3. What are the differences between belief in God and belief in religion?

Relevant Words of God:

What is belief in religion? What is belief in God? Is there a difference? What are the common, prominent features of religion? How do people generally define belief in religion? Belief in religion consists of changes in behavior, a change in such behaviors as fighting with others, cursing others, malfeasance, exploiting others, taking advantage of others, and petty thefts and larceny. It refers, in the main, to changes in behavior. When someone believes in religion, they try to behave well, to be a good person; these are external behaviors. What about religion as a psychological crutch? What about the realm of the mind? With faith, one does have a crutch, psychologically. Belief in religion can therefore be defined thus: being well-behaved, and having a psychological crutch—nothing more. When it comes to details such as whether whom they believe in actually exists and what He is, exactly, and what He asks of them, people use inference and their imagination. Belief with such a basis is called belief in religion. Belief in religion chiefly means pursuing a change in behavior and having a psychological crutch, but does it entail any change in the path of a person’s life? There is not the slightest change in the path, purpose, or direction of a person’s life, nor in the basis on which they live. And what is it to believe in God? What does God define and require as believing in Him? (Believing in His sovereignty.) It is believing He exists and believing in His sovereignty—this is most fundamental. What does God require of people in their belief in Him? What does it relate to? (Being honest people, having normal humanity, pursuing the truth, pursuing dispositional transformation, and seeking to know God.) And is anything required of people with regard to their words and behavior? (In terms of our external behavior, we’re required to be devout and not dissolute, and to live out normal humanity.) Externally, you are required to have basic saintly decency and to live out normal humanity. And what is the definition of believing in God? Believing in God is obedience to God’s words; it is to exist, live, and perform one’s duty according to the words spoken by God, and to engage in all the activities of normal humanity. What this implies is that to believe in God is to follow God, to do as God would have you do, and to live as God would have you live. To believe in God is to follow His way. And in doing so, are the purpose and direction of people’s lives not completely different from those of people who believe in religion? What does belief in God involve? People should live out normal humanity; they should obey God’s words, no matter what God asks them to do; and they should practice according to God’s words. These things all involve the words of God. What are the words of God? (The truth.) Belief in God involves the truth; it is the source, and the right path of life; it involves the path people walk in life. Does the belief in religion involve any of this? It does not. To believe in religion, it is fine merely to behave well externally, restrain oneself, adhere to rules, and have a psychological crutch. If one behaves well and has a psychic support and crutch, does their path in life change? (No.) Some people say, “Believing in religion and believing in God are the same thing.” Do they follow God, then? A belief in religion is merely the pursuit of behavioral change, nothing more than the pursuit of a psychological crutch, and it does not involve any truths. As a result, there can be no change in these people’s dispositions. They are incapable of putting the truth into practice, or of any substantive change, and they do not have true knowledge of God. When someone believes in religion, regardless of how good their behavior, regardless of how robust their psychological crutch, do they follow God? (No.) Then whom do they follow? They follow Satan. And what is the basis of what they live out, pursue, desire, practice, and rely on in their lives? That basis is entirely the corrupt disposition of Satan and its essence. The way they conduct themselves and treat others is in keeping with the logic and philosophy for living of Satan; everything they say is a lie, bereft of the slightest truth; they have not achieved the slightest change in their satanic dispositions, and what they follow remains Satan. Their life view, values, ways of handling things, and the principles of their actions are all the expressions of their satanic nature; there has only been a small change in their external behavior; there has not been the slightest alteration in their life’s path, the way they live, or their outlook. If you truly believe in God, what changes have actually occurred in you after having believed in God for several years? The foundation of your life undergoes a change. On what basis do you live? What governs what you do and say every day? What is it all based on? (It is all based on God’s words and the truth.) For example, perhaps you no longer tell lies—what is the basis of this? Why do you not speak that way anymore? (Because God does not like it.) There is a basis upon which you no longer speak or act that way, and that basis is the word of God, what God asks, and the truth. So, does such a person have the same life path? Here is a summary: What is belief in religion? And what is belief in God? When people believe in religion, they follow Satan; when they believe in God, they follow God. That is the difference. Today, you perform your duty in the house of God; do you believe in religion or in God? What is the difference? What does this depend on? It depends on the path you walk. If what you pursue is good behavior, a psychological crutch, compliance with rules, and plots for personal benefit, and if you do not pursue the truth in the least, but merely to be someone who seems nice, and there is not the slightest change in your nature essence, or corrupt disposition, then you believe in religion. Those who believe in God are able to accept all the truths that God expresses; they are able to reflect on and come to know themselves according to the truth and to repent truly, and ultimately, they become able to live by God’s words, obey God, and worship God—only such people are true believers in God.

