Meditations on Piety.   Leave a comment

Meditations on Piety.
Many will argue that Piety is an essential part of the Christian life. And as a means it is, how shall any one hoping to follow the Lord in a committed consecrated way not follow the appointed means of Grace, I say “appointed” because many come to Christ in ways not “appointed” Yet it is written in Habakkuk 2:4 “The righteous ( or just) shall live by their faith.
One of the most common errors and heresies is the one that adds effort to salvation. The apostle Paul had lots to contend with in his day, in Galatians 3: 3 he says almost out sheer exasperation “ Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” The goal he is of course he is talking about is the Salvation promised by God to All who come to Him ( John 3:3) So how does one come to Christ then ? , by becoming active in spiritual exercises, like, prayer, Bible reading , attending the Lord’s Supper, observing the Lord’s day ? ( These one should do anyway)
But these means have no end in themselves. From beginning to end Christ has completely satisfied the Justice of God. If Christ has only partially met God’s requirements for Holiness and Justice, and we have “to make up” the difference. Then we consign ourselves to misery and even eternal misery. Anyone who has even once read the Commandments must surely know that he has not kept even one of them. And trying to do so by being pious is like trying to offer God something he hates. God hates, the efforts of the self righteous and the proud. They despise His gracious offer of Redemption and by trying to live holy and pure in their own strength, they belittle the sacrifice of Jesus dying in the place of sinners on the Cross.
The prophets says Habakkuk 2:4 “The righteous ( or just) shall live by their faith. From beginning to end. For us to live wholeheartedly to Jesus and be completely convinced that His death was sufficient for all sin for all those who come to Him, for all time. That is the gospel. Scripture is clear God is both “Just and the Justifier of many” So what of the piety that comes in as a pretender. Well I have indulged in some of these things myself and they only caused confusion, pain and frustration. Lack of Bible knowledge will always leave the door open to those who “add “ religious practices to faith in Jesus. It seems that it is in some way “easier” to follow our own laws than follow the prescription in the Bible.
Pietism has a long history, it requires only “private” devotion and unwavering loyalty to the Leader of the church/denomination. Roman Catholicism requires such devotion. The latest “Emergent Church” movement requires such devotion ( if you don’t like what we say go somewhere else) The Charismatic’s have their own brand of pietism, they have more liking for the gifts than the giver..in my experience of being involved with the their teachings and practices.
The plain fact is God cannot be manipulated or ordered around. God is complete in Himself and does not “need “ to do anything for anybody. He will not and cannot be moved by those who say long prayers ( hoping may to twist God’s arm?”) and those who cloister themselves up and hide themselves from the world they are commanded to live in as a testimony and a light.
In the most dangerous “spiritual state” my soul has been in, was not when I was wild and worldly. It was when I thought I had arrived. This temptation is more common than we think. Even going to church when we use it as an end in itself is sheer idolatry. Christ Himself is to be exalted, and whatever is not done in faith is sin. There is such a thing as “having quite time with you quite time as well. Private devotions are a time for meeting with God. Not by some “spiritual experience” but by reading His Word and prayer. We can do nothing except by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit himself who guides it is not “spiritual disciplines “ like contemplative prayer, or other mind altering practices that makes Christians more like practising Hindus than Bible Professing Christians.
And then there is the practice of some who cast of believers in the name of “church discipline” yes there is such a thing as “church discipline” it is for preserving purity of doctrine and godliness in the life of the believer. “ It is a means of Grace. But some have so grieved many that, they have in many instances would have been lost to the faith if God’s grace had not prevailed.I think specifically of the Pelagianism of earlier centuries, a heresy that states a true believer can fall away from the faith once he has even committed Himself body and soul to Jesus. What blasphemy to say that God is not a promise keeper. When He has said “I will never leave you or forsake you” What right has any man to then still be judge, jury and executioner? God Himself is our Judge, and we may trust Him perfectly to “do what is right!’
This by no means disqualifies the Christian from in fact exercising the means of grace, Bible reading, prayer, submitting to local church body for encouragement and edification. There can still be much said about this, and as is said in Jude “Contend for the faith” contend for what is true, especially for the truth about Jesus. The truth about God’s nature and the plight of man. But here lies the key that will let the despairing Christian out of the prison of fear and deliver them from coming judgements.
Habakkuk 2:4 “The righteous ( or just) shall live by their faith.
Faith in Jesus, faith in His atoning blood that suffices to make the vilest sinner clean. That is saving faith. Jesus plus “nothing” is the gospel. He must be our everything or we will have nothing of Him. Then the most devout self centred religious practices can be just as deadly to everlasting bliss as a those who lived a life steeped in sin and malice.

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Posted January 18, 2010 by Reformed and renewed in Uncategorized

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