"...you are very religious."There is an
"...you are very religious."
There is an eternity of difference between being religious and being truly spiritual. By religious I mean one who is deeply involved in religious activity and spiritual as one who is wholly submitted to and living by the leading and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Let's consider these two concepts and examine ourselves to see whether or not we are truly "in the Faith."
Religion is defined as those external disciplines, activities and rituals that provide the context by which we express our relationship with God. Religion is not bad. It is necessary to daily live out our faith. Religion becomes bad and even fatal when substituted for relationship. It is hypocrisy to express a relationship with God that doesn?t exist. For all practical purposes it doesn?t exist if you don?t pursue it.
My dear wife and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this year. We are not celebrating just an event that happened 30 years ago, but rather a half a lifetime of shared memories of living life together. Of course not all of those memories have been pleasant but by the grace of God we prayed and loved each other through them all and I can say without equivocation that our love for one another is far richer now than when we were first married. I really didn?t know her then the way I know her now. Suppose I had deserted her on our wedding night and had no contact with her for 30 years and showed up on her doorstep on May 15, 2012 with a bunch of roses to celebrate our 30 years of marital bliss! I had better like the taste of roses because at least half of them would be stuffed into my mouth!
"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name'" 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' " [Matthew 7:22?23]
Christ came for the express purpose of restoring, through the blood of the Cross, the broken relationship with the Father that we all inherited through Adam's fall. It is this restored relationship with The Father that must be kept preeminent.
Our ultimate destiny as a member of the Bride of Christ is to be ushered into the blessed fellowship the Trinity has enjoyed together from eternity! There is no greater blessing, privilege or honor than becoming one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Religion becomes bad, very bad, when it becomes a substitute for that relationship.
As long as our disciplines, activities and rituals reflect the reality of a deepening relationship of love and spring from an authentic devotion to God they are good and even necessary. When referring to seeking an intimate relationship of love with God, I?m not speaking here of pursuing feelings or spiritual experiences; we walk by faith and not by sight. Emotions and spiritual experiences are nothing more than a kiss from God. They can become as much of an idol to draw out hearts away from true intimacy with God as anything else. We believe that God draws near to us when we draw near to Him because He said He would in His Word not because we feel Him near! The moment the focus of our heart, for any reason, shifts from a faith relationship with God as the essence of eternal life [John 17:3] and puts its confidence in religious forms, spiritual experiences, or anything else, it becomes an idol.
Why would anyone turn from a vital relationship with God that truly transforms the inner man to powerless religious forms that at best can only modify outward behavior? The reason is beautifully expressed in the Master?s own words from John 3:19?21
"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." [1 John 1:5] We are all darkness! If we have any light at all, it is only the light of the indwelling Christ. Religion practiced apart from authentic relationship is our vain attempt to avoid dealing with the often painful disclosure of the darkness in our heart. That disclosure must occur when we approach the light or rather, when the light approaches us.
God is love, His incomprehensible love was finally expressed through the Cross where Christ fully satisfied the most stringent demands of His justice. Children of light are those who have put their confidence in Christ's perfect atonement and received as a free gift, His robes of righteousness. They run into the light as beloved children run into the arms of their father! They know as painful as it may be to have His light expose the darkness and depravity of their heart, it is never to condemn but only to heal, deliver and make free!
Father, I ask Your forgiveness for any way in which I have sought to avoid Your searching eyes of love by immersing myself in religious activity! I cast from me any vain hope of covering my sin or impressing You by my own carnal efforts. I believe that in exposing the darkness of my heart, your kind intension is only to bring healing, deliverance and freedom. Show me the idols of my heart that I might confess, forsake and receive Your unfailing mercies! Let me have nothing to do with those who have a form of religion but deny its life changing power. In Jesus? Name! Amen!!
Created 11 months ago