Excerpted from “Belief in Religion Will Never Lead to Salvation” in Records of Christ’s Talks

The simplest way to describe belief in God is trusting there is a God, and, on this foundation, following Him, obeying Him, accepting His dominion, orchestrations, and arrangements, listening to His words, living in accordance with His words, doing everything according to His words, being a true created being, and fearing Him and shunning evil; only this is true belief in God. This is what it means to follow God. You say you follow God, but, in your heart, you do not accept God’s words, and you do not accept His dominion, orchestrations, and arrangements. If you always have notions of what God does, and you always misunderstand what He does, and complain about it; if you are always dissatisfied, and you always measure and approach what He does using your own notions and imaginings; if you always have your own understandings—this will cause trouble. You are not experiencing God’s work, and you have no way to follow Him truly. Such is not belief in God.

What, exactly, is belief in God? Is belief in religion equivalent to belief in God? When people believe in religion, they follow Satan. Only when they believe in God do they follow God, and only those who follow Christ truly believe in God. Is someone who will never accept God’s words as their life a person who believes in God? It is of no use, no matter how many years they have believed in God. Someone who always engages in religious ritual in their faith but does not practice the truth is not a believer in God, and God does not acknowledge them. On what basis does God acknowledge you? His acknowledgment of you is based on whether you act in all matters according to His requirements. His acknowledgment is meted in accordance with His words, not based on how many changes there are in your outward behavior, or how much time you spend running about for Him, but on the path you walk, and whether you pursue the truth. There are many who say they believe in God and speak words of praise for God—but, in their hearts, they do not love the words spoken by God, nor are they interested in the truth. In their hearts they believe always that only if they live by the philosophies of Satan and various doctrines of the outside world will they be normal, and able to protect themselves, that only living like this will give value to their lives in this world. Is this someone who believes in God and follows Him? All the sayings of renowned, great figures sound especially philosophical and are particularly capable of deceiving people. If you treat them as the truth and abide by them as maxims, but, when it comes to God’s words, to the most ordinary words of God, which ask that you be an honest person, that you stick scrupulously to your own, allotted station and perform the duty of a created being, and that you remain steadfast—you are incapable of practicing them, and you do not treat them as the truth, then you are no follower of God. You may say you have practiced His words, but what if God may press you for the truth and ask: “What have you practiced? Who spoke those words that you practice? What is the basis of the principles to which you adhere?” If that basis is not the words of God, then it is the words of Satan; what you live out is the words of Satan, yet you still say you practice the truth and satisfy God, is this not blasphemy against Him? God says people should be honest, yet there are those who do not ponder what being honest includes, how they should practice honesty, or which of the things they live out and reveal are not honest, and which of them are. They do not contemplate the essence of the truth in God’s words, but find a book of the unbelievers, and, upon reading it, they say, “These are good words—even better than God’s. ‘Guileless people ever prevail’—isn’t that the same as what God said? This is the truth, as well!” So, they abide by these words. What do they live out when they abide by these words? Are they able to live out the reality of the truth? Are there many such people? They gain a little knowledge, read a few books, and gain a bit of insight, and they hear some famous adage or popular saying and treat these as the truth. They act according to these words, and apply them to their duties and their lives of belief in God, and even think this satisfies Him. Is this not sleight of hand? Is this not trickery? It is blasphemy! There is much of this in people. They abide by pleasant-sounding, correct-seeming folk doctrines as if they were the truth. They put God’s words to one side and pay them no heed, and, no matter how many times they read them, they do not take them to heart or treat them as the truth. Is one who does so someone who believes in God? Do they follow God? Such a person believes in religion; they follow Satan! In their hearts, they think there is philosophy in the words spoken by Satan, that these words have profound meaning, that they are scripture, wise sayings, and, no matter what else they may forsake, they could never put these words aside. To do so would be, to them, like losing their life, or having their heart scooped out. What kind of person is this? This is a person who follows Satan.

