What People Want and Don’t Want in Religion

Text: Colossians 2:20-23

Paul describes certain practices that fall under the category of “self-made religion,” or “will worship” (KJV). This is worship according to the will of man. People often want to be religious because it satisfies their conscience. But they want to be religious on their terms, not God’s. So in this lesson, we will examine some things that people want and don’t want in religion.

They Want a Savior

  • So they look to Jesus – He is the Savior sent by the Father (1 John 4:14; John 3:16)
  • He is the only Savior (Acts 4:12) – so most people looking for a Savior look to Jesus
  • They want a Savior, but they don’t want to be saved His way – they want to be saved their way
  • Many want to be saved by faith alone (James 2:24, 26) – they don’t want a Savior who would require anything of them (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • Others think that just being a good person should save – they don’t want to have to obey the gospel (Mark 16:16)

They Want to be Religious

  • Many people want to be religious – Paul noted the religious behavior of the Athenians (Acts 17:22)
  • Throughout history, people of every culture have had some form of religion – some way to explain & respond to the “invisible attributes” of God found in Creation (Romans 1:20)
  • They want to be religious, but they don’t want to follow God’s law
  • They want to live free from any religious law (James 1:22-25)
  • In worship, they don’t want to be bound to the religious practices prescribed in the word of God (John 4:24)
  • In doing good works, they want to define these as they see fit, not look to what God defines as “good works” in His word (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

They Want Christ

  • Jesus, as the Christ, was the one whom the Jews were awaiting (John 11:27)
  • The old law pointed to Him (Galatians 3:24)
  • They want Christ, but they don’t want His church – even though the church was part of the “eternal purpose” to be carried out in Christ (Ephesians 3:10-11)
  • Christ & His church are inseparable from one another (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23)
  • Paul used the husband/wife analogy to describe the relationship between Christ & the church (Ephesians 5:24) – principle: we must not separate what God has joined together (Matthew 19:6)

They Want Jesus as Their Lord

  • Most religious people we come in contact with will claim Jesus as their Lord
  • But to them, “Lord” is little more than a title – they forget the meaning of the word
  • They want Jesus as their Lord, but they don’t want to submit to His authority – “Lord” means that Jesus has the right to rule; authority (Matthew 28:20)
  • Therefore, we must not just call Him Lord, but we must obey Him as Lord (Luke 6:46)
  • All that we do in religion must be by His authority (Colossians 3:17) – according to what He commanded, not what we claim to be in His name (Matthew 7:21-23)
  • We will be judged by how we live according to His word (John 12:48)

(Adapted from an outline by Tim Haile.)


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