Paying for admittance into heaven

(Horatius Bonar, "Bible Thoughts and Themes")

"He saved us--not by works of righteousness that
 we had done, but according to His mercy." Titus 3:5

Ritualism, or externalism, or traditionalism
are all different forms of self-righteousness; man's
self-invented ways of pleasing or appeasing God,
or paying for admittance into heaven. These
forms of self-righteousness are a human apparatus
for procuring God's pardon. They are the means by
which the performer of them hopes to win God's
favor--perhaps, also, man's praise--most certainly,
his own esteem.

Every act, or performance, or ceremony, which honors self,
exalts self, or gives prominence to self--is an accursed thing.
It is an abomination in the sight of God--however religious,
or sacred, or solemn, or devout, it may seem to man.

It is to self-righteousness in some form or other, that man
is always tending. Man attempts to make up for this badness,
or to cover it over, by works, and devotions, and ceremonies.
All this is pure self-righteousness.

The religion of self-righteousness in our day consists
of works, feelings, fancies, music, rites, festivals, fasts,
gestures, postures, garments. It is something which
gratifies self; which pleases the natural man; which
makes a man think well of himself; which gives a
man something to do or to feel in order to earn
pardon and merit heaven. Pride, religious pride, is
at the root. Ritualism is man's expression of rejection
of Christ. It was self-righteous religion which crucified
the Son of God. All human rites and ceremonies are
man's ways of getting rid of Christ. What can all
these things do? Can they save?
Can religious postures save?
Can religious garments save?
Can religious candles save?
Can religious music save?
Can religious architecture save?
Can religious cathedrals save?
No! They lead away from Jesus! They make void
the cross, and trample on His blood!

"He saved us--not by works of righteousness that
 we had done, but according to His mercy." Titus 3:5