Religion, by definition, is a set of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or group of gods. The Latin root of this word carries the idea of constraint and practice, even to restrain or tie back.
Many religions are noted by their adherence to traditions, rituals, and rules along with other implied expectations. A religious person practices these things with the hopes of becoming more spiritual and acceptable by whoever or whatever is worshiped.
Sacred is a common term related to religion. It describes a sense of holiness or devotion. Something that is sacred is devoted or set apart for service or worship. It can also refer to people who are set apart for service or worship.
In Christianity, this is expressed as being holy or sanctified. When applied to a person, the process of becoming holy is called sanctification. All of this religious stuff sounds pretty exhausting and intimidating, doesn't it?
Here's some good news. Jesus has set His followers free from all this effort, once for all! Not so we can do as they please but to free us to live a life that pleases Him.
We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all.
Every day each priest performed his religious duty. He offered the same type of sacrifice again and again. Yet, these sacrifices could never take away sins. [vss 10-11]
However, this chief priest made one sacrifice for sins, and this sacrifice lasts forever. Then he received the highest position in heaven. Since that time, he has been waiting for his enemies to be made his footstool.
With one sacrifice he accomplished the work of setting them apart for God forever. [vss 12-14]
(Hebrews 10:10-14 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]
With one sacrifice he accomplished the work of setting them apart for God forever
Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions
What made it possible for believers to be "set apart as holy"?
What did the priests under the Law do over and over yet not able to accomplish?
How is what Jesus did as a chief priest contrasted with the other priests?
What do you see is the major emphasis of these few verses? [hint– it's repeated three times]
Why keep repeating the same thing over and over if it isn't effective and has little lasting value? This is the nature of religion.
No religion, no effort at goodness, no philosophy or system of discipline can make a person better or more righteous than what Jesus did once for all.
Why try to improve on perfection? Our own efforts at goodness are futile. Why not choose what is perfect and guaranteed for eternity?
Christian believers—followers of Jesus—are set apart as holy by the work of Jesus on the cross and through the power of His resurrection living in us. It's the Holy Spirit's transforming work in our hearts and minds that makes us holy.
True righteousness and sanctification are not the result of good behavior and good intentions but is based on a genuine, personal relationship of trust.
Exchanging our effort for Jesus' perfect work is wise. What will you choose today?
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions
How would you describe the idea of being holy or set apart (IYOW)?
Why do you think we all seem to default to some type of religious effort?
Have you experienced the conflict between effort and trust in your own life?
How are you currently learning to trust Jesus and His perfect work in your daily life?
Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews