Religion most often means an institutionalized or personal system of beliefs and practices. We can make a religion of anything that we are devoted to. My religion is Christianity. There are a set of practices that are associated with the Christian religion, but I think my Christian belief encompasses much more that a set of practices or rules of behavior.
As a Christian, I submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and King of my life, meaning He has complete authority over me. He owns my life because of His sacrifice for my sin.
Let's look at some common sins.
Lying, cheating, greed, failure to offer apology when it is due, failure to forgive when it is needed, short changing God on worship, neglecting worship when we are too busy or when more important events come up, unkindness, selfishness, ignoring the needs of others, etc.
These are all sins that the world considers to be common behavior or only insignificant transgressions. Some activities may even be encouraged, depending on your circle of friends and acquaintances. The Bible says that these are common practice for those who are actually living under the king of this world.
Satan, the king of this world has blinded unbelievers, so that they can't see the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (paraphrased)
2 Corinthians 4:4
Everyone sins, even Christians. This is why Jesus died on the cross - to save us from our sins. We each indulge in many of these sins every week or even every day. When we stop to think about our behavior - if we take time to think about it - we know it is wrong. How do we know? Because our mothers taught us better, or we learned it in Sunday school or we read it in the Bible. We will try to do better next time.
It seems to me that there needs to be a better way of dealing with our sinful nature than simply remembering the rules. It is our natural human state to fall into or to sometimes charge into sin. However, if the Holy Spirit is indeed alive in us, every time we sin, we will feel the pain of that sin. We will begin to be naturally drawn away from sinful behavior and toward godly behavior however odd that godly behavior appears to others.
A living faith draws us toward worship, not away. Living faith leads us into faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, love, kindness, patience, forgiveness, and self-control. This is called the fruit of the Spirit. Allowing God's Holy Spirit to rule produces noticeable results.
If I depend on what I learned at my mother's knee or what I learned in Sunday school or even what I am hearing in church on Sunday mornings to cause me to become a better person, I will be disappointed. All of those things are valuable but living breathing faith is the Holy Spirit living within me, guiding, prompting and convicting.
Living faith does not come instantly or easily to most of us. The kind of faith that produces a godly life comes from:
- Agreeing with God that what He calls sin is actually sin and is unacceptable.
- Turning away from sin and toward Jesus Christ.
- Accepting His loving forgiveness when we don't live up to the rules of behavior.
- Dedicating every new day to the Lord.
- Maintaining constant communication with Him through reading and hearing His word, and through prayer.
- Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and spending quiet time listening to the Spirit's prompting.
Unfortunately, ungodly, sinful living is accepted and encouraged by the god of this world. Fitting in often means being deaf to the Spirit's prompting. If you claim Jesus Christ as Lord and King, be sure that you are developing a relationship with His Holy Spirit who resides within you.
| || || |