Faith is More Than Words

Zechariah 7:4-7 ESV

“Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: ‘Say to all the people of the land and the priests, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? Were not these the words that the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?”’”

Is it for God Really?

Many people today are professing a faith in Jesus Christ which is a false faith, a faith of human origin, not of God, for it does not submit to Christ as Lord, nor does it forsake one’s sins or walk in obedience to Jesus Christ and to his commandments (New Covenant).

These professers of faith in Jesus Christ may or may not portend the true gospel of our salvation, but if they do, they are not living it. They are going through the motions of religion, attending church services, involved in church activities, and maybe are even involved in church ministries.

But they aren’t working for the Lord. For, their hearts are far from God. So, they are doing it for themselves, perhaps to look good to others, or perhaps to gratify their own fleshly desires for recognition, praise, attention, and the like. But it is lip service only, for they still walk in the flesh.

Religion for them has become an emotional experience, a feeling of euphoria that they get from the music or from the crowds of people (where there are still crowds). For, it has become more of a social event and a Christianized version of the entertainment that the world is offering.

But, since the gospel message that is largely being taught and accepted is not teaching the critical nature of submission to Christ, of repentance (ongoing), and of walks of obedience to our Lord, as our faith in action which is required for salvation from sin and for eternal life with God, many of them are living no different from those who make no profession of faith in Jesus.

And especially since the primary gospel being spread like wildfire now, at least here in America, claims we do nothing – no submission to Christ, no repentance, and no obedience – because they say that is works-based salvation, many professers of faith in Christ are living in sin while claiming that they have eternal life with God secured.

Many of them, in fact, are porn addicts, lust addicts, adulterers, liars, cheats, manipulators, tricksters, abusers, and unfaithful, who are addicted to the lusts of the flesh and the high that they get from that, and who then make excuses for why they aren’t free, or who then claim that they are free positionally, so they believe their sin no longer matters to God.

Zechariah 7:8-12 ESV

“And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.’ But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets.”

More Than Words

When we read the New Testament, book by book and verse by verse, and we get what it teaches us in context, we soon realize that what God requires of us for salvation from sin and for eternal life with God is a faith that is acted out in our every day lives in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit, as we cooperate with his work of grace in our lives.

Our Lord wants more than words. He wants action! He doesn’t want us just mouthing the words “I love you,” but he wants us proving our love for him by what we do in obedience to him. And obedience to Christ is walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and it is daily dying with Christ to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Co 6:19-20; Titus 2:11-14]

And this isn’t about following a set of rules or some religious requirements, for we may be rule followers but not be Christ followers. For, it is those of us who are being led by the Holy Spirit who are the children of God. And it is us who are walking (in conduct) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh who have eternal life with God (Rom 8:1-17; Rom 6:1-23).

And the Lord is sending out his messengers now to speak these truths to their hearts, to expose to them the lies they are believing, and to reveal to them the truth of what God’s word teaches. But many are refusing to hear the truth, and they are stopping up their ears, because they prefer the lies to the truth, because the lies allow them to keep living in their sin.

Zechariah 7:12-14 ESV

“Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts. ‘As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.’”

Judged by Our Deeds

God judging his wayward people, or those who falsely profess his name but who are living to themselves while claiming his salvation for themselves, is not just Old Testament teaching. It is taught in the New Testament, too.

We read in 1 Peter that we are to obey our Lord, and we are not to live in the passions of our flesh, but that we are to be holy in all our conduct, for we will be judged by our deeds, so we are to conduct ourselves in the fear of the Lord. And we read, too, that judgment begins with the household of God (cf. Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:30-31).

We read in 1 Corinthians 11 that we are to examine ourselves before taking communion, for if we partake in the remembrance of our Lord in an unworthy manner, we eat and drink judgment on ourselves. But if we genuinely judge our own hearts and lives, and we conform to Christ and to his standards, we will not be judged.

“But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world” (1 Co 11:32; cf. Heb 12:1-13; Rev 2-3).

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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