Sent in by Dan J. Cheever
“He’s religious” One definition of religious is: “treated or regarded with a devotion and scrupulousness (conformity to high standards of ethics or excellence) appropriate to worship.” To some, saying those words about someone is meant to be complimentary. To others, it’s said to warn others to stay as far away from that person as possible. I do not wish to be known as someone who’s religious because too many horrific things have been done in the name of religion. Religion is a hindrance, a diversion, even a destructive fabrication of man. I believe the Bible speaks about this very thing. Consider Jesus’ words in:
Matthew 15:7-9 (NKJV)
Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:  ‘ These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Isaiah 29:13)
Mark 7:3-4 (NKJV)
For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.  When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
Jesus was making a comparison – either we can choose to be religious and hold on to the commandments of men, the traditions of men and have our hearts be far from Him and worship Him in vain or we can choose to do as His disciples did (and expect religious people of our day to judge and make false accusations of us, which by the way, is what satan often does – that’s why satan is referred to in Scripture as the accuser of the brethren) and follow the leading of Jesus Christ through the indwelling of His Spirit within us (trusting God, believing that He is worthy of our faith), concerning ourselves with only His commandments and His will.
Galatians 3:10-11 (NKJV)
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”  But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”
Galatians 3:10-11 makes it clear that those who are under the law (trying to please God by legalism – excessive adherence to law or formula or being “religious”) are under the curse, not because the law is evil, but because men simply will not fulfill all the righteous demands of the law, and hence will be in violation of it! Paul’s point in the Galatians passage is that there simply is no way for man to keep the law in its entirety. Not only is this true of the Law of Moses, but any law that man might create – ironically, we don’t even live up to our own standards! So, this is a very powerful point – legalism brings condemnation and a curse, while faith in the One who “justifies the ungodly” (notice it is the ungodly that are justified – not the self-righteous) brings righteousness! Christ is our Justifier because He fulfilled the Law.
Romans 8:8 (NKJV)
So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 (NKJV)
Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;  for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
1 Peter 4:14 (NKJV)
If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
Romans 12:1-2 (AMP)
I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies presenting all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world (this age), fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs, but be transformed (changed) by the entire renewal of your mind by its new ideals and its new attitude, so that you may prove for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in His sight for you.
Dan J. Cheever