Hollow Religion or Filled With the Spirit?

livefaithNo reasonable person would say, “I live right next door to the hospital therefore I will always enjoy good health.”  Or, “my son is an automobile technician so my car will never break down.”  Staying well requires lifestyle choices for health.  Keeping a car in good condition requires regular preventative maintenance.  If we know these things, why do we assume that keeping a Bible on the coffee table, going to church when it is convenient to do so, or writing “Christian” in the place for religion on that application, will produce a transforming faith that leads us to a rich life in the Spirit?

To know Christ, to enter into the true privileges of belonging to God, to be an effective representative of the Kingdom of Heaven while living here on earth, requires daily decisions to live for God; to obey Him, to exercise faith.  It is a serious error to confuse a few ‘spiritual goosebumps’ or sentimental tears shed in a church service with an authentic, robust Spirit-filled life.  The people of Israel took false comfort from the miracles that surrounded them.  As they journeyed from Egypt to Canaan, they were fed with daily manna and led by the cloudy pillar.  “God is with us,” they told each other. “Surely all things are just fine with Him.” But, their hearts remained unmoved and they lived faithlessly albeit near the Lord!

Paul uses their example to urge us to daily obedience. “Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased. The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-7, The Message)

When confronted by a hard choice in the will of God– to enter the Promise Land and possess it – they refused Him, fear overtaking faith. The did this despite all the evidence that God was their Provider, their Defender, their Advocate!  And, their faithlessness brought their demise. “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:10-13, NIV)

God invites us to walk with Him and that means there are choices to be made that will require real faith. Having a religion, having a reputation as a “Christian,” or a family heritage of being churched are insufficient. We must be God-focused, hopeful in Christ, led to the Way that ends in Life!  Paul’s inspired word is a challenge to change: “So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can. I assume I’m addressing believers now who are mature. Draw your own conclusions: When we drink the cup of blessing, aren’t we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn’t it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don’t we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ?” …  “And you can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next.” (1 Corinthians 10:14-16, 21, The Message)

An authentic Christian who is filled with the Spirit, who places faith exclusively in the Person and Work of Jesus is beautiful, powerful, and transformative.  Theirs is a daily walk of faith that endures, that loves, that grows deep and strong despite tests and temptations for they are saying “yes, Lord” and mean it.

Here is the word from the Word.  Embrace it and work out the implications of the salvation you received by faith.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV)
And, say to those who travel through life with you,  “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV)

____________

Here I Am To Worship

 Light of the world,

You stepped down into darkness;

Opened my eyes, let me see:

Beauty that made

This heart adore You,

Hope of a life spent with You!

 

So, here I am to worship,

Here I am to bow down,

Here I am to say that You’re my God!

And You’re altogether lovely,

Altogether worthy,

Altogether wonderful to me.

 

King of all days,

Oh so highly exalted;

Glorious in heaven above!

Humbly You came

To the earth You created,

All for love’s sake became poor.

 

So, here I am to worship,

Here I am to bow down,

Here I am to say that You’re my God!

And You’re altogether lovely,

Altogether worthy,

Altogether wonderful to me.

Tim Hughes

© 2000 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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