Relevant Bible Teaching "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."
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What Is True Religion?
 
Man’s definition of religion:
 
Here is what the dictionary has to say about religion:
 
A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith. Something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience[1].
 
I.e. Man views religion as a belief in a supernatural being or force of some kind accompanied by some moral standards and faith-based activities. But is this all that religion is? Is it simply about believing some things and practicing some things, or does it run deeper? 
 
God’s definition of religion:
 
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.  Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:26-27)
 
In other words, God looks down at man’s efforts and shenanigans and sees them as meaningless, worthless, and ineffective for what really counts- the state of his heart. Good works are the evidence of a true heart change, and they do matter to God. True religion does have works as a result. But the starting point is to be made clean on the inside. Who could possibly keep themselves perfectly “unstained” by the things of the world? Who has perfectly controlled every word that he says, let alone thinks? None of us have. Thus, left to ourselves, we are doomed to be evil at heart because this is who we are, and our deeds bear this out. Sure, there is always somebody worse than we are (we hope), but God is holy (morally perfect, pure, and unblemished, perfect in every way). His requirement for us is to be holy as He is holy. This will never happen on our own no matter how hard we try, and some have tried mighty hard. God, in great love, knew that we could not make ourselves righteous, so He made a way. Enter Jesus Christ. Read more
 


[1] American Psychological Association (APA):
religion. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved January 20, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion
Modern Language Association (MLA):
"religion." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 20 Jan. 2007. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion>
Chicago Manual Style (CMS):
religion. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion (accessed: January 20, 2007).