Yesterday, I published a controversial post which was originally entitled "I HATE CHRISTIANITY." Based upon the response by a dozen or so readers, I decided to change the title to "I HATE RELIGION." Amazingly, I began getting positive responses. The only other change was, instead of beginning with "Christianity is nothing more than a tool of the devil," I said, "Much of today's Christianity is nothing more...." I really hate to say this, but for those of you who were ready to "write me off as a heretic," I am not at all certain that you understood what I was attempting to say.
Religion, regardless of the label, is man's effort to appease a deity by governing one's own behavior. Webster's New World Dictionary lists as its first definition, "a belief in a divine or superhuman power or powers to be obeyed and worshiped as the creator(s) and ruler(s) of the universe." What the dictionary did not say, but clearly implied by this definition is that man's motive for his obedience and worship is his desire to earn favor, and/or to avoid wrath. Born again believers already know we have God's favor (another word for grace - Rom. 3:24), and that He gave His Son so that true we will never experience His wrath (1 Thes.1:10; 5:9).
Another difference, and definitely the most import of all, born again believers understand that their behavior has absolutely nothing to do with their salvation. We know we are sinners, and regardless of how hard we try, we will continue to sin as long as we are in our mortal bodies (Rom. 7; 1 Jn. 1:8-10). We didn't have to stop sinning in order to be saved, because God saved us while we were sinners (Rom. 5:8). That does not mean a believer's behavior will not change once he is born again. The Apostle Paul addresses how believers should behave in Romans chapter six, which could be entitled, "God Forbid!" Of the fifteen times the phrase "God forbid" appears in the New Testament, ten of them are in Romans (3:4, 6, 31; 6:2, 15; 7:7, 13; 9:14; 11:1, 11). Should a believer continue in sin, God forbid. However, as I mentioned earlier, we will, and God, knowing that, gave us the remedy in 1 John 1:9).
Born again believers are changed; we have become new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). God has begun the process of changing us into His Son's image (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 1:6; Col. 3:10). The process will be complete when we see Jesus (1 Jn. 3:2)! That God understood born again believers would still sin is in the imagery of the two wave loaves used at the Feast of Pentecost which was a picture of the mystery that was to be the Church. In Leviticus 23:17, God's Word says, "Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals (the Church is made up of two groups: Jews and Gentiles): they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven (leaven represents sin throughout the Bible); they are the firstfruits unto the LORD."
Based upon these facts, I strongly suggest that born again believers are not members of a religion, but have become members of God's family; He is our Father and we are His children. We are not trying to impress Him, nor or we afraid of Him. We are simply loved by Him because that is Who He is!