Are You Practicing Toxic Religion?

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Reading Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel has made me think about how I view my faith and how I practice my faith.

What have I added to the gospel? This is one of the questions running through my mind while reading this chapter. Many things we deem important are merely cultural norms created many years ago.

There are many Pharisees running around in churches today, and sometimes I probably am one too. However, God’s amazing grace forgives us when we twist His gospel into something it is not.

Are you practicing toxic religion or living the pure gospel? [Click to TWEET]

This excerpt is from Chapter 12 entitled Religion Gone Bad: Tossing Out Moldy Legalism, Spoiled Churches, and Sour Christians.

“Remember the story Jesus told about the Pharisee and the tax collector? The self-righteous religious Pharisee stood boldly in the synagogue and proclaimed, “Look how righteous I am! I do all these good things. Thank God I’m not like that no-good tax collector.” Jesus never stood for that kind of religious pride. To make his point, Jesus continued his story: “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ “ (Luke 18:13). Instead of having pride in himself, this repentant tax collector cried out to God for mercy.

Certainly Jesus stunned his listeners with such an unexpected twist: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14). In essence, Christ took his robes of righteousness and covered the tax collector’s sins, just as he does with yours and mine today.

Toxic religion tries to add extra buttons, patches, and badges to the perfect and completed garment of Christ’s righteousness. Religion is Christ plus anything. In Galatia, some thought it was Christ plus circumcision. In our world, it might be Christ plus church membership. Or Christ plus tithing. Or Christ plus “the right” doctrine or theology. But the gospel is Christ plus nothing. The final work of Christ on the cross is everything we need. To be made right with God, we only believe in his Son. By faith we enter a relationship with God through his risen Son, Jesus.

Contrast toxic religion with the pure gospel. Religion is all about what I do. The gospel is all about what Jesus has done. Religion is about me. The gospel is about Jesus. Religion highlights my efforts to do what is right. The gospel highlights what Christ has already done. Religion lures me to believe that if I obey God, he will love me. But the gospel shows me that because God loves me, I get to obey him. Religion puts the burden on us. We have to do what is right. A relationship with Christ puts the burden on him. And because of what he did for us, we get to do what is right. Instead of an obligation, our right living is a response to his gift.

Giving Christ our whole lives is the only reasonable response to such love. There’s nothing more we need to do.


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About Joyce Glass

Joyce Glass is a writer, speaker, and lover of God's word even more than chocolate! Her desire is to encourage you to walk closer to God. Dig deeper in your faith. Pray in earnest daily for God to teach you His ways, and serve Him right where you live and work now.


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