The Southern region of the United States is called the Bible belt. This is both a good and bad reflection for those that live within this area. It is good in the regard of using the Bible as the metric of guidelines of living life yet bad in the aspect of many became religious very quickly in using the Word of God to think that action or knowledge equals a relationship with God. The Apostle Paul writes that Christians are to test or examine themselves and their faith in God through their relationship with Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). He also states that Christians should do what is right whether they appear approved or not (2 Corinthians 13:7). These verses reflect that one’s appearance before other men is not the heart of what God is looking for but a person that does what is right because they know and love God.
Many religious people will do what looks right to have a reputation of knowing God or being the Christian everyone expects them to be. This type of person has a form [the appearance, formula, fashion but not genuine] of godliness, but they deny [contradict, reject, refuse, renounce] the power of God from working within their life (2 Timothy 3:5). Religious behavior shuts off the kingdom of God not only in the lives of the hypocrites, the religious people, but they, in turn, shut others off from the kingdom of God by their actions affecting the people they interact with (Matthew 23:13). Jesus even describes many people will prophesy in His name, cast out devils in His name, and did miracles in His name but He tells them that He never KNEW them (Matthew 7:22-23). The Son of God, Jesus, specifically says that religious acts will not get a person into Heaven but knowing Jesus as Saviour and Lord in a true relationship leads to a life in right standing with God.
Religious facades teach other people how to act and speak Christianese but not the heart of God and how to have a relationship with Him (Isaiah 29:13). The true heart of God is to know His Word, know how to live a holy life, but most importantly to know Him (James 1:21-25). Religious people seek perfection in appearance while God desires relationship. God gives those that love and walk with Him grace to cover their imperfections yet expects them to live holy lives that give Him glory and honor (Ephesians 2:8-10, 1 John 1:3-9). Although God does expect obedience to Him and His Word, He wants our hearts to love Him and desire a relationship with Him every day. Christians should not be religious but have sincere love for God creating a sincere love for one another (1 Peter 1:22). Sincere love does not present hypocrisy or a façade but a genuine relationship. May Christians not be religious any longer but know, serve, and love God with all that is within them (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 6:5).