What’s the difference between religion and spirituality? How do you know when your soul is leaning towards religion when the demands of spirituality arise?
Can you discern when someone is being religious or seeks a deeper relationship with Jesus?
Why was Jesus so upset about the Pharisees’ religion?
For years I was religious but didn’t know it. In fact I could easily point out others that were religious believing I was okay.
That’s the thing about religious people. They never know they’re religious. While some are oblivious to this and believe this is the way to know Jesus, some don’t.
The purpose of this post is to help you tell the difference and make corrections in your heart where necessary.
Religion seeks its own interest above God’s
Although being religious may not start off this way, it always ends this way. We have some examples in the bible like the Pharisees. I don’t believe they were religious from the onset, but over time, it slipped in and they neglected the important part of the law.
When Jesus showed up, they sought to end his life due to envy. But if they loved God, they would have asked him to heal their hearts of envy. But they loved themselves more.
They feared if Jesus became an earthly king, he’d end their reign and they would no longer be recognized. And they didn’t want that.
Their desire for religion above intimacy drove them to kill Jesus.
Spirituality seeks God above all else. Even when your reputation is going down the drain, spirituality triumphs seeking and pleasing God above all else.
An example is the life of David.
When compared to Saul, David outrightly confessed his sins the moment Nathan told him his fault. But Saul did the opposite because He wanted to remain King NOT after God’s heart.
He cherished his reputation as a King above God’s and sought his interest first.
Another example is Judas. Judas spent 3 years of his life with Jesus. Judas wasn’t an ordinary man. He was a disciple. This means he left home and everything he had, he performed miracles and ran errands for Jesus.
He must have performed every religious activity possible and still miss out on the most important thing.
Connecting with Jesus from the heart.
Religion feels uncomfortable when there’s a call to go deeper
Religion is convenient. Why? Because it only affects the external part of your life while neglecting the most important thing God is concerned about.
I could go to church everyday, preach the gospel daily, fast every day, read my bible, decline certain foods, give alms to the poor and say my prayers religiously.
But do you know that none of these will matter if my heart remains the same?
This was exactly what Jesus was trying to tell the Pharisees.
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean alsoMatthew 23:26
It’s so easy to miss out on what God is telling us within and focus on what we can ‘do’ for God. But a child that doesn’t spend time learning his father’s heart will definitely act contrary to his father’s will.
The more I learn about God, the more I discover how he’s much more interested in what’s going on inside me than everything happening without. This is because as a child of God, the goal is to live from the inside out.
The goal has always been the same: To be transformed into the image of the Son. And we can only transform as we keep following Jesus and doing His will above ours. We must desire to know him more everyday of our lives.
For as many as are LED by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God.Romans 8:14
Religion restricts God from being your ONE thing ONLY
The difference between religion and spirituality is that Religion treats God like something abstract while Spirituality seeks to become One with God. In religion, God is seen as a being without an animated personality or feelings who just needs your sacrifice while ignoring the heart behind it.
Remember Cain and Abel’s sacrifice?
God is perceived as a being that you can give him a part of your life while you continue with yours.
In the past, I’d do everything that was required of me. I wasn’t wearing earrings or trousers and this made me feel more righteous than everyone else who wasn’t doing the same. I was also a worker in church. These external activities made me feel I was doing God a favour but I was just an ignorant person who knew nothing about God.
I was born again, but I felt those attributes earned me points in heaven.
My heart was a mess. In fact if my heart was a house, you’d be scared to step in. I was so judgemental, moody and often fell into depression when I was alone. It was easy to be suspicious of people because I was taught wrongly about God. But externally, I acted like everything was fine.
A spiritual person isn’t afraid to love as Christ loves regardless of the outcome. A spiritual person seeks to go deeper with God and learn new things about God.
Although God’s wisdom MUST guide us accordingly when making friends and making choices, the goal is to keep tuning in to God’s voice.
Because the more we yield to God, the more He takes over our lives and our decisions.
You cannot be opinionated and be a Christian. You have to choose one. This is because the closer you come to God, the more you die to your own way of doing things and submit to God’s own way, however slow or ‘foolish’ it makes you look or feel.
Religion depends on letter above spirit
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life2Corinthians3:6
The Pharisees were focused on the letter ABOVE the spirit behind the letter and missed Jesus in the process.-John 5:39.
The difference between religion and spirituality is that religion makes easy to discard the HolySpirit’s voice when he comes knocking on the door of your heart. But spirituality is solely dependent on the revelatory word of God.
Let me explain.
Have you ever encountered a scripture in the bible that felt complex but the next time you revisit that same scripture, the words jump out at you and reveal the next step to take in life?
Or perhaps you’ve been in a situation where you’re about to do something but scripture is illuminated and the HolySpirit then guides you on how to react to a certain situation. That’s living by the revelation of the word of God.
Sometimes, it illuminates a scripture in the word that points to Christ. When it points to Christ, it unveils his manner of life before you and convicts you of how to live a better life that’s pleasing unto God.
Jesus lived by the revelatory word of God. While we are to live our lives based on the Bible, we still need the author (God’s Spirit) to illuminate it so we can translate it to our daily lives.
The more you spend time engaging with the word the better you become.
It’s so easy to discard the revelatory word of God and do what we think is right. But the HolySpirit is customized to each and everyone of us because we’re unique and he meets us according to how we are made.
He’s the perfect Doctor with the perfect prescription for our souls.
It’s easy to slip into religion when reading the bible or getting to know God. But we must always remind our hearts to keep panting after Christ. For He alone can satisfy us.
Bloom with Love. Xx!