Last week, we began our study of Psalm 49 by learning that the psalmist has a message for all peoples: nothing can save you from death except faith in God. Unfortunately, people have all sorts of idols in which they trust, though these idols will not ultimately be able to save them from death.
There are five specific idols identified in this psalm. We have already looked at the idols of money, intelligence, power, and fame. Today, we are going to look at the fifth and final idol: religion.
This idol is extremely prevalent in the Old Testament. God often chided His people for relying on their good works instead of faithfully following Him. In the New Testament, it was the religious people who crucified God when He visited them to save them from their sins. Today, billions of people around the world are relying on religion to save them. Relying on religion—any religion—to save you, is a false faith. It is tragic that so many religious people will one day find themselves in hell.
Please read Psalm 49:13-14.
Verse 13 begins with “this is the path.” You could make this path refer to anything if you take the verse out of context, so let’s see to what path the psalmist is referring. In the previous verses, he writes, “even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish…Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.” If we follow he train of thought from these verses, then the “path” of verse 13 is the path of the perishing.
The religious person knows that the infidel will perish. Contrary to what many talking heads in the media claim, every religion has some claims of exclusivity. Every religious person believes that there is some truth… and they have found it. If they thought another religion was true, then they would practice that religion instead of their own. But they don’t; they practice their religion because they believe that it is the right religion—it is the right way to be right with God.
The Jews in particular were confident that they were God’s chosen people, so they could do no wrong. Over and over, we read of the Israelites worshipping false gods, committing idolatry, adultery, theft, lying, blasphemy, and other horrible crimes. Then they are surprised when God calls them out and judges them for their crimes! These are the people to whom the psalmist refers “who have foolish confidence.” The fool trusts in his religion to save him. Other people think he looks pious and admire his self-discipline in his religious practice, but God sees a fool.
The religious person who trusts in his own good practice of religion is just as lost as the infidel. They are both heading for the same fate: hell.
Whether you believe in Allah, Buddha, Zeus, Nature, holy ancestors, or a pink elephant in the sky, you are lost. Whether you are Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Bahai, Sikh, or Shiite; whether you practice Taoism, Confucianism, spiritism, animism, Jainism, or Judaism, you are lost. Your religion cannot save you. Here the atheist or agnostic might brag, but they are lost as well.
Here is the proof: all men, of every religion in the world, will die. Death is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter what religion you practice, you will die! Only Jesus offers life! Tomorrow, we will take our final look at Psalm 49 by looking at this blessed hope – the only hope which can save us from death.
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