Excerpted from “Belief in Religion Will Never Lead to Salvation” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Are there any among you who believe in religion? Are those who believe in religion unbelievers? (No.) So, to whom does “belief in religion” refer? All who do not pursue the truth, who focus only on good behavior and abiding by rules, who do not practice the truth, and in whose disposition there has not been the slightest change, believe in religion. What distinguishes those who believe in religion? (They only care about external actions and appearing to behave well.) What are the principles and basis of how they act? (Satanic philosophies for living.) What are the satanic philosophies for living and the satanic corrupt dispositions? Cunning and craftiness; being a law unto oneself; arrogance and conceit; always having the last word, never having searched for the truth and never fellowshiping with their brothers and sisters; when acting, always to think of one’s own interests, of one’s own pride, status, and influence—this, in its entirety, is following Satan, and these are expressions of a satanic disposition. If one believes in God but does not heed His words, accept the truth, or submit to His arrangements and orchestrations; if they only exhibit certain good behaviors, but are unable to forsake the flesh, and relinquish nothing of their pride or interests; if, though to all appearances they perform their duty, they still live by their satanic dispositions, and have not in the least given up the philosophies and modes of existence of Satan, and do not change—then how could they possibly believe in God? That is belief in religion. Such people forsake things and expend of themselves superficially, but the path they walk and the source and impetus of everything they do are not based on the words of God or the truth; instead, they continue to act according to their own imaginings, desires, and subjective assumptions, and the philosophies and dispositions of Satan continue to be the basis of their existence and actions. In matters whose truth they do not understand, they do not seek it; in matters whose truth they do understand, they do not practice it, exalt God as great, or treasure the truth. Though they are nominally a follower of God, it is in word only; the substance of their actions is nothing but the expression of their corrupt dispositions. There is no sign that their motive and intent are to practice the truth and act according to God’s words. People who consider their own interests before all else, who fulfill their own desires and intents first—are these people who follow God? (No.) And can people who do not follow God bring about change in their dispositions? (No.) And if they cannot change their dispositions, are they not pathetic? … When they have no problems, when everything is going smoothly for them, most people feel that God is mighty, and righteous, and lovely. When God tests them, deals with them, chastens them, and disciplines them, when He asks them to put aside their own interests, to turn their backs on the flesh and practice the truth, when God does work on them, and orchestrates and reigns over their fates and their lives, they become rebellious, and create estrangement between themselves and God; they create conflict and a gulf between them and God. At such times, in their hearts, God is not lovely in the least; He is not at all mighty, for what He does does not fulfill their wishes. God makes them sad; He makes them upset; He brings them pain and suffering; He makes them feel unsettled. They therefore do not submit to God at all, instead rebelling against Him and shunning Him. Are they practicing the truth by doing this? Are they following the way of God? Do they follow God? No. So, regardless of how numerous your notions and imaginings about God’s work are, and regardless of how you previously acted according to your own will and rebelled against God, if you truly pursue the truth, and accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and accept being pruned and dealt with by God’s words; if, in everything He orchestrates, you are able to follow the way of God, obey God’s words, seek His will, practice in accordance with His words and His will, are able to seek to submit, and can put all your own will, desires, considerations, motivations, and antagonism to God aside—only then are you following God! You say you follow God, but all you do, you do according to your own will. In everything you do, you have your own aims, your own plans; you do not leave it up to God. Is God still your God, then? If God is not your God, then, when you say you follow God, are these not empty words? Are such words not an attempt to fool people? You say you follow God, but all your actions and behaviors, your outlook on life, your values, and the attitude and principles with which you approach and handle matters all come from Satan—you handle all this entirely in accordance with the principles and logic of Satan. So, do you follow God?

