There is no place for religion when it comes to having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the turning point in life for born-again Christians. (In reality, there are NO Christians who are not born again, in the words of Jesus Himself.)
Born again Christians are those who have Jesus alive in their hearts, converted from the deadness of the Law into the Life of the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus. These are those Paul refers to as, “the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
There is no place for religion in relationship with Christ, because the flesh must be put to death and not built up or reformed by all religion seeks to accomplish. This is why EVERY form of religion known to man, (including that which goes under the guise of ‘Christianity,’) can be proven to have been designed by man, and not God – in that every form of religion exalts the man practicing the religion in his own estimate of himself. There is none of this found in God’s Word.
This is why it makes no sense to revel in whatever past religious experience you may have been involved in. They are all worth nothing in God’s eyes. Perhaps less than nothing, since it is the construct of religion which serves to inhibit many a man from coming to Christ, thinking they have accomplished “goodness” through the practice of their religious rites. This is particularly true of the dead denominational Church, which is represented by Jesus’ 7th Letter to the 7thChurch found in Revelation 3.
Jesus said of this religious deadness, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” In Matthew 5, Jesus said, “that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
These are strong statements meant to give Jesus’ assessment of ALL religious practice: It is counterfeit.
Here Paul is saying, “I HAD the righteousness of a Pharisee. I WAS a Pharisee! And all that means nothing to me now. It is trash. Dung. Refuse!”
And now Paul rejoices, finding himself not in his own righteousness – but being born again and finding himself in the righteousness of Christ Jesus, the Lord.