Can I suggest that it is time for you to lose your religion? I really mean that. Just go ahead and lose your religion once and for all. Do you think this preacher has lost his mind? Well hang in there with me a minute. I am not advocating that you lose your faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ. Keep your faith, stay plugged into a good local church, but let me explain what I mean.

In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul speaks of rejoicing in Christ Jesus and putting no confidence in the flesh. Paul’s comment on the flesh has a couple of meanings. First, he was alluding to the concept of circumcision. Just because someone had a physical mark on his or her body, it did not mean that this procured favor with God. Paul knew that a marked body did not necessarily give evidence of a marked heart.

The flesh also alludes to our frail human nature that is weak and prone to sin. Our flesh has no ability to save us. This means that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. We cannot gain heaven by ourselves, or be good enough to please God. Paul’s encouragement to “place no confidence in the flesh” means that we should not place confidence in self effort and good works. Instead, we should boast in the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ who loves us and forgives us.

Religion is spelled D-O. Religion is all about what we can do to try to make ourselves right with God. It is a natural, manmade system where humans try to work their way to heaven by being good enough for God. The Bible, however, teaches that there is no work or no human goodness that can make us right with God. We are stuck in sin and in need of God’s grace.

Christianity is different though. Christianity is spelled D-O-N-E. It is not about what we can do, but it is about what Jesus Christ has done for us. Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life. He then died for our sin and rose again so that we might be forgiven and made right with God. Christianity is not about man reaching out to God, it is about God reaching out to man through His Son Jesus Christ. Christianity is about a relationship with God and not a religion.

It was Paul’s desire to put aside all of his self confidence in personal religious achievement so he could simply pursue Jesus Christ: “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:4-8).

All of Paul’s accomplishments had come by birth and by sweat. He once took great pride in his resumé and felt he was a part of the spiritually elite. He came to realize though that it was all nothing more than a smokescreen to actually keep him from God. So Paul lost his religious pride in human effort and works. Instead, He looked to and gained Christ. He no longer trusted in personal status and religious achievement. It was all nothing compared to knowing Jesus.

So what about you? Why don’t you lose your religion and gain Christ? And that’s the Word.

The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at david@sscommunitychurch.org or 634-2960.

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