So what do you think—has religion changed? I have suggested that people operating in the flesh take the things of the Lord into their flesh system and make religion.
The things God gave for the good of humankind, because of His love, were twisted into rules of behavior upon which people would be judged. Faith and relationship mattered little because of the system. The religious person who kept the rules would be judged on the basis of his obedience. This was the system Jesus exposed.
The Pharisees were the epitome of this system. They were the separatists, the legalists, of their day. They made rules to keep people from breaking rules so they had to keep the commandments of God. Yet, they built loopholes for themselves so they wouldn’t be burdened by the system. But, even without the corruption, this was never what God intended. He had given good things for the good of the people.
So now we are in the Christian era. We know those old Jewish rules aren’t for us. But we have new things. The child who can memorize Scripture is considered spiritual no matter what he does to the other kids during break time. The elder who can pray with eloquence is spiritual even though he cheats the employees of his business. The mother who serves faithfully in the church is spiritual even when she uses her connections to gossip. The corruption certainly hasn’t gone away.
Nor has the ability to twist the good things of God. The flesh continues to incorporate the things of God in its attempt to find spiritual success. Bible memory, faithful giving, worship attendance—these are things that are used to judge spirituality even today. Not bad things, but things misused by the flesh.
The point is that religion is the flesh’s substitute for a relationship with the Lord. The Lord loves us and wants us to walk with Him. The flesh cannot understand that walk, but tries to create something similar.
It is particularly sad that so many preachers and teachers and churches have been focused on the flesh’s religion for so long. Religious flesh is still flesh.
Religion hasn’t changed.