Only an Appearance of Religion

Text: Amos 4:1-5

I.         When you look at the religious world, there are many odd ideas about what constitutes a religious person.

II.        Exhibitionism as Religion

            A.        Some people judge how religious a man is by the religious things that he does in public

                        1.         Matthew 6:1-6 - Some people make sure everyone notices when they are acting out their religion.

                        2.         Instead of seeking to please God, they seek after the things that please men - Galatians 1:10

            B.        Our religion is not to be a hidden thing where no one would ever have guessed that you are a Christian - Matthew 5:14-17

            C.        But our religion’s prime motivation is not for others to see us.

                        1.         Others see us while we are doing God’s work, our goal is pleasing God, not man.

                        2.         Man will glorify the God who sends His servants on such missions.

                        3.         Even if no one else saw, we would still behave the same.

            D.        The Pharisees preformed the deeds of God, but they made sure others noticed them - Matthew 23:5

                        1.         It was a religion of appearance only - Matthew 23:14, 28

                        2.         They sought the glory of other men - John 5:44

III.       Sensuality as Religion

            A.        The pagan religions were known for their use of sensual desires to attract worshipers.

                        1.         Fertility gods and goddesses. Gods of drink and pleasures.

                        2.         It is a religion only in form, but its focus is on the world, but God is a spirit.

            B.        Those who pervert Christianity will stoop to such means.

                        1.         II Peter 2:12-15, 18-19 - Using sensuality as an enticement

                        2.         II Timothy 3:2-7 - Holding only a form of godliness.

IV.      Self-Abasement as Religion

            A.        There are religions that glorify self-denial. In a sense, the opposite of those who pursue the pleasures of the senses.

                        1.         We somehow gain the idea that denying yourself is religious.

            B.        The Jews fasted, but it was for themselves and not for God - Matthew 6:16-18

            C.        A fraud to delight in self-abasement - Colossians 2:18-19

                        1.         So much here reminds me of Catholicism: religious denial, worship of angels, seeing visions inflated by a worldly mind.

                        2.         If we belong to Christ, these things do not make sense - Colossians 2:20-23

                        3.         It is only an appearance of religion. It is not a religion of God, but of man.

                        4.         Notice that such severe treatment does not have any value against sin.

                                    a.         It brings to mind the priests who deny themselves marriage, but are frequently caught in sexual sins.

                                    b.         Their vows of chastity is of man and will not help in the battle against sin.

            D.        It is a doctrine of demons - I Timothy 4:1-5

V.        Holding on to the pattern

            A.        Retain the pattern, follow the standard of sound words - II Timothy 1:13-14

            B.        We became Christians by obeying that form of teaching - Romans 6:17

                        1.         “Form” is a pattern, a die struck to stamp coins with the same pattern

                        2.         It makes exact duplicates

            C.        Christians are to live by the same standard - Philippians 3:17

            D.        Those who follow the standard become a pattern for others

                        1.         II Thessalonians 3:7-9 - The example of Paul and his friends.

                                    a.         This is the same word translated form in Romans 6:17

                                    b.         We set examples, by following God’s pattern

                        2.         I Timothy 4:12 - Timothy was to show himself as an example

                        3.         Titus 2:7-8 - Titus was to show himself as an example

                        4.         I Peter 5:3 - Elders are to prove to be an example

                        5.         All of these passages use the same Greek word of a pattern struck by a die.

            E.        True religion comes by duplicating the pattern laid down by God. It might not match man’s expectation of religion, but then God is not a man.