Christianity & Religion…Not Necessarily The Same

There is a great difference between dead, empty RELIGION and CHRISTIANITY. Religion may very well include attending a “Christian” church, but that does not equate Christianity.  For our purposes here, I am trying to communicate that a person may very well be religious, but may, in fact, “miss the boat” when it comes to salvation. While Christianity would certainly be considered a religion, it is to be distinguished as the religion of religions…the Chief of religions…because it is the true religion (James 1:26-27). Christianity is more than following a predetermined set of rules, more than attending a Church building on a given day of the week, and more than having your name on a church role.  You see, many are GOING TO CHURCH but few are GOING DOWN THE ROAD WHICH LEADS TO LIFE (Matt 7:13-14).  There are many that  name the Name of Christ (2 Tim. 2:19) and claim to be Christians, but few that understand what a Christian really is. Many are RELIGIOUS, but few are RIGHT WITH GOD.

The following distinctions may be helpful to you in distinguishing dead, empty Religion and Biblical Christianity:

RELIGION: “Salvation is something I must do. I must somehow earn or gain salvation by the way I live.”
CHRISTIANITY: “Salvation is something only God can do. Salvation is of the LORD!” (Eph. 2:8-9; Jonah 2:9).

RELIGION: Religion is summed up in one word: DO–man trying to DO different things to please God and earn His favor.
CHRISTIANITY: Christianity is summed up in one word: DONE–Christ dying on the cross to save sinful man (John 19:30).

RELIGION: The religious man is busy “working” (doing good works) in order to be saved.
CHRISTIANITY: The saved person is “not working” (Rom. 4:5) but is RESTING upon the finished work of Another.


RELIGION: A Work to Do which is never done (How can anyone work well enough and hard enough to earn salvation?)
CHRISTIANITY: A Word to Believe (1 Pet. 1:25) about a Work that is Done (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

RELIGION: Man hoping to save himself
CHRISTIANITY: God saving hopeless man (1 Tim. 1:15)

RELIGION: RELIGION is man trying to BRING HIMSELF TO GOD (by human effort, good works, ritualism, traditionalism, sacraments, etc.).
CHRISTIANITY: CHRISTIANITY is Christ BRINGING US TO GOD on the basis of what He did for us on the cross (1 Peter 3:18).

RELIGION: Religion is man trusting his own good works (Titus 3:5).
CHRISTIANITY: Salvation is man trusting the good work which the Lord Jesus did on the cross (Rom. 3:22-26).

RELIGION: A religious ritual
CHRISTIANITY: A real relationship (John 17:3)

RELIGION: Following rules
CHRISTIANITY: Enjoying life (John 6:47; 10:10).

RELIGION: “I must reform my life and turn over a new leaf”
CHRISTIANITY: “I must be born again” (John 3:7).

RELIGION: Doing Something
CHRISTIANITY: Knowing Someone (John 17:3)

RELIGION: Man trying to please God in the wrong way (Rom. 8:8–“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”).
CHRISTIANITY: Man truly pleasing God in the only way (Hebrews 11:6–“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”).

RELIGION: Seeking to earn God’s favor by works
CHRISTIANITY: Receiving God’s favor by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8 and see Eph. 1:6).

RELIGION: “I can work my way to heaven and earn my salvation” (Romans 6:23 teaches that we have earned our way to hell: “the wages of sin is death”)
CHRISTIANITY: “I could never live well enough to earn my way to heaven. Christ had to pay the price for my salvation (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).

RELIGION: “Salvation is something that a person must earn.”
CHRISTIANITY: “Salvation is a free gift” (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 4:10).

RELIGION: The sinner sees himself as good (Luke 18:11-12).
CHRISTIANITY: The sinner sees himself as sinful (Luke 18:13).

RELIGION: The religious man compares himself with others (Luke 18:11).
CHRISTIANITY: The saved man sees himself as God sees him (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 53:1-3; Rom. 3:10-12).



RELIGION: “I have kept the law! I have done that which God has required” (Matthew 19:16-20).
CHRISTIANITY: “I have broken the law but I am trusting the One who came into this world to save guilty lawbreakers” (1 Tim. 1:15).

RELIGION: The religious man is seeking to establish his own righteousness (Rom. 10:3).
CHRISTIANITY: The saved man is satisfied with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

RELIGION: Religion is pictured in Genesis 3 by the fig leaves that Adam and Eve made for themselves–a terrible covering (Gen. 3:7 and see Isaiah 64:6).
CHRISTIANITY: Salvation is pictured in Genesis 3 by the coats of skin which God provided by way of the shedding of blood–a perfect covering (Gen. 3:21; Rev. 19:8).

RELIGION: CAIN’S RELIGION–“I bring to God the labour of my own hands” (Gen. 4:3).
CHRISTIANITY: ABEL’S FAITH–“I bring to God a blood sacrifice. An innocent substitute must die to save me” (Gen. 4:4).

RELIGION: Hoping to be saved by good works (a false hope)
CHRISTIANITY: Saved unto good works by God’s grace (Eph. 2:10).

RELIGION: Religion teaches that good works are the cause of salvation.
CHRISTIANITY: The Bible teaches that good works are the result of salvation.

RELIGION: Religion says, “Good works are those things that a person does to be saved.”
CHRISTIANITY: The Bible says, “Good works are those things that a saved person does” (James 2:14-26).

RELIGION: “Christ is my Example and Teacher. I try to follow Him and live as He lived.”
CHRISTIANITY: Christ is my Savior and Substitute. I am trusting Him and only Him to save me” (Luke 23:40-43).

RELIGION: “I hope I will be saved.” “I think I will be saved.” “I feel that I will be saved, maybe.”
CHRISTIANITY: “I KNOW I am saved right now” (1 John 5:13-“These things have I written unto you that believe on to name of the Son of God; that you may KNOW that you have eternal life”).

I hope this has been helpful to you.  To listen to a Contenders Radio episode covering this topic, please click below.


Radio Broadcast of Difference Between Christianity and Religion

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