Are all religions the same?

During a recent conversation, someone proposed the idea that all religions are basically the same. All of them tell people not to steal, to be nice, don’t hurt others, etc. While there is some truth to that statement, are all religions really the same? It is true that most religions teach some form of morality. You are usually considered a good person if you follow the moral principles taught by a particular religion. However, that is not what the Bible teaches.

According to the Bible, God wants people to honor Him by being like Him.

Read the Bible for any period of time and you will quickly see that God’s desires people to be holy. This means that we are to be set apart as different than others and more like Him. He wants us to be blameless (Eph. 1:4), without blemish (Eph. 5:27), holy in the way we live (1 Pet. 1:15-16), and righteous (Rev. 22:11). The newspaper paints quite a different picture of humanity. Is this holy living even a possibility for people to achieve?

According to the Bible, God knows that we are flawed and cannot be like Him.

Our perspective of humanity is often different than what God sees. We tend to think that we are mostly good but the evidence is much different. Early in human history, God noted that people had become habitually evil in thought and action (Gen. 6:5). While we are easily impressed with our “goodness,” God views our best actions as garbage (Isa. 64:6). As a whole none of us is righteous or seeks to please God (Rom. 3:10-13) and all of us sins falling far short of God’s standard of holy living (Rom. 3:23). From God’s perspective this is an internal flaw which is characteristic of all humanity. So how could any of us be holy like God if we are hopelessly flawed?

According to the Bible, only God can enable people to be like Him.

This is what differentiates what the Bible teaches from all other religions. Religions require people to do things to be accepted. God knows that we are unable to do this, so He makes the change in us so that we can be like Him. This is called the new birth. In order to be right with God, each person has to be “born again.” Jesus was talking about a total change of inner character or becoming a new person (John 3:3-7). When God convinces an individual of their sinfulness and inability to be right with Him, the only right response is to turn to Him for the answer. God provides a new life to anyone who turns from their sin and who trusts in Jesus. When God transforms that person’s life, the Spirit of God gives that individual a completely new character (2 Cor. 5:17). In essence, they become a new person from the inside out. With the enabling help of God’s Holy Spirit, believers then have the ability to live holy lives that please God (Gal. 5:16-23).

In a short article, there are only so many things that can be said. But it should be clear what the Bible teaches — that people can’t expect to be morally acceptable to God on their own. Religious activity can’t make someone less sinful to God; it only masks the inner problem. Our sinful inner character keeps us from pleasing God and pushes us to instinctively do what is wrong. Our only hope is to be changed by God and then enabled by His Holy Spirit to be like Him and to do the things He desires for us. Only God can make us what He requires us to be.

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