Summary: What does religion look like when God is not at the center? 1) It is empowered by rebellion. 2) It is based on human works. 3) It invariably leads to judgment.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF GODLESS RELIGION
GENESIS 10: 8-11, 11:1-9
1. Illus. of ecumenical church service
• Religious leaders from a dozen different faiths held an Ash Wednesday service at United Nations Church Center Chapel in New York.
• The front of the chapel included not only a cross, but also emblems for the Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic faiths.
• The lengthy service never mentioned the name of Jesus.
• Closing hymn- (see attached)
2. There is a great movement in the world today to find some way to heaven that does not include Jesus and His cross. This movement is influencing your neighbors, friends, and family. Many of them are being deluded into believing that there is another way to heaven other than the “old rugged cross.” The words of Proverbs were never more appropriate than they are today: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of that path is death.”
3. We shouldn’t be surprised by this turn of events. This desire to find an alternative to God’s way of entering heaven is as old as the tower of Babel! Several generations after the flood, a group of people built a city in the ancient region of Shinar (ancient Sumer).
4. The builders of this city wanted to build a tower, “whose top is in the heavens.” Obviously, they didn’t believe that they could build a tower that would literally allow them into heaven. This is an expression of their spiritual motives. This tower was to be the temple for a new religion that did not include God, His sacrificial system, nor His covenant of grace made with Noah.
5. Text: In our text we read about the first attempt to establish a religious system apart from God.
6. Today: The basic characteristics of the false religion started at Babel are the same basic characteristics of all false religions in the world today.
7. What are the characteristics of religion apart from God?
I. RELIGION APART FROM GOD IS EMPOWERED BY REBELLION
10:8-10 Babel founded by man named Nimrod. His very name means, “rebel.”
Compare Genesis 11:4 with 9:1 This city was built as an act of rebellion against God!
2. These people were the direct descendents of Noah. They knew the truth about God! When Nimrod stood before them and said, “I’ve got a great idea. Let’s forget about God’s way, and lets do our own thing” why would they follow him? Why would they turn from truth to falsehood? Rebellion!
3. When a new religious system appears and says, “listen, you don’t have to worry about that old cross business. Let me show you a new way” why does that false religion have such a tremendous appeal to us? Because, like Nimrod, we are all rebels at heart. There is something within us that says, “God, I don’t want your way. I’m going to find my own way!”
4. Illus. of Abbey (3 years old)
• Sid told her no about something
• She went in and told her mom, “Daddy told me no. I not like daddy to tell me no!”
• Caught Sid asleep on couch, went in and whispered, “no!” She then told her mom, “I told daddy no!”
• Isn’t that our heart? “God, you don’t tell me what I can and cannot do. I’ll tell you!”
5. Isaiah 53:6a
6. Religion apart from God is empowered by our rebellion. There is something within us that says, “God, I don’t want your way.”
II. RELIGION APART FROM GOD IS BASED ON WORKS
1. When they rejected God’s way, what did they try? See vs 3-4: Let us make bricks… let us build ourselves a city…let us make a name for ourselves…
2. Once they abandoned God’s way, the only alternative was to try doing themselves through their own efforts!
3. When you abandon God’s plan for salvation by grace, the only alternative is some form of salvation by works. Religion apart from God inevitably bases itself on our works.
4. Illus. of world congress of religions
• Every religion except Christianity was invited.
• Each religion was given an hour to explain their belief system.
• At end of the congress, the president of the group that had organized the congress gave a final summation.
• “We differ in many ways, but we agree one point. There is something we must do for ourselves to make ourselves acceptable to whatever god we follow. The only point of difference we have is in what exactly must be done.”
5. He was right. Once you abandon God’s way, the only alternative is a faith built around our own works:
New ager says, “I am already god, but I must liberate my consciousness and become one with the cosmic all so that I can remember that I am god.”