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Posts tagged ‘holiness’

TRUE SALVATION … PURE RELIGION

 

“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

– James 1:26-27

 

ONE OF THE WORST MISTAKES a person could make would be to believe that a vain religion is the equivalent of true salvation. Sadly, much of our world has come to equate humanitarian aid and charitable services with “Christianity,” without regard to the condition of the heart of the individual.  AND WHILE TRUE SALVATION IS INVARIABLY ACCOMPANIED BY PURE RELIGION, RELIGION IN AND OF ITSELF IS NOT AN INDICATOR OF SALVATION. In other words, it is possible to be very religious without being saved, but you may not be truly saved without being religious!

IN THE WORDS of the late Elder Carl Ballestero, religion is what man does for God, while salvation is what God does for man. Religion without salvation is empty and worthless (vain); true salvation, on the other hand, will, given time, produce pure religion. We understand from the teachings of James that faith without works is dead; using the same line of reasoning, we could safely say that the absence of “pure religion” indicates a lack of true salvation.

OBVIOUSLY, the presence of “works” in someone’s life does not guarantee that they possess faith; by the same token, being religious does not mean that someone is saved. But pure religion will only be found where true salvation is.

AND WHLE it doesn’t take any special spiritual assistance to “visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,” it is impossible to “keep oneself unspotted from the world” without divine intervention and “things that accompany salvation.” Holiness (sanctification), like righteousness (justification) and cleanness (purification), is conferred upon the true believer (i.e., one who obeys the truth) during the conversion experience. What many have failed to realize is that the Holy Spirit is the “spirit of holiness!” WHEN WE RECEIVE THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST WE ARE EMPOWERED BY JESUS CHRIST TO BE HOLY.

IT IS THE HEIGHT OF FOLLY and absurdity to suggest that someone may receive the Holy Ghost without becoming holy. When we receive His Holy Spirit, we begin to travel upon the “highway of holiness.” Thereafter, through the preaching and teaching of the Word we are made partakers of His holiness, according to Hebrews 12:10. Additionally, the Bible teaches us that we each have individual responsibility in “perfecting holiness” (2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1) and “pursuing holiness” (Hebrews 12:6–15). Indeed, Hebrews 12:14 makes it very clear that without holiness no man shall see the Lord.

IT BEHOOVES US, therefore, to make sure that our religion is PURE and not VAIN. Truly this is a time when many have a FORM OF GODLINESS but DENY THE POWER THEREOF. These are folks who have all the external appearances of true holiness but lack the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. They are spiritual imposters–claiming to be what they really are not. These are contemporary Pharisees.

CONVERSELY, there are many who claim to be Spirit-filled but who still look just like the world; their holiness is in their heart where only God can see it, they claim. Apparently they received “another spirit” than the HOLY SPIRIT that we received. For when we received the Spirit of Christ, we also received the MIND OF CHRIST, and thus we hate even the garment that is spotted by the flesh.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING as inward holiness that does not manifest itself in outward holiness. BE YE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY was not spoken with only the heart in mind. If Jesus rejected the Pharisees in His day who had cleaned the outside of the cup but left the inside dirty, He must also reject the modern-day religionists who claim to be clean on the inside but have no visible signs of separation from the world on the outside.

ISRAEL MARCHED for 40 years in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. And when the day came for Joshua to lead them into the Promised Land, the Lord stopped everything at Gilgal and made them rid themselves of the “reproach of Egypt.” You see, a brand new generation had been born and raised in the wilderness, during which time Moses–THE LAW–had failed to enforce the conditions of the Abrahamic covenant–circumcision. And while the old faithless generation was dying off, the new generation was coming on the scene. But when they attempted to claim the promise of the covenant they were forced to subscribe to the provisions of and receive the seal of the covenant.

WE WOULD DO WELL to heed the admonition of this story. BE WE EVER SO ABLE, STRONG AND FULL OF FAITH TO CLAIM THE PROMISES OF GOD TO HIS CHILDREN, WE ARE NO LESS ACCOUNTABLE TO THE MESSAGE OF HOLINESS THAN WERE OUR FATHERS IN THEIR DAY, OR THE APOSTLES WERE IN THEIRS. It doesn’t matter how loud you shout or how high you jump or how great a move of God you have–you may even have many miracles performed while you are in your wilderness trek; but be assured of this one thing: GOD WILL NOT PERMIT ANYONE TO ENTER THE PROMISED LAND UNTIL THEY HAVE COMPLIED WITH ALL THE TERMS OF HIS COVENANT: Repentance, water baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance, and living a holy, separated life under the care and tutelage of a God-called and anointed shepherd.

TRUE SALVATION is always and forever accompanied by pure religion. Never let it be said that we let Holiness fall to the ground in our day. And when we worship the Lord–which is but another aspect of our religion, let it always be in the BEAUTY OF HOLINESS–holiness that begins in our hearts and works in us until it works its way out of us, and we have been completely clothed therewith.

Rev. Tim D. Cormier

Reprinted from the May, 2001 issue of the Apostolic Standard.
Edited and revised 14 October, 2010 by Tim D. Cormier.

