Where All The Religions Go Wrong
"God can do without man, but man cannot do without God." - Adam Clarke
"A prominent historian who made a thorough study of the various religions of the world summarized their chief doctrines briefly as follows: The Greek says, 'Man, know thyself.' The Roman says, 'Man, control thyself.' The Confucian says, 'Man, improve thyself.' The Buddhist says, 'Man, destroy thyself.' The Brahman says, 'Man, absorb thyself.' The Muslim says, 'Man, submit thyself.' But Jesus says, 'Without Me ye can do nothing.' " - The Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations
The religions of the world are centered on man and what, they assume, he is capable of doing.
Christianity is centered on the Lord Jesus Christ and what He can do in and through yielded vessels.
It is gross deception to think that man is in control or can control anything. All he attempts is bound for failure. If, for some reason, he meets with success in his undertakings, it is only because God is working in the background to bring about great accomplishments for the benefit of others.
Man needs God. This is a fact! It is a truth that will never change.
What makes Christianity differ from the other religions of the world is the concept that Christ's followers have come to the realization that, without Jesus, they can do nothing in this life. They have had their understandings enlightened to see that they cannot change themselves nor their eternal destiny. They realize that they once were Hell-bound sinners in total rebellion toward God and could not change their direction. Someone bigger and better than themselves had to come and rescue them from the downward spiral of evil and wickedness. That Someone was Jesus.
Jesus is, was, and always will be every man's only solution in life. To believe otherwise is to believe a lie!
Religion says - "Man, save thyself. Deliver thyself. Change thyself." The only problem is - he can't do it.
It is as possible for a man to change his sinful ways as it is for the Ethiopian to change his skin and the leopard his spots - "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil" (Jeremiah 13:23).
Man cannot turn from his evil ways on his own.
In fact, in the Scriptures, he is oftentimes likened unto an untaught calf or an untrained, unbroken, or untoward steer who needs correction and discipline - "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn Thou me, and I shall be turned..." (Jeremiah 31:18).
The only way he can possibly turn from his evil ways is if God helps him.
Read the following prayers in Scripture that prove our point -
"Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the LORD God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again" (1 Kings 18:37).
"Turn us again, O God...and we shall be saved" (Psalm 80:3).
"Turn us again, O God of hosts...and we shall be saved" (Psalm 80:7).
"Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts...and we shall be saved" (Psalm 80:19).
"Turn us, O God of our salvation..." (Psalm 85:4).
The only way that we can possibly be saved from our sins or our troubles is for God to intervene by His Amazing Grace and rescue us.
Outside of Christ, man is spiritually stupid, ignorant, and blind. He doesn't consider his folly and its end result. Isaiah 44:18-19 describes his condition this way -
"They have not known nor understood..And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say..."
The Prophet then goes on to graphically describe those people who are pursuing after the ways of sin and the world - seeking for riches and honor in that which is vain, unsubstantial, and unsatisfying -
"He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" (Isaiah 44:20)
Oh, that all religions of men would hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah today.
They say that man can save himself. Can he? What does God's Word say?
Man cannot turn himself around or deliver his own soul for he has a "deceived heart" which is bent on pursuing after the vain pleasures of this life - "...ashes..."
The Scriptures clearly define that salvation comes from the Lord. It is a gift from God. It does not proceed from man.
Ephesians 2:8 says - "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."
Titus 3:5 says - "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us..."
Titus 3:3 implies that it is absolutely absurd for "foolish," "disobedient," and "deceived" people - "serving divers lusts and pleasures" - to imagine that they have any "works of righteousness" to plead their case.
Man needs God's help. He, being overpowered by the world and the flesh, cannot come to the Lord on his own or even attempt to change his own lifestyle.
He needs God's Supernatural, "Drawing" Grace.
Song of Solomon 1:4 says - "Draw me, we will run after Thee..."
Jeremiah 31:3 says - "...therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."
Hosea 11:4 says - "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love..."
John 12:32 says - "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."
Calvary's Love has and always will be God's greatest magnet which draws men, women, boys, and girls from their sinful lifestyles unto a holy relationship with Himself and His Son.
The Bible clearly singles out salvation as coming from one source alone - Jesus -
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12)
If man accomplishes anything in this life, all glory must go to God.
Philippians 4:13 says - "I can do all things through Christ Which strengtheneth me."
2 Corinthians 3:5 says - "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God."
2 Corinthians 4:7 says - "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
Matthew 10:19-20 says - "But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."
Luke 21:15 says - "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."
1 Corinthians 3:6 says - "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:10 says - "According to the grace of God, which is given unto me...I have laid the foundation..."
1 Corinthians 15:10 says - "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
Philippians 2:13 says - "For it is God Which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
In closing, is it Man or is it God? Is the answer for man to know, control, improve, absorb, or submit himself? If he leans on his own imagined power, strength, and skills; he will eventually do as the Buddhists advocate - "destroy thyself."
Oh that the Church would shout from the highest mountain to all those yet to be saved - "For it is God...it is God...it is God...it is God..."
It is not what man can do. On the contrary, it is what God must do.
If man does any good, it must immediately be attributed to God's Power and Grace operating in his life at the moment.
How can you tell a religious man from a Christian? The man of religion boasts in what he has done; the Christian boasts in the Lord.
Let's always remember and be sure to remind others as well - "...If there be any Praise, let it go to Calvary."
"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3).