There are those who have argued that Freemasonry is anti-religion. However, this is largely (but not totally) confined to the Catholic Church. This charge the Freemasons dispute strongly. I would have to agree with the Freemasons that Freemasonry is not anti-religion or anti-religious. In fact, Freemasonry is a very good friend to religion, and encourages religion to an extent that many churches do not. In the writings of the major proponents of Freemasonry, it is very clear that they seek to encourage religion as they believe it makes a man a better Mason, and a better citizen.1 Additionally, it is plain in all the rites and rituals, that religion figures prominently in Freemasonry.
However, it is incumbent upon us to realize that religion, and truly being in fellowship with the LORD God are not the same. In fact, one can be, and the vast majority are, quite religious and involved in religion, yet have no fellowship with the LORD God at all. There are some significant examples of this in Scripture that we would do well to pay heed to.
And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Luke 11:37-42)
Now, we must remember that these are the very same people the Lord Jesus referenced in His sermon on the mount at the beginning of His ministry. In this dissertation the Lord plainly stated that the Pharisees possessed a certain righteousness, but that righteousness was not sufficient to enter into the kingdom of heaven:
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)
Thus, as religious as the Pharisees were, they had not sufficient righteousness to enter into the presence of the LORD God as that would require a righteousness that exceeded theirs. This clearly meant that they, as religious as they were, had no personal fellowship with the LORD God. This also the Lord Jesus made plain while preaching on the mount:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)
The logic of this statement the Lord made plain immediately prior to that when he stated:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
The problem the Lord highlights here is one that many have when it comes to understanding how to please the LORD God and be obedient. They think that “good works” are what will justify them before Almighty God, and all they really need is to have more “good” works than “bad” works. However, the reality is there is only one work that one can do which will please the LORD. It is given in the following statement by the Lord Jesus Christ:
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:28-29)
This draws a definitive distinction between religion and what the LORD God actually requires of man. In religion there are rites, rituals and dogma, with the LORD those were never required2 to be justified before Him. No, what the LORD God requires of all men is a personal relationship available only through reconciliation by the blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. This reinforced in Scripture extensively, and that contrast with religion is crystal clear in the following passage:
Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. (Galatians 4:8-11)
Now, is that to say that all religion is worthless? No, not quite. The Scripture does clarify that there is one, and only one religion that is undefiled in the sight of the LORD:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
Which is to say no more or less than what the Lord Jesus Christ answered to the lawyer who asked what the great commandment in the law was:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)
And is confirmed again in the epistle to the Romans:
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
Now, what religion and all its attendant “good works” are woefully deficient in are not the supposed “love” of visiting the fatherless and widows. Rather, it is the love of God and the keeping of oneself unspotted from the world. Like the scribes and Pharisees of the time of Christ, the works that are done in religion are primarily done for the edification of self and justification before God, without any understanding that the first and foremost thing God requires of man is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as only Lord and Saviour. Hence, religions fail in the love of God, and can never please Him. This also the Lord Jesus Christ made clear:
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. (John 14:23-24)
And again from I John:
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (I John 3:22-24)
Knowing these things then, I must ask:
What is the point of religion when I have (which I do), or can have (which anyone can) a personal, one on one relationship with the LORD God of heaven and earth? Moreover, when the LORD God dwells within me, who or what group or organization can make me any better a person than He can?
Thus, though Freemasonry is indeed a friend to religion, it is a friend to an utterly worthless exercise in self-justification that cannot please the LORD God, and cannot gain one entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.
To be continued . . .
- Messages for a Mission, Freemasonry and Religion-Friends or Foes?, Henry C. Clausen, The Supreme Council, 1977, ISBN 77-78489. The use of excerpts from this article are in accordance with the “Fair use” provision of the Copyright Act.↩
- The fact that salvation has always been the same is explained to the post A Departure: Pt. III. It should not be necessary to repeat here the extensive evidence in Scripture of this fact. Additionally, the evidence that the LORD God has always required man to “Repent and believe the gospel” is found in the article What does God Require of Us?↩