ODJ: bad religion

October 8, 2014 

READ: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view (v.16).

In his landmark books Soul Searching and Souls in Transition, sociologist Christian Smith surveyed American young adults and found that most held to what he called “Therapeutic Moralistic Deism”. They’re deists because they believe God doesn’t interfere in our lives unless we need His help to solve a problem. They’re moralistic because they believe God wants us to be good and kind to each other. And their view is therapeutic because it makes them feel good about themselves.

Their view of God can be summed up in this erroneous thinking: I am starring in the role of God because I determine what goodness is required for heaven and then determine that I meet this criterion. I am free to live as I please, all the while believing there is a deity who believes in me.

But as all of us will find out the moment we die, we’re not God. God has a true standard of holiness and love (1 Peter 1:16; 1 John 4:8), and He can’t be satisfied with anything less than perfection.

This starting point is essential for understanding the gospel. As Paul explained to the Corinthians, God the Father met this high standard when He gave His Son, “who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Together, God the Father and God the Son sent the Spirit, who made us into a new creation. “The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (v.17).

With the Spirit’s help we will grow in holiness and self-giving love, which God says is what true religion has always been about: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (James 1:27).

—Mike Wittmer

365-day plan› Acts 2:14-40

Read James 1:19-2:26 to learn what true religion looks like. 
Do you know anyone whose religion is “therapeutic moralistic deism”? How might you begin to lead that person to Jesus?