Pure vs. Corrupted Religion

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. 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.
(James 1:26-27)

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
(Matthew 7:13)

Man’s religion makes man its center. It is constructed so as to revolve around himself. He is its Alpha and Omega – its first and its last. It makes him live for himself, think of himself, magnify himself. It teaches him to lessen the distance between himself and God, for the purpose of enabling him to remove that distance by his own endeavors; so that God is not the infinitely glorious Being, nor man the helpless and unworthy thing which Revelation declares him to be. Man’s religion is like the old astronomy, with the vast earth in the center, and the puny sun revolving round it!

Man’s religion trifles with sin. Having lessened the greatness of Jehovah’s character, and obscured His glory, it is not wonderful that he treats sin lightly. If God be not the infinitely holy and exalted One, then, opposition to Him, and contempt of His law are not very serious evils. They may be acknowledged as not wholly right; but they will not be felt as unutterably wrong. God is not seen to be so deeply, so awfully wronged; nay, it is difficult to make men believe that they can really wrong God at all. The evil of sin, as a wrong done to man’s self or to his fellows will be allowed; but its evil, as a wrong done to God, is never thought of. As that which may offend man, or break in upon his rights, sin will be dealt with as a real grievance; but as that which offends God or assails His rights, it is treated as a thing of nought. And as man trifles with sin, so he conceives that God will trifle with it, and overlook it. That which is such a small thing in his own eyes, he reasons, cannot be a great thing in God’s. Hence the common idea of Divine mercy is simply that of indifference to sin.

While man’s religion trifles with sin, God’s religion bases itself on the utterly odious and intolerable nature of sin. THE SOUL THAT SINNETH IT SHALL DIE, lies at the very foundation of God’s religion, and of all His dealings with the creature, specially of His transactions with the sinner.

Man’s religion has in it no struggles, no dangers, and but few difficulties. The path it prescribes is easy, not hard for flesh and blood. It leaves out the pangs of the new birth – the struggle with unbelief, with the flesh, with Satan. These have no place in it at all. It acknowledges no enemies, no hardships, no conflicts. It broadens the narrow way, smoothing its ruggedness, and plucking up the thorns and briers that beset it. God’s religion assumes all these things as not only certain, but necessary.

– Horatius Bonar

HAT TIP: Old Truth

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