Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.
Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of the Journey in St. Louis, has a great comparison-contrast on the difference between "religion" and the gospel he's adapted from Tim Keller. (HT Paulus Tignarius)
Here are a few of my favorites:
Religion: “I obey-therefore I’m accepted.”
Gospel: “I’m accepted-therefore I obey.”
Religion: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
Gospel: Motivation is based on grateful joy.
Religion: I obey God in order to get things from God.
Gospel: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.
Religion: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
Gospel: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.
Religion: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
Gospel: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism. That’s how I became a Christian.
Religion: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
Gospel: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.
Religion: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble, but not confident-I feel like a failure.
Gospel: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am simul iustus et peccator—simultaneously sinful and lost yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.
I find it interesting how prone we are as humans to revert back to a religiosity that nullifies the cross, trying to manipulate our deity, as did/do the pagans.
I might add one of my own:
Religion: People reaching up to God, trying to appease Him and merit His favor.
Gospel: God taking the initiative to reach people, ultimately seen in the incarnation of Christ.