Whether it be the Mountain Meadow Massacre, the Salem witch trials, the crusades or the violence in Ireland between Protestants and Catholics, you can’t help but wonder why people do so much bad in the name of religion.
Many have concluded that the correlation is causation. Perhaps religion is to blame for all the wars in the world. If we could just eradicate religion, we would finally have peace. If the common denominator to all this violence is religion, perhaps religion itself is the problem.
The rational isn’t too farfetched so it’s no wonder why so many people feel this way. But that conclusion is actually based on a worldview that believes that people are essentially good. Religion is the thing that calls them bad and if they knew they weren’t bad, then they’d be good.
But if we are essentially good, then how did good people come up with a bad thing? If we rid the world of religion, how can we be sure that we wouldn’t replace it with something worse?
Many people turn to the horrors of the communists as an example of how bad things can be in a world free of religion, but I would rather get to the root of the problem.
In Genesis 4, the Bible records the first murder. Cain murdered his Brother. According to the Apostle John, Cain’s motivation for murdering him had nothing to do with religion. Simply put: “his own deeds were evil and his Brother’s righteous” (1John 3:12).
Man kills because man is a murderer at heart.
Man has an insatiable desire for evil and loves to do evil things. But man also has a conscience which can only be satisfied by being good (Romans 2:15).
With a lust for evil and a conscience for good, the only way he can live with himself is to find a religion.
Religion is man’s justification for his wickedness.
Now the sexual immorality of the Greeks could be justified in the temple of Aphrodite, murder can be justified by Jihad, Jews could justify their greed by simply dedicating their wealth to God so they didn’t have to share (Mark 7:13), etc.
The result is that man’s attempt to justify himself only leads to more wickedness.
To simply remove religion would only tear away the Band-Aid. We don’t need a Band-Aid, we need to be healed. We don’t need man-made justification. We need God’s justification.
We are tormented by our sin nature and religion only gives us license to indulge in it or a place to deceive ourselves into believing that everything is okay.
The cross of Jesus Christ is where God came and gave actual justification. When he took our sin upon the cross, the result was this beautiful gift: the gift of God-sealed justification.
He proved his sacrifice was sufficient by rising from the grave and the seal is the Spirit of God who causes us to walk in his ways as a result of us putting our trust in his justification instead of our own (Ezekiel 36:27).
Man-made religion offers a promise that it can’t deliver on.
God’s justification offers a promise that Jesus already delivered on by literally overcoming death.
Man-made religion justifies wickedness
God’s justification justifies the wicked.
If you haven’t placed your faith in God’s justification and you’re still relying on your own justification, take a look at yourself. Are you really sufficient to be your own savior?
Take it from a sinner who’s experienced the freedom of the cross. He is worth it!