Finding the way to Heaven.
The most common characteristic in all false religion is the ability to progress through works. Sometimes it involves praying, fasting, or complicated rituals. Some false religion encourages horrifying forms of self-abasement. They do these things to please their god, or improve their spiritual condition. The goal is common, regardless of the form it takes: self-improvement.
Working to be pleasing to God is nothing new, and we can find the roots to such practices in the way Cain offered his sacrifice. Remember, the ground was cursed, and God said that only “In toil you will eat of it”, and “by the sweat of your face you will eat bread” (Gen 3:18,19, NASB). The ground would only produce fruit through hard labors and toils. This is what Cain chose to bring before the Lord, and why Cain’s offering was rejected; it was the very essence of works-based effort to please God.
By contrast, Christianity is faith-based. Abel “brought of the firstlings of his flock” (Gen 4:4, NASB). This required no work on Abel’s part. Abel was simply returning to God what God Himself already made. This is what the Lord is pleased with. Scripture repeatedly confirms this, through Abraham, who said that “God will provide for Himself the lamb” (Gen 22:8, NASB), and ultimately, Jesus Christ.
At the root of false religion is pride. Brick upon brick, the laborers of the Tower of Babel were building their way to heaven. The attitude in which these people were constructing the tower stated in scripture, they wanted to “build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name” (Gen 11:4, NASB). They wanted to make a name for themselves and raise themselves, even to heaven. This should start sounding distinctly like our Adversary.
Remember, Jesus said “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt 11:30, NASB). False religions, including false religions that bear the name “Christian” have laden their converts with many religious tasks. These people often have a great zeal for what they’re doing, some even appear to be well meaning. Unfortunately, they are still rooted in self-effort and likewise, pride.
However, scripture records that these are the ones most likely to persecute those who love God. Cain and the Pharisees sought to kill their brothers because their brother’s actions were righteous. When you take away whatever it is the religious person is trusting in and regard it as either insufficient or unnecessary, you’re touching on the same nerve that Jesus touched on with the Pharisees, repeatedly.
I’m not suggesting that works are evil, by no means. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph 2:10, NASB). Good works are part of the Christian walk. Trusting those things as a means to bribe God is what I am rejecting here.
To illustrate the fallacy of working your way to heaven, imagine we’re at the scene in the desert where the Tower of Babel was being built. Brick after brick was being laid up. The men are sweating, working day and night. But as they laid their bricks, if only they had known that all the while, Jacob’s Ladder, by faith was already there, stretching into heaven…
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Richard Swartz, entered the world in Lakeland, Florida, will be departing the world in Jesus Christ. He loves writing about his true passion — the Messiah and life in Him. He writes and maintains his own Christian blog titled Through Heavenly Eyes, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.