Excerpted from “Belief in Religion Will Never Lead to Salvation” in Records of Christ’s Talks

What name does God give to the religion of those who believed in Jehovah? Judaism. They became a kind of religious group. And how does God designate the religion of those who believe in Jesus? (Christianity.) In God’s eyes, Judaism and Christianity represent religious groups. Why does God define them as such? Among all those who are members of these religious bodies defined by God, are there any who fear Him and shun evil, do His will, and follow His way? (No.) This makes it clear. In God’s eyes, can all those who nominally follow Him be ones whom He acknowledges to be believers? Do they all have a connection with God? Could they all be targets for His salvation? (No.) So, will a day come when you are reduced to what God views as a religious group? (It’s possible.) Being reduced to a religious group—that seems inconceivable. If people become part of a religious group in God’s eyes, will they be saved by Him? Are they of His house? (No, they aren’t.) So, let us try to summarize: These people who nominally believe in the true God, but whom He believes to belong to religious groups—what path do they walk? Could it be said that such people walk the path of waving the flag of faith without ever following God’s way, and of believing in Him yet never worshiping Him, instead forsaking Him? That is, they walk the path of believing in God but forsaking Him and not following His way; their way is one in which they believe in God but worship Satan, they worship the devil, they try to carry out their own management, and try to establish their own kingdom. Is this not the essence of it? Do people like this have any connection to God’s management plan for the salvation of humanity? (No.) No matter how many people believe in God, as soon as their beliefs are defined by Him as being those of a religion or group, He has already determined that they cannot be saved. Why do I say this? In a gang or crowd of people who are without the work and guidance of God, and who do not worship Him at all, whom do they worship? Whom do they follow? In form and name, they follow a person, but whom do they essentially follow? Deep down, they acknowledge God, but in fact, they are subject to human manipulation, arrangements, and control. They follow Satan, the devil; they follow the forces that are hostile to God and that are His enemies. Would God save a pack of people such as this? (No.) Why not? Are they capable of repentance? (No.) They are incapable of repentance. They wave the flag of faith, carrying out human enterprises and conducting their own management, and they run counter to God’s management plan for mankind’s salvation. Their final outcome is one of being detested and rejected by God; He could not possibly save these people, they could not possibly repent, they have already been captured by Satan—they are entirely in Satan’s hands. In your faith, does how many years you have believed in God matter to whether or not you are praised by Him? Do the rituals and regulations you abide by matter? Does God look at people’s methods of practice? Does He look at how many people there are? He has selected one portion of mankind; how does He measure whether they can and should be saved? He bases this decision on the paths these people walk. In the Age of Grace, although the truths that God told people were less numerous than today, and not as specific, He could still perfect people at the time, and salvation was still possible. Thus, as for the people of this age who have heard many truths and have come to understand God’s will, if they are incapable of following His way and unable to walk the path of salvation, then what will their final outcome be? Their final outcome will be the same as that of believers in Christianity and Judaism; there will be no difference. This is God’s righteous disposition! Regardless of how many sermons you have heard or how many truths you have understood, if, ultimately, you still follow humans and Satan, and in the end, if you are still incapable of following God’s way and unable to fear Him and shun evil, then such people will be detested and rejected by God. To all appearances, such people who are detested and rejected by God can talk much about letters and doctrines, and may have come to understand many truths, yet they are incapable of worshiping God; they cannot fear God and shun evil, and are incapable of total submission to Him. In God’s eyes, He defines them as part of a religion, as just a group of humans—a gang of humans—and as a lodging place for Satan. They are collectively referred to as Satan’s gang, and these people are utterly despised by God.

Excerpted from “Only by Constantly Living Before God Can One Walk the Path to Salvation” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Previous: 2. What does it mean to believe in God truly?

Next: 4. How does one believe in God in order to cast off their satanic disposition and be saved?

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