Human religion is God’s greatest enemy and Satan’s greatest instrument in his assault on God & God’s people. Human religion is not just non-Christian faiths or certain Christian denominations. It is found in varying degrees in every Christian church just as Christ is. More pointedly, human religion is found in every person’s heart (Matt. 15:18, 19). It is the sinful nature’s attempt to be spiritual.
Regardless of where it presents itself, human religion puts itself in God’s place. Consequently, it cannot tolerate when God or His true representatives show themselves. The exposure of its charade, its counterfeiting, and its hypocrisy cannot be countenanced or it will lose all the control, self-worship, and parasitic preservation secured by its ruse. So called “clergy” are certainly to blame as perpetrators of the power structure of human religion, the façade which keeps people from entering the kingdom because it poses as the gate (Matt. 23:13). But human religion can’t exist without a laity which can be appealed to by leaders who justify the rule of self, the religion of the stomach, and enmity with the cross of Christ (Php. 3:18, 19). To these and to all Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23, 24).
We cannot serve Christ and human religion. We must choose. While Christ and human religion coexist (not only in churches but in ourselves) they will be drawn inexorably into conflict, and we will be on one side or the other—laying our lives down in Christ’s image or thinking we offer service to God even as we attack those who are His flesh and blood (1 John 3:11-16; John 16:2).
“[F]or Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14, 15).
One final consideration: The first murder was religiously motivated. Cain offered God the best fruit his talents and effort could produce. God rejected his offering but accepted Abel’s—an animal from his flock. John tells us Cain murdered Abel because “his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous” (1 John 3:12). The counterfeiter couldn’t tolerate the existence of the authentic. Cain and Abel demonstrate one of the basic differences between human religion and Christ. Cain’s “gospel” is that of human religion: work hard for God and give Him your best. Abel had nothing of himself to offer. Instead, he offered another life from his flock, which God accepted. Cain says it’s about being good enough. Abel says someone else must die for us. Human religion heaps burdens on men which it won’t lift a finger to carry itself (Matt. 23:4). Christ, who lays down His life for us, says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).