“Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Religious sin is disgusting. Are you with me? There’s something about seeing people use religion as a means of committing some kind of sin that is particularly repulsive. We may not be able to give precise wording to it, but something inside of us recoils with especial revulsion when we see it. There’s just something rotten about it. Do you know what? God feels the same way.
When people use the mechanisms of religion to advance their own interests instead of His, He is particularly offended. Here’s why: He gave us religion as a means of connecting with Him. All the rituals and pomp and pageantry are intended to create an environment in which we can better interact with who He is. There are lots of different ways to connect with Him and so those rituals vary from place to place and people to people, but that’s the fundamental goal.
This does not, however, mean all religions are basically equal. The reason for this is that all of this formality is designed to communicate certain truths about God and His world. If they instead communicate things that aren’t true and lead people away from the one true God, then they have not only failed to accomplish their intended purpose, but they are actually working as tools for the enemy. Unfortunately, there are more religions that fall under this category than don’t.
Perhaps the most common method of misusing religion is to participate in it, but only at a surface level. The thought of most folks who do this even if they might not be able to give precise wording to it, is that if they do the things the god in whose religion they are participating has demanded, he will be happy and will bless them or at the very least will leave them alone.
This is magic thinking at its core. It is a belief that by doing or saying certain things in certain ways we can gain power over the god or gods we are serving. And it never works. It fails because either the god is not real and thus can’t furnish us with any benefits, or else it is the one true God who is deeply offended by such actions and thinking. Indeed, using religion as a means to some end other than glorifying and growing in Him is one of the most condemned acts in all of the Scriptures. God reserves His most stinging condemnations for this kind of behavior.
If you are participating in the Christian religion, make certain it is for reasons that go beyond keeping God (or anyone else) off your back. Not only will it not work, but you will be sinning in the effort. Don’t do it.