and not in the power of God.


“You heard, didn't you, the way I behaved when I was still within ‘Judaism.’ I persecuted the church of God violently and ravaged it.” Galatians 1:13.


[Judaism is in quotation marks because Paul knows that Jesus the Messiah is the true definition of Torah observance. Paul had to struggle with the limitations of language concerning Judaism in the same way we wrestle with the word “religion.” There is nothing fundamentally wrong with religion, nor Judaism, so long as it is the true religion that worships Yahweh alone and the authentic Judaism that recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. But since there are many false religions and wrong ideas about Judaism and only one Truth, it is easier to refer to the lies clumped together as “religion” and “Judaism.” We refer to the truth as “The Gospel” or “Jesus,” but however we try, our language breaks down, and we must learn to read between the lines to grasp the Truth.]


“...when I was still within ‘Judaism.’ I persecuted the church of God violently and ravaged it.” Galatians 1:13


Here we note that the religion of Judaism led Paul to attack the Church violently. The spirit of religion attacks true faith and the work of God.


“I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age and people; I was extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” Galatians 1:14


The spirit of religion thinks about “advancement” and going “beyond” other people. Religion appeals to pride and accomplishment and cannot rest.


What is the antidote to false religion? Humility and gratitude.


Every ounce of value we have as human beings comes from the fact that God chooses to value us. It was God’s idea to create us; nobody helped Him. And it was God’s idea to save us, and He did it alone in the person of Jesus.


All that is left for us is to live out of our gratitude and faith in God’s love for us.

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