This question can be answered both with a yes and a no. It is possible to be very religious and yet not know God. When that is the case, being religious or having religion is of no value whatsoever. If you look at the Pharisees, you see people who had religion but did not know Jesus. They were very strict and faithfully observed the law, but they did not trust in Jesus for their salvation (Matthew 23:13,25). They also did not understand God’s heart, but they were hard of heart (Mark 3:1-6). So in that sense, you could say that one can do without religion because it will leave your heart unchanged. If religion is self-made religion, it won’t help you (Colossians 2:23).
God is our creator
But if having no religion means you do not believe in God, that you don’t love Him or you do not want to follow Him, then it is not okay. The Bible tells us that God is our Creator (Genesis 1:27) and He wants us to know Him and worship Him. Moreover, we can really know Him through Jesus Christ, because He is the way to God – He is God Himself (John 14:6). With Jesus at the center of your belief, religion is not dead but gives life and salvation!
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul gives a list of wonderful qualities, like speaking in tongues, prophecy, understanding, even faith. But without love, they mean nothing. What kind of love is he talking about? Paul refers to love for God and for our neighbor – in fact, the commandment Jesus gave us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37,39). Jesus also gave us the Golden Rule: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12,13) The heart of true religion is love, and this will also result in obedience to Jesus and his commands: “If anyone loves me (Jesus), he will keep my word” (John 14:23).
James has a very straightforward comment on true religion that is perfectly in line with what Jesus taught: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27)
In short: self-made religion is worthless. True religion means loving God and obeying Him.
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