This article is partly my personal opinion.
I speak negatively about religion and the behavior of religious people because of the fruit I see. The religion of mainstream Christianity is one I’ve mainly criticised. It’s comprised of legalistic practices that hinder a connection to the true God and inheritance of his kingdom.
Because my usage of the term religion is often in a negative light, some people may conclude that I believe all religion is bad, but I don’t. There is a pure religion the Bible speaks of:
26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
27 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 1:26-27)
The term religion is mentioned only five times in the King James version of the Bible. Two of which refers to the practices of the Old Covenant Hebrews who persecuted the Church (Acts 26:5; Gal 1:13,14). Three other times it refers to the worship of God along with ceremonial practices (James 1:26,27).
Since most religion is tainted with doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1-) that lead to death and doesn’t allow closeness and real love from the god the group worships, I tend not to refer to my relationship with my God as a religion.
I could call my relationship pure religion, but I’d rather drop the term religion altogether. What I do is a lifestyle. I’m a citizen of his kingdom, he’s my father, and I’m a family member.
Would you call the relationship with your family a religion?
So-called ceremonial practices
When I pray, I’m merely talking to my father, through my elder brother and Lord (Christ) and the Holy Spirit.
When I study the Bible, it’s to learn about the ways of my Father and to draw advice from the historical accounts of people like me.
Fasting is designed to weaken my flesh and strengthen my spiritual connection with God.
All the above are relational activities necessary to strengthen the bond between my God. These are no different from a child spending time with his father.
These are far from the ceremonial and ritualistic practices you find in dead religion today. Some people approach these activities as such because they don’t know God as a father, rather a god that they think they can please through their vain activity.
We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6)
Therefore, I tend to let everyone else have the term “religion” because it feels disconnected from the true God.
But call it whatever you want
If you want to call your relationship with God a religion or pure religion, that’s fine with me, but I chose to call it a family relationship. If your religion pleases God (on his terms) and strengthens your bond with him and his family, keep doing it.
If your religion keeps you undefiled and unspotted from the world, you’ve got pure religion. If your religion holds your tongue in its place and leads you to help those in need, continue to practice it.
But if your religion is just a bunch of dead works that makes you feel like a good person but doesn’t conform you into the image of Christ, then I’d abandon that form of religion.