(C) Copyright held by Tim D. Cormier. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, except for personal use, without the express written permission of the author.

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More Than Just A Form

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof….”
–2 Timothy 3:5

 

If we understand this scripture correctly, godliness (piety, right living) has two phases or parts. One is external and visible, and is called the form of godliness; the other is internal and invisible, and is called the power of godliness. We are admonished by the Apostle that there will be some in the last days who will have a form of godliness, but who in fact will be empty of the power of godliness. From such we are instructed to turn away, or, in other words, avoid.

Apparently, the form of godliness can be imitated and manufactured. It is like a glove that reveals the shape of the human hand, even when the hand is removed or withdrawn from it. However, just as the glove without the hand has no power or ability to function, so is the person who merely possesses the form of godliness without the power of godliness.

Such people look like Apostolics, act like Apostolics, and even go through the motions of worship like Apostolics. Yet there is an emptiness to their praise, and their testimony is hollow. Their witness is weak and ineffective. They are spiritually tepid. They have a form of godliness but they lack its power.

We are living in an age where an alarming number of so-called Apostolics are content with merely the form of godliness without also possessing the power of godliness. The great danger in this is that it takes the true power of godliness to maintain a viable walk with God. But because we have had such a heavy emphasis on “externals,” many of our modern Apostolics feel more secure around someone who has a “good standard” than they do around someone who has a “good spirit.”

We are truly living in perilous times. Some of the most godly-looking people have proven to be quite empty of true godliness. The power of godliness works within the lives of those who possess it and creates the form of godliness in them. Those who have the form of godliness but do not have the power of godliness have either imitated those who do have it or have retained the form of godliness from a time in their lives when they actually did possess the power thereof.

It is frightening to consider the amount of spiritual “con artists” that are thriving in the Apostolic ranks these days. Where is our spiritual discernment? Where is the prophet who will rise and rebuke the pretenders and the play-actors? We must have more than merely a form of godliness! And we must avoid those who only possess a form of godliness. How could anyone who truly possessed the power of godliness be comfortable around someone who merely had a form of godliness?

Sometimes our preaching has emphasized adherence to a standard to the exclusion of receiving an understanding of the true nature of God. We often judge others by their “form of godliness” (i.e., their standards of holiness), but when the Son of Man comes He will be looking for FAITH! What a shame it is to consider that Divine Healing is treated as a joke in many conservative Apostolic circles today.

There are congregations that look great, but where is the ability to pray the prayer of faith for the sick? Where is the power to keep ourselves unspotted from the world? Where is the power to love our enemy, and to do good to them who hate us? Where is the power to pray for them who despitefully use us? Where is the power to forgive?

Have we glorified the “earthen vessel” to the point that the “heavenly treasure” has departed from it? Heaven forbid that we would wind up as empty, powerless shells – beautiful gloves with no working hands, or highly polished shoes with no feet to walk in them.

Make no mistake about it: the form of godliness is vital to the power of godliness. But we must never fall into the snare of assuming that because the form of godliness exists the power of godliness invariably accompanies it. We must not confuse outward manifestations of godliness with true holiness. And we must never make final judgments about someone’s standing in God simply because of the way they dress or live up to certain codes.

People who merely have a form of godliness but lack the power of godliness are highly susceptible to deception, and eventually wind up in false doctrine of one sort or another. The reason for this is because the power of godliness derives from the preaching of the Word of God. We are living in the time when man cannot endure sound doctrine, but according their own lusts they have heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they have turned away their ears from hearing the truth, and have therefore been turned unto fables. The end result of this is spiritual impotence due to not hearing the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.

It is possible to dress conservatively and go through all the motions of godliness and still not possess the power of godliness within. This is a dangerous state. When we begin to feel empowered simply because we have a form of godliness, we have been deceived into thinking that is all we need. But we still need to fast and pray and worship God in spirit and in truth. We still have to connect spiritually with the preacher as he ministers to us the Word of God. We must be spiritually energized by the Holy Ghost within us. We receive power after the Holy Ghost comes upon us – power to work, power to witness, power to live an overcoming life.

God forbid that we should possess merely an empty shell of what a true child of God should be. We need more than simply a form of godliness – we need the power of godliness. We need power to intercept new forms of evil before they invade our homes and hearts; we need power to discern what spirits are trying to help us and what spirits are trying to harm us; we need power to overcome the constant downward pull of earth’s gravitational force; we need power to resist the ever-seducing siren’s song of worldly music; we need power to stand up for what is right even when it is not popular or safe to do so; we need power to ferret out all the subtle nuances of the New Age movement that have invaded Christendom; and we need power to defuse the demonic bombs that have been laid in our paths in an attempt to destroy us.

May God help us in these last days to beware lest we succumb to the pressure to settle for just a form of godliness. We must have more than a mere form of godliness – our very survival depends on our possessing the power of godliness.

Rev. Tim D. Cormier

Reprinted from the November, 2002 issue of the Apostolic Standard.

(C) Copyright held by Tim D. Cormier. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, except for personal use, without the express written permission of the author.

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