Religious or Born-again

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In today’s world, many call themselves Christians, but how can we know the difference between a Religious Christian and a Born-again Christian? Today, we will take a look at two examples Scripture gives us and how we can discern the difference between a Religious Christian and a Born-again Christian.

The Merriam-Websters dictionary defines the word Christian as, “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ”. The Bible states in James 2:19 that “demons believe also and tremble”. In Jesus’ time, there were religious leaders of Jerusalem called Pharisees who knew Scripture better than anyone in their times. These Pharisees, were hypocrites who hated the teachings of Christ because it went against their traditions, making them feel like they were losing power over the people. Jesus warned us against these types of spiritual leaders. The type of leaders who put heavy burdens on people who they themselves are not willing to carry. You could think, how is this possible if they knew the Word and led the people? Matthew 23:3-4 tells us; “Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they will not move them with one of their fingers.” Being religious and keeping the traditions of man will make you judgmental and pull you far from God and His mercy.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:7-8; “these people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” Ask yourself how a religious person could worship God, but their hearts be far from Him? The Bible again tells us, that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). The Pharisees were angry if anyone didn’t keep their traditions expecting people to again do as they say. Making them judgmental to the point of almost deciding who was worthy of going to heaven and who was not, but we know this is for God to decide and not man.

A born-again Christian is defined in the Merriam-Websters dictionary as one with a “renewed or confirmed commitment of faith.” In John 3:1-3 it tells us of a Pharisee named Nicodemus who was different from the rest of the spiritual leaders who knew Jesus was sent from God because of the many signs and wonders that followed Him. Jesus told Nicodemus in v.3- “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus didn’t understand, and humbly asked Jesus to tell him the truth; “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Nicodemus was a man who had a heart for God. He did not think about his social status or care about what people might think or say but asked on behalf of many who wonder the same thing today. Nicodemus had a renewed hope that put all his traditions to rest.

This is how we can distinguish a religious person from a born-again believer. The Gospel is simple, but we make it difficult for people to enter by imposing numerous rules. Remember, Jesus didn’t come to establish a religion. He came to bring true life. All He wants is our heart (Proverbs 23:26). By giving Him our heart, we undergo an inward transformation and develop a new desire to know the Lord as the Scriptures teach.


Sources Cited

Merriam-Websters online dictionary.