Monday, September 29, 2014

A "Form of Religion" But Not the Real Thing

A "Form of Religion" (But Not the Real Thing)
It seems that one of Satan's most effective strategies is to get the professing people of God to get caught up with a 'form of religion' that substitutes for the real thing in our lives (cp. 2 Tim.3:5). Recognizing these man-made substitutes is a first step in resisting them. Along this line, Jonathan Leeman posts on a schema of seven counterfeit gospels, as cited in How People Change by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp.

1. Formalism. “I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the church, so I feel like my life is under control. I’m always in church, but it really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental and impatient with those who do not have the same ‘commitment’ as I do.”  I honor the Lord with my lips, but my heart is far from him.

2. Legalism. “I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant and full of contempt when others don’t meet the standards I set for them. There is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated.”  My obedience is not fueled by a deep gratitude for grace, but from a desperately sought pride in my performance.

3. Mysticism. “I am engaged in the incessant pursuit of an emotional experience with God. I live for the moments when I feel close to him, and I often struggle with discouragement when I don’t feel that way. I may change churches often, too, looking for one that will give me what I’m looking for.”

4. Activism. “I recognize the missional nature of Christianity and am passionately involved in fixing this broken world. But at the end of the day, my life is more of a defense of what’s right than a joyful pursuit of Christ.”  I’m very involved and consider myself more hard-working for the kingdom than most, but I am preoccupied with whether or not other people recognize and affirm me.

5. Biblicism. “I know my Bible inside and out, but I do not let it master me. I have reduced the gospel to a mastery of biblical content and theology, so I am intolerant and critical of those with lesser knowledge.”  I have let myself become only a hearer, but not a doer of God’s Word.

6. Therapism. “I talk a lot about the hurting people in our congregation, and how Christ is the only answer for their hurt. Yet even without realizing it, I have made Christ more Therapist than Savior. I view hurt as a greater problem than sin—and I subtly shift my greatest need from my moral failure to my unmet needs."

7. “Social-ism.” “The deep fellowship and friendships I find at church have become their own idol. The body of Christ has replaced Christ himself, and the gospel is reduced to a network of fulfilling Christian relationships.”

No comments: