The Bible’s answer
Illustrating how to tell the difference between those who practice true religion and those who do not, the Bible says: “By their fruits you will recognize them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they?” (Matthew 7:16) Just as you can distinguish a grapevine from a thornbush by what it produces, you can distinguish true religion from false by its fruits, or by these identifying features.
True religion teaches the truth that is based on the Bible, not on human philosophies. (John 4:24; 17:17) This includes religious truths about the soul and the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth. (Psalm 37:29; Isaiah 35:5, 6; Ezekiel 18:4) It also does not hold back from exposing religious falsehood.—Matthew 15:9; 23:27, 28.
True religion helps people to know God, including teaching them his name, Jehovah. (Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 42:8; John 17:3, 6) It does not teach that he is incomprehensible or aloof; rather, it teaches that he wants us to have a relationship with him.—James 4:8.
True religion promotes unselfish love. (John 13:35) It teaches respect for all ethnic groups and welcomes people from all races, cultures, languages, and backgrounds. (Acts 10:34, 35) Moved by love, its members do not go to war.—Micah 4:3; 1 John 3:11, 12.
True religion is completely neutral in political affairs. (John 17:16; 18:36) However, its members respect and obey the government where they live, in harmony with the Bible’s command: “Pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar [representing the civil authority], but God’s things to God.”—Mark 12:17; Romans 13:1, 2.
True religion is a way of life, not just a ritual or a formality. Its members adhere to the Bible’s high moral standards in all aspects of life. (Ephesians 5:3-5; 1 John 3:18) Rather than being grim, though, they find joy in worshipping “the happy God.”—1 Timothy 1:11.
True religion is not just ‘the right religion for me’
There is a danger in choosing a religion based solely on how it makes us feel. The Bible foretold a time when people would “surround themselves with [religious] teachers to have their ears tickled.” (2 Timothy 4:3) In contrast, the Bible encourages us to follow “the religion that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father,” even if that religion is unpopular.—James 1:27, footnote; John 15:18, 19.
Regardless of your background, it is possible to understand God’s message in the Holy Scriptures.
If you belong to a religious organization, you are, in effect, putting your spiritual life and your salvation in its hands.