Are You Religious Or Spiritual?

Religious people often refer to themselves as righteous people. This post will examine the difference between a religious person and a righteous or spiritual person.

I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent. Luke 5:32

Read that verse two or three more times and let it sink in. What Jesus said in that portion of scripture affects a large portion of the people who attend church today.

When I think of the term “a religious person,” my mind goes to two different types of people. The first one deals with the setting in which Jesus made this statement about the religious.

Earlier that day, Jesus saw Matthew, the tax collector, working in his booth. The Lord did something that none of His other followers expected.

Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Luke 5:27-28

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Matthew’s positive response may have also shocked those following the Lord. Anyhow, that night, Matthew held a banquet in his home and invited Jesus as the guest of honor.

Of course, Matthew also invited others from his circle of friends. You guessed it, his guest list included fellow tax collectors and others he rubbed shoulders with.

This infuriated some of the religious leaders. They were appalled that Jesus would hang out with such people, let alone eat with them. They complained using some very strong language.

But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” Luke 5:30

Two Types of Religious People

The Pharisees and teachers of the law define the first type of person I see as a religious person. They considered themselves above the law and right below God.

They flaunted their superiority over everyone to the point that people feared them instead of respecting them. Even today, some religious leaders demand respect because of their position.

Jesus didn’t have time for these religious people. He boldly expressed what He thought of them.

In Matthew 23, we can read about an encounter He had with such leaders. Check out verse 25.

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! Matthew 23:25

Secondly, my mind goes to a larger segment of people when I think of a religious person. This type of person attends church fairly regularly and goes through the motions of Sunday worship.

At the end of the service, they feel good about themselves. I once heard a person say this when walking out of the church. “Well, I gave God my hour for this week.”

These religious folks will often get involved in the social aspects of the church. But only if they can fit them into their busy calendars. Again, these activities make them feel good. Paul said;

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:9

I would never discourage anyone from attending church or participating in outreach. Unfortunately, these religious people feel their “religious activities will get them to heaven.


The Church in Laodicea

Jesus dictated a letter to John to deliver to a group of people just like them. These folks went to the church in Laodicea and thought they were okay with the Lord, but they weren’t.

I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! Revelation 3:15-16

The people Jesus wrote to felt they could care for themselves and their needs. In other words, they didn’t require anything from the Lord. They depended on their religious activities.

You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. Revelation 3:17

Then, He advised them to turn to Him because He has everything they need. The Lord continued by telling them why He gave them this advice.

I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Revelation 3:19

The question in the title of this article asks if you’re religious or spiritual. What I mean by spiritual points to the fact that you’ve accepted Jesus into your life and are living for Him.

If a person finds them self basing their Christianity around their Sunday morning church attendance, then they are religious. I could have found myself in that very state.

I Changed from Religious to Spiritual


In my younger days, I loved attending church and involvement in church activities. Church was my life, and I was as religious as one could be. But my life was changed in church also.

Let me tell you why I would never discourage anyone from attending church. Because this bonafide, self-proclaimed do-gooder had an encounter with the Lord in a church service.

I allowed myself to go into a church where the Holy Spirit was moving, and I got in His way. He brought me along with him instead of moving me out of His way.

In an evening, Jesus revealed Himself to me, and I realized that I was a sinner and needed Him. He cleansed me of my sin, and I transformed from a religious person to a follower of Jesus.

The Lord told the church in Laodicea that He loved them. Then, He went on to say that He was waiting for them. Just like I found Him waiting for me that night when I accepted Him.

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20

Jesus wants to Celebrate the Victory with You

When we turn from being religious by giving ourselves to Jesus, we trade our carnality in for the spiritual. When that happens, the Lord celebrates our victory with us.

Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Revelation 3:21

Lord, thank you for removing the religious spirit from us and celebrating the victory with us.

Check out these related posts on getting your life right with God

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