Why does religion exist in the world? In basic terms, Religion is the connection between human beings and supernatural beings. It is a system of belief that connects people to their deities. It is a bridge to the supernatural. Because man is made for God, something in him naturally, drives him in the direction of God. But why are there so many forms of religion? Why not one?
Satan knows the true and living God. He knows the truth about God. He knows God is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He knows who Jesus Christ is. He knows the gospel. But, Satan is the arch-enemy of God. He is the arch-hater of God. He, along with a third of the angels, who rebelled against God and fell, formed the demonic forces. Those demonic forces do all evil that they can possibly do, against the purposes of God, and against God Himself. Satan knows there is only one God, and one Savior, and one gospel, and one salvation, and he knows there is only one way to heaven. But he has proliferated human history and the world with as many religions as conceivable in the sinful hearts of men to deceive them.
Even though you see thousands of religions on the surface, actually there are only two distinct religions in the world: that is the true religion of God, and the false religion of Satan in various forms. These two religions have two philosophies and two assurances leading to two different ultimate destinations. The true religion, which God has revealed in Scripture, declares that salvation comes by grace through faith in Christ, without works; and the false religion which declares, that salvation comes to man by his own effort, by his own achievement, by something he does – some morality, some religiosity, some ritual, some ceremony, or some behavior. God’s true religion is the religion of divine accomplishment leading men to heaven. Satan’s religion is the religion of human achievement leading men to hell.
If we really want to understand this, we need to go back to the garden where the birth of the false religion took place. We see in the first two chapters the perfect creation of God, including a perfect man and a perfect woman. Gen 2:25 says, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed”. There was nothing to be ashamed of. There was no sin. There was no need for a religion, there was no need to find a way to reconcile with God. Because there is no alienation, there is no separation in the garden. There was an unhindered, direct communication between man and God.
But, when we come to Chapter 3, things have changed. Sin entered the world. Immediately there is alienation and separation. All of a sudden they realized they were naked. They became afraid and ashamed. What did Adam and Eve do? V7, “they sewed fig leaves together, and made coverings for themselves.” That is the launch of false religion. That is the symbol of false religion. That is the first act of men, to find a way to cover their own shame, cover their own sins. That didn’t work. God exposes their sin, cursed them, cursed the serpent, and cursed the ground. The coverings that man made were useless: they did not cover his shame, they did not hide him from God, and they did not remove him from the divine judgment.
Then what did God do? V21: “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” Here is the first act of true religion -God Himself providing the covering. If the sinner is to have a covering it has to come from God, and it has to come by death. Here, in Genesis, we find the first ever death since creation began, and who is the executioner? God Himself is the executioner. God had said to Adam and Eve, “On the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Adam and Eve remembered it. And, they were hiding themselves from God, for the fear that their death was coming. Death actually came. And, they saw it. But amazingly, it was the death of an innocent substitute. And here, at the very beginning, in the garden itself, is the introduction of the Christian doctrine of substitutionary death. An innocent animal, giving its life, to provide covering for sinners, who cannot cover themselves. So, in the garden, we have the beginning of false religion, in the covering that Adam and Eve made; and we have the beginning of true religion, which is the covering that only God can make through death.
From that point on, those two religions have never changed. There is the true religion that requires death, the death of the substitute, a perfect sacrifice who is the Christ Jesus. And the False religion which says, “Make something to cover yourselves and hide.” True religion, the religion of Scripture, is based on faith in what God will provide. False religion is based on the works that I provide: “You provide your own covering to satisfy the deity and save yourself from his wrath.”
The tactics of Satan haven’t changed since the creation of the world. It was in the garden, and it is now. The same tactic Satan successfully employed in the garden against Adam and Eve, is still being successfully employed in this age. The principle attack of Satan against God is aimed at disputing and assaulting His character and His word.
- Satan initiates his attack by planting a doubt in the mind about the inerrant and infallible Word of God (“Did God actually say..?” – Gen 3:1).
- Then he distorts and twists the Word, puts words into the mouth with an intention to shed doubts on the truthfulness and the character of God (“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” – Gen 3:1). Do you see the subtlety, the play on words? It is not what God said, though it sounds like it. What God actually said was “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, with one exception.”
- Third comes the denial, direct opposition against God’s Word. (“You shall not surely die” – Gen 3:4). Satan boldly denies what God said.
- Then he slanders God’s word suggesting it as a manipulative tool, (“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened” – Gen 3:5).
- Finally, he gives a false promise, (“You shall become like God” – Gen 3:6).
The Bible repeatedly warns believers about the religious deception. (1 Timothy 4, 2 Tim 3:13, Matthew 7:15, Matthew 24:4-5, Acts 20:29-30, Gal 1:9, Ephesians 4:14, Romans 16:17-18). The strategy of Satan was always the same. The false religion is not just outside the boundaries of true religion. It is both outside and inside. Satan doesn’t just do his work as anti-Christian; he does his work as subtly pretending to be Christian. That’s deceit. If Satan is going to pervert the truth, he got to get inside the truth. He can’t stand on the outside and just yell at the truth. He has to get in and corrupt it from the inside. That’s how he operates. He appears very godly and very religious and all the time he is sowing the seeds of damnable heresy.
Counterfeit Christian religions have Christ, they have the salvation part, but they add human achievements to that. They deny and reject the sufficiency of the atoning, substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. They say, “We believe in Christ, and we believe He is the Messiah. We believe in His death and resurrection. But, we don’t believe you can be saved by simply believing in Him.” That essentially is what all forms of false Christianity preach today. In our day, Satan is a pluralist, propagating the idea that all religions are equal and leading to the same God when Jesus said He is the only way to God. When Jesus says ‘the Cross is enough, I paid the price in full, and my work is finished’ they say ‘No, it is not enough’ –that is direct denial!
The Roman Catholic Church has the audacity to go one step further, and pronounce a curse upon anyone who believes in the sufficiency of the cross. At the Council of Trent in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church explicitly denied the idea of salvation by faith alone. Man is justified by baptism plus faith, plus additional works (Catholic Catechism Ref. Nos. 1265-1271, 1987-1995).
Canon 14, Council of Trent -“If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.”
Canon 12, Council of Trent – “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified . . . let him be accursed”.
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. – 2 Corinthians 11:3-4
“Works-salvation” refers to the concept that human works are necessary for salvation; that is, that the work of Christ, in and of itself, without human works, actually saves no one at all. If it is asserted that Christ’s work is dependent upon the actions of humankind, and that God has simply made a way of salvation available that is still dependent upon works (whether these be penances, baptism, whatever), this is “works salvation.”
According to Rome, Justification is received not by faith, but by baptism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph, 1992, that “. . . justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.” And that the initial grace should be completed by our efforts, “No one can MERIT the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can MERIT for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2027). Further, you can repeatedly lose your salvation and can again be justified, “Those who through sin have forfeited the received grace of justification, can again be justified when, moved by God, they exert themselves to obtain through the sacrament of penance the recovery, by the merits of Christ, of the grace lost” (Council of Trent, session 6, ‘Decree on Justification,’ ch.14).
If Rome is correct, then Jesus doesn’t save anyone. If Rome is correct, then we can boast when we get to heaven. The religion of Rome is heretic, and a counterfeit religion of Satan!
Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. Steven J. Lawson
Book of Galatians, Martin Luther’s Commentary
Fundamentals of Catholic dogma by Ludwig Ott
Catechism of the Catholic Church – Vatican publication
1917 Code of Canon Law with Commentary by Dom Charles Augustine Bachofen
Foundations – Dr. R.C. Sproul
The Gospel According to Rome – James G. McCarthy
The ‘Gospel’ According to Rome – Nathan Busenitz
Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern – John MacArthur
Explaining the Heresy of Catholicism – John MacArthur
Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics – By: Ron Rhodes