The Problem with Organized Religion

Text: Ephesians 4:11-12, 16, 22-24

Many people today disparage “organized religion.” Instead, they just want a “personal relationship” with Jesus. However, this is not an “either-or” proposition. In our service to God, we have personal and corporate responsibilities. In this lesson, we will discuss these responsibilities and notice what the real problem is with “organized religion.”

Religion Must Be Personal

  • Simply being recognized as a member of a congregation does not mean we are saved (Matthew 13:24-30; Revelation 3:1-4)
  • We are individually accountable before the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:10) – we must examine ourselves to be sure we are right before Him (2 Corinthians 13:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:27)
  • We need to be sure we are doing what the Lord wants us to do (Matthew 7:21-27) – regardless of what others do or do not do, we must do what we should (James 1:27)

Religion Must Have a Corporate Element

  • Corporate – “of, relating to, or formed into a unified body of individuals” (Merriam-Webster); as it pertains to the NT, this means that our religion must include being part of a local congregation
  • While it is true that we are individually accountable, that does not mean we are to be isolated – we have a responsibility to be part of a local body of Christians (Acts 9:26); this is for our mutual benefit (Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25; Ephesians 4:16)
  • There are also certain things we are to do together as a local church – worship (Acts 20:7; Colossians 3:16); giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-2); teaching (Ephesians 4:11-12; 2 Timothy 2:2); encouraging (Hebrews 10:24-25); discipline (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)

What Is the Problem?

  • The problem is not with “organized religion” itself – when people attack this, they are attacking the wrong problem
  • False religion – often when people attack “organized religion,” it is not the Lord’s church they are attacking; Jesus built one church (Matthew 16:18), but there are many churches of men; yet to the world, all these churches are the same; we need to be able to show the difference between the Lord’s church and all others
  • Wrong expectations – there are many things that people expect from churches today (ex: social activities, political advocacy, charity, education, etc.); these are not what the Lord wants His church to do (1 Timothy 3:15; Matthew 7:22-23)
  • Imperfect people – Christians are to be different from the world (Romans 12:2); but Christians are not sinlessly perfect (1 John 1:8, 10); sometimes people attack the church because of the people in the church; we need to strive to give no cause for offense (2 Corinthians 6:3; 1 Peter 2:11-12); we also need to make it clear that the church is for those who are imperfect (Matthew 9:13)


  • We have responsibilities as individuals in our service to the Lord
  • We also have responsibilities collectively within our local churches
  • Organized religion is good when it is the organization the Lord established (Matthew 16:18) and when His church is functioning according to His will (Ephesians 5:23-24)
  • Rather than attacking “organized religion,” we need to be attacking false or man-made religion
  • We must strive to serve the Lord faithfully as a member of His church

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