1. Jesus Christ was not anti-religious, as some have asserted. Nor is “spirit” opposed to religion. Yet it is the case that many religions are anti-Christian, and that just as many are unspiritual.
2. The word religion having fallen into disrepute in some Christian circles is a great sign—of despair. Contempt for the word is a proactive psychological defense against possible accusations of self-righteousness and pharisaism. This defense is rooted in fear, not a holy fear that might actually guard us from self-righteousness, but an anxiety of appearing self-righteousness to others. In a horrible twist, a fear of appearances—which sets up the human, not God, as the criterion of faith—causes these Christians to reject a powerful word that can signify how strongly bound together are their actual way of life and their inner convictions.
3. You must remember that appearing to be self-righteous and being self-righteous are not the same. For seeming, a human is your judge. For being, God is. But have no fear of humans. You being righteous in truth, if someone accuses you of self-righteousness because of a misinterpreted appearance, you only have to let your conduct silence the accuser. Only by the highest judge’s gracious declaration does a man become righteous, so such a man has no need to answer an accusation of self-righteousness in a human court. If he does, as soon as he does, such a man has despaired, has forgotten that God alone is his righteous judge and his righteousness.