Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 21, 1963
NUMBER 29, PAGE 4,10b

Your Religion --- And You


Much has been written in recent years about what men have done to Christianity, how they have changed and perverted the gospel of Christ, giving new "interpretations" to ancient truths, new "applications" to long established principles, and claiming new "insights" into the word of God which make a caricature of the most deeply cherished convictions of our common heritage and hope. It was known from the very beginning that such things would be and that such teachers would arise. The cunning mind of unregenerate man has never been content to leave God's word and God's message alone; from that long ago day in the Garden of Eden when the serpent twisted a divine utterance to this present hour perversions and distortions have been with us.

But there is another side to this coin worthy of thought. If it be true that man has twisted and turned the revelation of God so as to make it more pleasing to his desires, it is an inevitable corollary of such an attitude that man himself is turned into something altogether different from what he would be had the simple gospel had its way. It is important to know what man is doing to his religion — but it is equally important to know what man's religion is doing to him! Let every reader take an inner look into his own heart, and search with an honest desire for the truth. What is your religion doing to you? It does strange things to different people. For instance, probably all of us have known some man who is kindly and charitable in all his dealings with others, who is honest, scrupulously fair, and truthful in every particular — until he gets into a "church fight"! Then his sense of fairness, his love for truth, his innate scorn for littleness take wings and flee. He becomes uncharitable, embittered, unable to see any evil at all in his supporters, or any good at all in the opposition. At the very time he needed it most, his religion deserted him. Something had been awry all along and it needed only the pressure of conflict to reveal it. His religion had NOT been making him over into the kind of man he thought it was; only the outer facade was fair and winsome. Some vital element was lacking; these principles of truth and love and fairness which he upheld with his lips, and which seemed to be developing in his very soul were really not 'getting through'; they were staying only on the surface. His religion was not "taking."

All of us have had tragic opportunity these past few years to see just how serious and how wide the gap can be between what a man professes to be and what he really is under pressure. As controversies have arisen among God's people all over the nation we have seen bitterness, hatred, dishonesty and "littleness" enough to bring nausea even to the hardened veteran of church fights. It is perfectly obvious that many people had been developing into characters altogether unlovely and undesirable through the years when they believed they were becoming Christ-like. But it is impossible to tamper with God's word, even in trivial matters, without suffering irreparable damage to one's own character in return. What you do to your religion returns with a vengeance to your own head in what your religion does to you!

If one finds bitterness filling his heart, or anxiety, or fear, or any one of a score of other unChristian emotions or attitudes, he should realize that his "religion" is not truly the religion of Christ. He may be as orthodox as Paul himself in his verbal declarations of what he believes; but his heart is not educated; his soul had shriveled and shrunk. The great and noble truths he may be mouthing with his lips have somehow not registered in his soul. His religion has done something horrible to his character. Hatred toward any human being is a deadly and corrosive thing: it cannot be entertained in the heart without doing terrible damage to the one who harbors it. No matter how worthy of contempt may be the antagonist, for one's own sake hatred must be eliminated. It cannot be nurtured and fed.

It is important that the very words of the gospel of Christ be guarded and defended, and that no false teacher be given one single bit of liberty to pervert and wrest the divine revelation. But it is equally important to YOU that those words of holy truth be something more than mere "words" which you have memorized and to which you give mental assent. They must go into the heart, molding your life, forming your character, developing your spirit into those qualities of honor, truth, and righteousness which will mark you as a faithful and obedient child of God.