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The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 7 of 10

June 23, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 7 of 10

Religion says, I’m focused on external things. I care about the visible things a person does.

Gospel says, Don’t overlook the internal, invisible life of the heart where true motives lie.

To people in love with religion, how one appears on the outside before people is far more important than how they appear on the inside to God. Generally speaking, depending how much unbiblical kool-aid a person has consumed, religious people never allow themselves to appear overweight, disorganized, lazy, or even sinful. They have a hard time confessing their sins to their spouse and children because to confess sin would be to admit that their external, visible life is out of order. This would destroy their precious image they invested years into, but they’re not fooling God. He sees who they really are.

The Gospel is concerned FIRST with our inner self. Colossians 3:5 is incredibly helpful saying, Put to death what is earthly in you. God alone knows my heart and He tells me that the key to spiritual life is to put to death what is sinful inside of me.

For application purposes, if the Gospel is my compass, and not religion, then I won’t labor so hard to appear as a godly and righteous man on the outside but will humbly confess my sin and live in repentance. Only then will I be changed on the inside, which will naturally lead to change on the outside.

Religion likes to look good, Gospel likes to be good. Gospel wins. 7 in a row.


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 97-98


June 23, 2010 - Posted by | Zach |


  1. Zach,
    Just wanted to thank you for the boxing match series. I always want to comment..but then I don’t. But, I do want you to know I look forward to reading them- they can be quite convicting- even though I don’t consider myself “religious” – There is ALWAYS room for improvement when trying to be more like Jesus! The gospel sure has a way of pointing that out!

    Comment by Jamie Stump | June 23, 2010 | Reply

  2. Good stuff Zach.
    We need to constantly examine our hearts. We live by the motto, “no harm, no foul” as if just because we didn’t follow through with our evil intentions, somehow the sin in our hearts is less evil. Jesus said that murder is sin and that hating your brother is murder! We are all too happy to live as whitewashed tombs. Oh Lord, examine my heart.

    Comment by Larry | June 24, 2010 | Reply

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