In our day, unlike in the days of generations past, we have much too simplistic a view of what it means to believe something. In the world today, many people use the word "believe" to describe their feelings about something or describe a fleeting wish or hopeful desire. But as we consider the word belief, or faith, in its fullest biblical sense, we see that the word implies God's gracious act of giving and our humble act of receiving and resting on Christ alone, which involves our entire being: the heart, the mind, and the will.
Although we use the word belief in conjunction with all areas of human experience, usually when we use the word it is in the context of religious belief. The word "religious," however, and all its derivatives, has fallen on hard times recently due largely to its longtime inappropriate use among those who understood neither the true Christian religion nor the genuine relationship with Christ by faith alone on which all Christian doctrine is established. Thus, preferring to emphasize their personal relationship with Christ over and against the religion that comes as a necessary and appropriate consequence of that relationship, many Christians, with the best intentions, have relegated their faith to one area of life rather than allowing their faith to overflow into every area of life, which is the essential nature of faith itself--to encompass all of life by acknowledging, affirming, and applying the Christian doctrine we believe, confess, and proclaim.
In the New Testament, James (1:22-25) repudiates the "worthless" religion of those who are merely "hearers" of the Word without being actual "doers" of the Word, writing, If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:26-27).
James' point is simple--if our mouths (v. 26) and our lives (v. 22) do not demonstrate the authenticity of pure and undefiled religion then we are simply deceiving ourselves and deceiving our hearts (vv. 22, 26).
Continue reading Faith vs. Religion? by Burk Parsons.