July 2021

 

Change My Religion?

by Tom McLemore

 

        All of us have felt pressured to change our minds or our behavior on one occasion or another.  It may be that we thought it best to resist the pressure and not change, or we saw the need to change and did so. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I’ll never change my religion” or “Don’t expect me to change my religion”?  Please consider that such an attitude may result in being lost, and in this study I hope to convince you as to why that danger is real.

        Are you willing to consider if you need to change your religion?  How greatly do you desire confidence before God that your religion is right, true, and acceptable?  Those who honestly will examine their religion may have the greatest confidence in it (2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).  Confidence itself is not proof that one’s religion is right, true, and acceptable to God, but a rigorous attempt to bring one’s religion in line with divine revelation is the basis for genuine Christian confidence.

        Are you willing to exhibit the same openness with regard to the rightness, truth, and acceptableness of your religion as you exhibit in other areas of your life?  For instance, if you go to the doctor, are you willing to accept the idea that you may not be well, you may need surgery, or you may need medicine?  Or do you go in and say to the doctor, “Don’t examine me. I’m fine.  If you tell me I am sick, I won’t listen”? 

        Would you describe yourself as infallible, omniscient, superhuman, incapable of misunderstanding, of being deceived, or of being mistaken?  In any area of life?  In religion?  Is everything you and I think and believe true and right according to the Scriptures?  Are we absolutely sure?  Is there a possibility that there is something we may have misunderstood, missed, overlooked, or failed to consider?

         You may need a change from a humanly-contrived religion to divinely-revealed religion (Matthew 15:9).  Can you show New Testament authority for every single thing you believe and practice in religion?  Do you need a change from a self-determined religion to a Bible-based religion?   Does your religion have elements based on “this is what I like,” or is it totally based upon “thus saith the Lord?”

        Do you need a change from a denominational to an undenominational religion?  Undenominational religion is that for which Jesus prayed (John 17:20, 21).  This is the way to be a Christian pure and simple (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16), rather than a particular kind or variety of Christian (of which the New Testament says nothing).

        You may need a change from a secondhand religion to a personal religion.  You may see the need to progress from “I believe this because it is what my preacher, parents, and friends believe, etc.” to “I believe this because I have examined the word of God for myself, and this is what it teaches”).  Remember, your preacher, parents, and friends will not be called to give account for you on judgment day.  Each of us will be required to do that for ourselves (Romans 14:12). 

        Do you need to change from vain religion to pure religion (James 1:26, 27).  What is the difference?  Pure religion is religion of which the proof is in the living.  According to James, it is exemplified by bridling one’s tongue and caring for those who are in need.

        If everything we believe is true and right according to the Scriptures, are we doing what we believe?  Are we living completely by what we believe?  If everything we are doing is true and right according to God’s revelation, could we possibly do it better?  Is there more that I need to know, believe, and do?  And will I need to believe that more deeply and increasingly do that better (Philippians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1)?  It may be that at present we see no call for change, but we must constantly be open to the possibility that a change of one type or another is necessary.

        You may need to change from a nominal or casual religion to a genuine, consecrated religion.  If you are a member of the Lord’s church, are you dedicated to worship, Bible study, prayer, and involvement in the life of the local congregation (Acts 2:42)?  Are you devoted to assembling for worship and encouraging other Christians to be faithful (Hebrews 10:24, 25)?  Are you ready, willing, and able to teach the word of righteousness to others (Hebrews 5:11-14)?

        Practically speaking, you and I may need to change from our present state of religious maturity to a greater religious maturity.  We can never get to the point in religion where no change is necessary (Philippians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Hebrews 6:1-4).

        The revelation of true religion is stationary, fixed.  It is the faith revealed once for all (Jude 3).  The quest is to know and live by that faith.  It will not adjust to us; we must come in line with it.  It is the standard by which we will be judged (John 12:48).

        The task of human beings is to engage in a continual quest for the truth of the New Testament and to come into closer and closer relationship with it.  We must come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).  Jesus urges continuing to receive his teaching (John 8:31, 32).  As we receive more and more of his teaching, it will correct what is incorrect, bring to light the false, and cause the true to emerge.  The Holy Scriptures are profitable for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

        I hope that each of us may be willing to examine his or her religion continually, and whenever and wherever changes are warranted, may we yield reverently to the Lord and make needed changes without delay!

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