Danger of formalism: Spirituality without Reality
Formalism and legalism are two spiritual perils even the most sincere Christian believer could fall if they are not careful enough. Our heartfelt spiritual exercises could slowly become a habit and we could slip away in to a ritualistic approach in our personal spiritual life. Interesting thing is that because of our business with all kinds of religious activities, our impression could be that we are in the right track and do not even hesitate to fight with anyone who questions our true spiritual state.
Just imagine a person who claims to pray six times a day and speaks all kinds of heavenly ideas, yet having no love and compassion for the fellow-believer living next door. What kind of spirituality it is, on one hand claim to be holy, obedient and godly yet none of those spiritual qualities have affected the heart. Same pride, aggressiveness, and arrogance remaining. What a tragedy it is, too many activities, yet no transformation, no spiritual progress or change. The word of God says loudly and clearly that it is just formalism that has nothing to do with reality.
It’s instructive to notice the difference in Christ’s approach when He dealt with some of the worst sinners in the society and the self-righteous Pharisees of His time. How graciously He used words that convicted and comforted those condemned sinners, but unequivocally rebuked the self-righteous religious zealots. Cf. John 8: 4 – 11; Luke 7:37, 50; Matt 23:13, 23 etc.
The Pharisees always considered themselves as the most godly and obedient followers of the law. They thought that there is no one as holy and separated like them. Their attitude is vividly portrayed in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to pray. Luke 18: 9 – 14. Their concept of God, man and spirituality were far from the true biblical revelation, in spite of their strict religious observance of the law. Throughout His public ministry, the Lord Jesus made it a point to explicitly expose the reality behind the ritualistic spirituality of the Pharisees.
Remember, this was not something that occurred all of a sudden. We find such incidents during the days of Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc., also we see similar ceremonial spiritual services that the Lord Almighty often denounced. Cf. Isaiah 1: 10 – 15; 58:1ff; Jeremiah 6:20; 7:21; Amos 5:21 – 23; Micah 6:7, 8. Psalm 50 teaches that even before the times of these prophets, many among the Jews were just formalistic without any substance in their spiritual activities. Cf. Psa 50:5 – 13, 16 – 21.
The repeated declaration of divine displeasure over their vain rituals and corrupt life, through the ministry of those men of God could not reform the Jewish people. Of course, there was always a remnant that followed the Lord and His word sincerely, paying attention to the warnings of the servants of God. That’s exactly the reason why we should never hesitate to expound such words of divine indictment that call upon His people to deplore the ritualistic worship and return to the Lord in truth. It is high time for us who consider ourselves as committed, conservative and true believers to carefully contemplate what would be the Lord’s response to our claims today.
Scripture refers to a number of distinguishing marks of ceremonialism. We will consider seven of those features briefly so that we can evaluate our spiritual lives today. More
Spirituality from heart
Believe in the heart. Romans 10:9 -10
Love from the heart. Matthew 22:37
Sing from the heart. Colossians 3:16
Obey from the heart. Romans 6:17; Ephesians 6:6
Give from the heart. 2Corinthians 9:7
Corona Pandemic – learn from Israel’s wilderness life
Today’s world is in turmoil and it is witnessing some unusual phenomena in every walk of life. The unprecedented occurrences throughout the world threw the people into utter confusion and fear.
Corona Virus occupies the prime talk of the day, news of every TV channel, fear of the masses and worry of the nations. But what are we believers in the Lord, to do? How should we react to this? How should we assess the things and live in the time such as this? Is there any light in the Scriptures?
The Lord God taught them in the wilderness that they were chosen to be His own treasure not because they were numerous but because they were fewest of all peoples, not because they were strong but because of His great love and grace. Deut 7:6-8; 9:4. They were unworthy people.
Let us incline our hearts in the line of this thought that we are chosen and loved by the Lord because of His great love. We are reminded that we are under His arms and His protection surrounds us. More
By Bro. Francis M.L. Chennai
Brief Article:2 -
When Trials Come!
The Problem of Pain
We are surrounded by human suffering and pain. Over the years, I have witnessed young lives being snatched away after succumbing to incurable diseases and accidents, children die at tender ages, infants born with brain tumors, families going through terrible circumstances, people afflicted with mental illnesses, and the list goes on. I have heard prayer requests from devoted born-again Christian parents for their child with a birth defect, for an inoperable tumor, and for reversal of paralysis, among other heartbreaking situations. In most cases, even after some temporary relief, the person stays in the same condition or dies of further complications.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to be part of a study on the roles of Job’s friends, their counsel to Job, and how God was displeased with them. God said, “My wrath is kindled against you [Eliphaz] and your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7). What kindled God’s wrath against Job’s counselors? Certainly, they were not maliciously blaspheming God; they were instead desperately trying to justify God’s actions. While doing so they were accusing Job of secret or hidden sins.
It is wrong to suggest that our actions have no consequences. Jonah fled from the presence of God, and he found himself inside the belly of a big fish, praying for a miraculous deliverance (Jonah 2:1-6). Also it is wrong to suggest that something bad happens only when we do bad things. Job was a righteous man. In Job 1:8, God testified, “For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and righteous man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” His miseries were not the result of secret sins as his friends had falsely claimed. When we act insensitively towards the plights of others, we make the same mistake as Job’s friends. More
By Bro. Tom Johns USA
New Lawyer Tries to Impress His First Client
A brand new lawyer in his brand new office on his first day in practice sees a prospective client walk in the door. He decides he should look busy, so he picks up the phone and starts talking: “Look, Harry, about that amalgamation deal. I think I better run down to the factory and handle it personally. Yes. No. I don’t think 3 million will swing it. We better have Rogers from Seattle meet us there. OK. Call you back later.”
He looks up at the visitor and says, “Good morning, how may I help you?” And the prospective client says, “You can’t help me at all. I’m just here to hook up your phone.”
James S. Hewett
“There is no devil so dangerous as Evangelical formalism.”
_________ J.C. Ryle
“Religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God and heaven without hell”
_________ William Booth (when an American Newspaper asked about the chief dangers ahead of 20th century. )