The Gospel vs Religion (Colossians 2:16-23)

palenque11One of the main enemies of the Gospel is religion.

Religion is “seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and acceptance by God through obedience” – C.J. Mahaney

“Religion is the default mode of the human heart” – Martin Luther

Religion is what the church in Colosse was dealing with. They were trying to earn God’s favor and acceptance through dietary regulations, worshiping angels, and refraining from pleasurable (not sinful) activities. 

There are several issues that stem from religion. Here are a few:

Religious people say, “I obey-therefore I’m accepted.”

Religion is motivated based on fear and insecurity. 

Religious people obey God in order to get things from God.

Identity and self worth are rooted in one’s ability to be a good, moral person.

Religion leads to pride if someone is succeeding morally. 

Religion leads to guilt and shame if someone is failing morally.

Paul instructs us is in this passage to let no one pass judgment or disqualify  on us based on religious practices. In verse 20 Paul claims that in Christ we have died to the elemental spirits of the world. He then goes on in chapter 3 to tell us to seek the things from above, where Christ is seated. Romans 8 claims that there is no condemnation for those in Jesus. We have been set free by the blood of Christ on the cross. There is no more work to be done to atone for our sins. Col 2:14 says that Jesus took the record of debt that stood against us and was nailed to the cross with it. In our place. For our sins. Our Penal Substitutionary Atonement. 

Take a second think….. if this is true, then why are we trying to make ourselves right with God by the things we do? or don’t do?

Isaiah 64:6 says “our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” A more accurate translation is bloody  rags. If this is offensive to you, then the point has got across. God isn’t impressed with our moralism. 

In Colossians and throughout scripture we are urged to see and follow Christ through the lenses of the Gospel. 

Through the Gospel we start to see things a different way:

“I’m accepted-therefore I obey.” 

 I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him. 

The Gospel motivates us out of joy. 

Identity is rooted in the fact that simultaneously  I am sinful and lost yet accepted in Christ.

The gospel leads to hope, life, and freedom from Satan, sin, and death. 


Think about areas in your life that you are religious. 

Love Jesus for dying on the cross for the punishment of your sins so that you don’t have to try to earn favor with God.

Live knowing that there is nothing that you can do that can separate from God’s love through the cross of Christ (Romans 8:37-39). You don’t have to try to earn God’s favor. Jesus already did it for you.





Filed under Colossians

7 responses to “The Gospel vs Religion (Colossians 2:16-23)

  1. Sam

    It is important to note that religion puts MAN in front of GOD.

    The Gospel puts GOD before MAN so much so that the only thing we can see is God.

    Religion has no power to produce fruit, lasting change, or joy.

    The Gospel contains the power of CHRIST and works in and through us! What power we have!

    Just knowing I have this Gospel is enough to fill me with joy for as long as I live.

  2. Jesse

    shouldn’t it be “Our Penal Substitutional Atonement”

  3. viministry

    Yes. Thanks Jesse.

  4. A Living Room

    We ran into some confusion about what the Gospel is and what it looks like to “preach the Gospel to yourself daily.” So what does it mean/look like to preach the Gospel to yourself daily?

  5. matt

    Here is an amazing message that deals with Religion vs. The Gospel. It was given at Bioloa University.

  6. matt

    I spelled Biola wrong….

  7. matt

    I spelled Biola wrong…..

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