by James Merritt

How Real Is Your Religion?
James Merritt
James 1:26-27


1. A well meaning church member was going door-to- door in his neighborhood, trying to talk to people about the Lord. One lady came to the door, and he said, ''Ma'am, would you like to dedicate your life to God?'' She said, ''Goodness no, I am miserable enough with the religion I've got. Please don't ask me to get any more.''

2. That lady, like a lot of people, had a religion that was superficial, but not supernatural. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, said, ''I like my religion the way I like my tea-I like it hot.'' There certainly is a difference between real religion, which is supernatural, and false religion, which is superficial.

3. Real religion brings liberty-false religion brings bondage.
Real religion gives life-false religion gives death.
Real religion glorifies God-false religion deifies man.
Real religion warms the soul-false religion freezes the heart.

4. You see, religion can be both bad and good. Wars have been fought, families have been split, people have been murdered in the name of religion. When Iran was fighting against Iraq, there was a report on Iranian suicide squads that were trained to clear mine fields; the motivation to volunteer for this duty, laying the assurance that death and such an endeavor would guarantee the person immediate entrance into heaven, each recruit even wore a ''key to heaven'' around his neck. They would march together across a mine-strewn battlefield, believing that their death would take them to glory.[1]

5. The word ''religion'' literally means ''the outward appearance of a religious ritual.'' James makes a startling statement. Real religion is found not so much inside the church, as it is outside the church. Real religion is not just praying to God in church on Sunday, it is living for God in the world on Monday. Real religion is the outworking of an in- working God. James proceeds to give us three marks of real ...

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