Occasionally when I ask someone if he would study the Bible with me, his reply is, “No, I’m satisfied with my religion.” That calls for a brief Bible study about satisfied people.
Jesus once told a story about a wealthy landowner whose holdings had produced abundantly. This satisfied man’s words were, “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry’” (Luke 12:19). “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’” (v. 20).
The Pharisee in another of Jesus’ stories was a satisfied religious man. He went up to the temple and prayed, “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (Luke 18:11-12). Despite the Pharisee’s self-satisfaction, Jesus, who is our final judge, said this man was not justified before God (v. 14).
Saul of Tarsus was satisfied with his religion. He said he was “advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions” (Galatians 1:15). “So I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is just what I did . . .” (Acts 26:9-10). The problem was, neither those ancestral traditions nor Saul’s own notions were what God wanted. The fact that numbers of people believe something or that it has been believed for a long time or that I personally believe it does not make it so! To Saul’s credit, he was honest enough to change when he learned the truth.
The church at Laodicea was satisfied, too. They said, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17a). The Lord said, “You do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (v. 17b).
These examples illustrate that people may be satisfied with their religion, whereas God is most dissatisfied with it! To please Him we must follow His standard, which brings us to the need for ongoing Bible study.
Saul later wrote this warning about becoming too satisfied in our service to God: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude. . .” (Philippians 3:12-15a).