RELIGION VS TRUE CHRISTIANITY
by W. G. Guy
There are numerous varieties of religions; unfortunately there are also various forms of Christianity, all of which are considered to be religions. Religions are systems of beliefs, rituals and superstitions formed around false deities. However, true Christianity is not a religion because it is based on a personal relationship with the only God, the Creator, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Thus almighty God is a true Christian’s Heavenly Father.
There are many who call themselves Christians claiming it as their religion simply because they go to church, or because they were raised in a “Christian” home or environment, or educated with a Christian influence. Many such are not true Christians if they continue living like the rest of the world and do not reveal Christ in their lives. These consider themselves to be Christians because they know about God, Jesus Christ and the Bible stories, but they don’t really know Jesus Christ personally; they have no relationship with Him. Having knowledge of Christ does not make one a true Christian. Having the Spirit of Christ within which regulates one character and nature is what makes a person a true Christian.
For example, there are even those who claim to be ministers, preachers and teachers, but Jesus said that He did not know them; there was a deficiency in their relationship:
Matthew 7:21-23 – Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity, (doing your own thing).
The apostle Paul identified such Christian/religious impersonators that would be seen in the end-times:
2 Timothy 3:1-5 – This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Their behavior identifies them as fraudulent Christians who deny the power of changed lives – becoming Christ-like. Their behavior shows they have more self-love, which is selfishness, than the Christ or God kind of love for others as is required according to 1 John 3 and 4.
Jesus prayed for those who would truly be His and that He would be formed in them just as God the Father was formed in Jesus.
John 17:20-21 – Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Being conformed to the image of Christ is repeated in several other scriptures which identified the true Christians from those who claim to be but are Christians in name only:
Colossians 1:26-27 – even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Romans 8:28-29 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 13:13-4 – Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Ephesians 4:11-13 – And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Here we read that the purpose of the five gift ministries is for the perfecting (completion) of the saints to be fully formed into the likeness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:20-24 – But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Now consider the Laodicean Church which Jesus Called “the lukewarm” church that made Him want to vomit.
Revelation 3:14-19 – And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Jesus described those in this church as looking like and behaving like the rest of the world, because that appears to be where their desires/lusts are. They were so worldly that they were unable to see or recognize their condition. Jesus saying they are “naked” refers to their lack of His righteousness being attributed to them which is accomplished by faith. Jesus, because of His love, calls for this church to repent, and then He gives instructions on what they need to do.
Revelation 3:18-19 – I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Jesus declares that He has been left on the outside and wants to come in and have a proper relationship with them and for them to accept His fellowship, thus becoming like Him.
Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Jesus then declares that there are rewards to overcoming their lukewarm condition and conforming to His likeness. He then concludes with the call to hear and heed what He directs them to do by His Spirit.
Revelation 3-21-22 – To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Where do you fit in with this discussion; are you a true Christian? Or are you a lukewarm fraud? There is yet time to repent and change!
Galatians 5:24-25 – And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
The evidence of being a true Christian is to be able to say with the apostle Paul:
Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Think on this!