Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Having a Form of Godliness, but Denying the Power

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7

Another translation says:
They will appear to have a godly life, but they will not let its power change them. Stay away from such people. 2 Timothy 3:5

When we are truly born again and the Holy Spirit is abiding within us we WILL BE CHANGED! We will be given a new heart, a new tongue that edifies Christ, a desire to please Christ, a hatred towards sin, and a love for the unlovable.  I truly believe we are living in the last days and we need to examine ourselves to see if we are really in the faith. Because if we're not truly in the faith, we may be teaching our children to be religious, but not leading them to Christ.   The people that 2 Timothy mentions probably believes they are saved.  Afterall, they are "religious".  They probably go to church, read their Bibles, avoid the "big sins",  recite scripture, are involved in ministry.  They think they are doing pretty good spiritually compared to the world around them.  They don't cuss, smoke, commit adultery- you know the BIG sins.  Yet we think God will overlook gossip, slander, bitterness, living a selfish life.  Little do they know, they are worse off than those who haven't heard the gospel.  How much greater condemnation will we have who have heard the gospel, but refuse to let it change us?  Everyone wants Jesus as their Savior, but not their Lord.   No amount of good works or attempts at personal holiness will be sufficient to save your soul at death.  You might live a moral life and have a godly appearance, but we are saved ONLY by grace, through faith- faith in the Jesus of the Bible- not the god that some have made up in their heads.  Jesus died to save us from the power of sin- in THIS lifetime.

 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

To call ourselves a christian and still live in our sin is to have a form of godliness, but deny it's power. In Christ we can have victory over sin!! We don't have to live in bondage! And if we do sin, we have an Advocate- our Father Jesus Christ to forgive us and cleanse us from our sin. Praise Jesus! Let your sin drive you to the cross, closer to Jesus- not in denial of Christ's power to save your from your sin.  Don't give up in defeat, thinking "I guess that's just the way it has to be". "It's o.k., we all sin". 

Some people read Matthew 1:21 and think of it as past tense- "I was saved from my sin, and now I'm free to live how I want."  They think they can continue to live a self seeking life as long as they add on good works, church attendance, and moral behavior.  Jesus isn't meant to be added to our life, but to be our very life!  We don't hear this much anymore from the pulpit and we like it that way.  We want to hear smooth words, not knowing that we're on our way to hell because we've refused the Jesus of the Bible. 

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Our religion is not enough to save us.  We need Jesus- He is the only Way! When we realize how hopeless we are without Christ it changes the way we live, the way we see others.

I listed a few questions to ask yourself to see if you're maybe just religious? 

1.  Do you try to gain God's approval by your own good works? 
Spirit filled believers have good works because it's God who works in us to will and to do for His good pleasure.  We know that the only reason that we do anything good is because Christ is in us.  Apart from Christ we can do nothing. 
2.  Do you seek to draw attention to yourself, always wanting to be recognized or do you seek to  bring glory to God?
3.  Do you do things for others out of guilt, to build yourself a reputation, to gain approval, or because the love of God in you compels you to do so?
4.  Do you constantly look down on others because their not as "spiritual" as you? This is what the religious Pharisees would do.
5.  Are you proud of yourself for being so holy and seldom have anything to repent of?
6.  Do you guard your reputation, wanting others to think much about you, or much about Christ?
7.  What comes out of your mouth?  Are you giving all the glory and honor to Christ who has saved you only because of His grace through faith?  A heart that has truly been born again can not help but praise God.  It makes me sad to hear of people that give credit to their parents or their pastor for the life they have today when that credit belongs only to Jesus Christ.  Yes, we as parents and pastors play a huge role in sharing the gospel, but ultimately it's Jesus alone who produces the change of heart.  Only Christ can give us a new heart and new desires.  It's Christ in us that makes the difference!

If after reading this post you feel convicted,  all you have to do is confess your sin to God.  Ask Him to give you a new heart and His Holy Spirit to enable you to live a godly life.  Acknowledge to Christ that He is your only hope and without Him you will surely perish.  Praise Him for His mercy, grace, and forgiveness!

Truly, His mercy is new every morning- great is Thy faithfulness!

I know this message may sound harsh to most, but if it can help just one of my readers realize they are not truly born again then it is worth it.  I was at one time only religious. I truly thought I was saved because I had said the "sinners prayer".  I lived a life that was not much different than my previous lifestyle. I changed some things on the outside and started living a somewhat "moral" lifestyle.  It wasn't until God opened my eyes and helped me see that I was just a religious Pharisee that looked down on others, when I was the one that needed saved from my own sin, pride, self-righteousness.  I still struggle with the tendency to be religious, but I let it drive me closer to Christ.  Truly, without Christ we are desperately wicked.  It makes me love Him all the more! Hearing Truth hurts, but the reward for obeying the Truth is peace and joy found only in Jesus.  Let God's Truth transform you.  Say no to living for yourself and worldly pleasures and yes to Jesus who became poor so you can be rich in Him by the salvation of your soul. 

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