“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27
True religion is a relationship with God. False religion is a counterfeit thing, the assumption that relationship is that to do with observing rules and rituals.
True religion recognises that while we’re sinners Christ died for us, that if we receive Jesus as the Savior, trusting his death as the full payment for our sins, we are forgiven, saved, redeemed, reconciled, and justified with God. But false religion says that to do with observing rules and rituals.
Don’t we have rules and rituals?
Certainly, true religion does have rules and rituals, but there is a crucial difference. In true religion, the rules and rituals are observed out of gratitude for the salvation God has provided – NOT in an effort to obtain that salvation.
True religion, has rules to obey, like in the scripture above that we should visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Observance of these rules and rituals is not what makes a person right with God, Christ does. Rather, these rules and rituals are the result of the relationship we already have with God, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as the Savior. False religion is doing things in order to try to earn God’s favour.
But true religion is receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and thereby having a right relationship with God – and then doing things (rules and rituals) out of love for God and desire to grow closer to Him.