What is the difference between being religious and genuinely converted to Christ? If you could name one marked contrast between the two what would it be?
The other day while I was on face book, I came across a post that had a list of practices that were considered ungodly by the poster. It was a rather long list of rules and regulations that in the poster's mind if practiced by any person would disqualify that person from being a follower of Christ.
The list caught my attention because of some of the things that were on the list. Now let me state for the record, I knew what I was going to be dealing with as soon as I posted an objection to any of the ungodly, abominable, sin-filled practices which were set forth by the poster.
But I was feeling like having a little fun so I indulged myself. I posted that I myself practice some of the ungodly, abominable practices that he had listed. Out of his extensive list I'll give you what I told him that I practice in my heathen life.
The first thing that I noted was that I listen to music other than "christian music," yes, the heathen that I'm, can you imagine that? Next, I noted that from time to time I even can be found imbibing some sort of liquid. I noted that I find no prohibition in Scripture against drinking alcohol, just warnings against drunkenness.
I then went on to note that you might even find my family and myself at the beach on a nice hot summer day, and yes, even wearing bathing suits. This one really set off the poster of the rules and regulations, it seemed to be the "mother of all sins." He went on to say that I was making my wife out to be a whore and that I was eternally condemned to hell fire.
With that being said let me get back to the original question: "What is the difference between being religious and genuinely converted to Christ? Let me share one small story as told by our Savior in the gospel of Luke chapter 18: 9-14.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Let's look at how our Savior describes these two men who went to the Temple to pray.
1. He looked down on others
2. He was confident in his own character and righteousness.
3. He stood up ---a particular commentary notes this about the Pharisee standing up----he said over to himself what he had done, and what was the ground on which he expected the favor of God.
4. He prayed about himself, bringing to God all his human works of religiosity.
5.He compared himself to others---note not to God, but to other men.
1. He stood at a distance as he prayed.---being conscious of his unworthiness to approach the sacred place where God had his holy habitation.
2. He would not look up---a sign of submission and humility.
3. He beat upon his chest---An expression of grief and anguish in view of his sins. It is a sign of grief among almost all nations.
4. He asks God for mercy---This is the prayer of a sinner, realizing that he was poor, helpless, and in need of God' mercy.
So now I ask again: "What is the difference between being religious and genuinely converted to Christ? If you could name one marked contrast between these two men what would it be?