I have found that the most difficult person to reach with the Gospel message is not the sinner. The most difficult person to reach is the self-righteous, legalistic, religionist that clings to everything except Christ and His work at the cross for their salvation.
When you offer such a person the simple message of the cross they quickly reply, “Yes, but” or “Well, what about”.
See the religionist has prerequisites before a person can come to the cross, additions to the work of the cross and duties to follow after the cross.
Justification by God’s grace through a person’s faith in Christ alone is a foreign thought to the self-righteous, legalistic, religionist. Justification by faith is a very difficult concept for the religionist who is bound by works and laws to comprehend.
See, the religionist’s reasoning ability is totally and completely short-circuited by the simple thought that God accomplished what they couldn’t through Christ at the cross.
The religionist cannot handle the dependence upon God that comes from relying on the work of Christ for their salvation. The religionist wants to prove his/her worth to God. They want to climb the mountain of impossibility to tell God I have arrived.
See, the self-righteous, legalistic, religionist wants to tell the world “I am” not “Christ is”. He wants to be seen by others as right. He wants to be noticed for his work. He wants to spread his religion not the message of salvation through Christ alone.
This makes the religionist very judgmental. No, they will not admit that they are. They will tell you how concerned they are for those who do not follow the way or path that they follow. But the path they follow is all about self-righteous works and religious duties in an attempt to get right with or stay right with a God that has declared people right when they place their faith and trust in Christ and His work for them at the cross. If Christ has declared you right by faith, why would you need to continue trying so hard to get right by your own religious works and duties?
Religion is so binding and cannot deliver a person into the freedom that Christ offers. Christ does not offer a freedom to sin but a freedom to live before Him in a right relationship with God.
I pray people would quit their religious works in an attempt to get right and trust in what Jesus has done for them at the cross to be right. You’ll never experience a greater freedom.
Pastor Thomas R. Swain
First Church of God