Some people talk about getting religion as if it could be obtained in a similar fashion as one might get a contagious disease such as chicken pox. Religion is what a person does or does not do rather than something caught. James, by inspiration, declared, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Jam. 1:27). By that passage, we learn that the individual is responsible to keep his or her religious endeavors pure and undefiled. This is accomplished by what we do and do not do. The Bible teaches both positive and negatively concerning the Christian religion. Titus 2:11-14 is a good example of this type of teaching. That passage is as follows:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
In defining the word religion, the main body of the word, “ligion” means to bind together. The prefix “re” carries the concept of repetition. Hence, the word religion means to bind back. Using that word in reference to God and man, it means to bring man back to God. The human race, in the persons of Adam and Eve, was in fellowship with God until sin separated man from God. Every human being, who has reached the mental state of accountability before God, does not enter into a lost state until he sins. It is at that time that an individual’s own sins separate him from God (Isa. 59:1-2). When a person sins, that person is out of harmony with the will of the Heavenly Father. The progress of bringing anyone into harmony with God is called reconciliation. Our Lord does not need to be brought into harmony with us, but rather we need to be reconciled unto Him.
Consider the following words of the apostle Paul:
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:18-21).
Phraseology such as “to get religion,” “to profess religion,” and “to experience religion” depicts a misunderstanding of God’s means of bringing a soul back into harmony with His will. As already brought out, the religion of the Heavenly Father requires involvement on our part. It is not a mystical act of the Holy Spirit upon our spiritual heart to convert us. The inspired Word was given unto mankind for that purpose. James urges us to “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jam. 1:21-22).