Scripture says that there is a condition called ‘religiosity’ and it has a form of Godliness yet totally misses the mark. (2 Tim. 3:5 paraphrased) We can speak ‘Christian-eese’, carry a five pound bible under our arm and wave our hands in the air during church service but "pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is the Christian who takes care of orphans and widows, and who remains true to the Lord, not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world." (James 1:27)
On the surface the last part of that statement in James seems very manageable and isn’t given a second thought by many. They presume that they can not be soiled or stained merely because they remain on planet earth after conversion while they confess that "their kingdom is not OF this world." Sadly and too often that is not the case though. As a pastor by the name of Todd Manuel said, "We live in a Bart Simpson universe, so no matter HOW spiritual we are, we WILL get dirt on us."
This is why we need to daily apply the scripture in 2 Cor. 6:17 which says, "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you." It continues, "Beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
There is that word again -- HOLINESS. To me, holiness and spirituality go hand in hand. They cannot be separated. A sign of true spirituality is someone who is dying to self and the ‘things’ of this world. The closer they get to God, the more that the ‘things of this world’ fall off. A truly spiritual person is a humble person. It is not a false humility which can be almost nauseating, neither does he or she walk in pride or arrogance and they are not self-seeking. Since they wear the mantle of humility, he or she will be teachable and not stiff-necked. I love this quote from Pastor Todd’s sermon -- "God knows how to humble a man without degrading him and to exalt a man without inflating him." It’s that simple.
So then we need to ask ourselves ..... no, better yet, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to show us if we truly are dying to self. Have we crucified our flesh? Our opinions? Our preconceived notions? Are we dead to sin and alive instead to Christ and His word through the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit ?
By the way, I am amazed by what some people claim that God has said to them or told them to do. I am shocked because it is totally contrary to scripture and the nature of God, but then that’s another sermon all together.
The apostle Peter asks in 2 Peter 3: 11, "What manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?" He then answers his own question in verses 14 and 16, "Be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.... not like those who are untaught (in the scriptures) and unstable and twist it to their own destruction." He then warns us "not to be lead away with the error of the wicked, but to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Now replace the word ‘wicked’ and use ‘unregenerated by God’ instead. It actually says that we are not to be lead astray with the error of those that have not been born again, because there is a vast difference between the holy and the profane, between good and evil and between darkness and light. There is NO gray area. There is NO neutral ground. We need to understand that something either leads us closer to God or takes us further into the world system. Error will cause us to slip into a quiet rebellion while believing that we are living for God. It will cause our lights to become dim. We will never raise the dead. Our shadows will not heal the sick. We will not walk on water. We will not fulfill the commission of Jesus from Mark 16:19 and 20, even though we might be going to the ends of the earth to preach the gospel."What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin....? God forbid, how shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6: 1-5).
I leave you with the words of Martin Luther -- "Keep putting us to death (to our carnal nature) Lord Jesus, even as you began in our baptism."
Copyright Donna Martonfi www.psalm40ministries.com