FALSE STANDARDS OF FAITHFULNESS
If I asked, "Do you consider yourself a religious person?" how would you prove
that you were? Typically a person would use things like these:
- I own a Bible.
- I believe in God.
- I go to church regularly.
- I watch religious television programs.
- I do not drink, smoke, gamble, or approve of "ungodly habits."
If I asked, "Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?" how would you prove that you
were? Typically a person would use things like these.
- I pray every day.
- I read the Bible every day.
- I use at least 10% of my income to support these religious activities.
- I am pro-life.
- I oppose ungodly lifestyles.
If I asked, "Do you consider yourself a Christian?" how would you prove that you
were? Typically we would use these things.
- I was baptized at "Y" age.
- I am a "faithful" member of the church.
- I take the Lord's Supper every Sunday.
- I participate in church ministries.
- I endorse lives and activities approved by the church.
- I oppose lives and activities condemned by the church.
What would it demonstrate, what would it declare, what would it prove if a
- I believe that Jesus is Lord and Christ.
- I believe his death on the cross atoned for my sins.
- I trust the power of his resurrection to raise me from the dead.
- I believe that the forgiveness of all sin is made possible by Jesus' blood.
- I believe that God used Jesus to redeem me from Satan and my sin.
- I believe God made me a part of His family when I placed my life in Christ.
- My faith in Jesus determines the way I treat God, the way I treat people, and the way I
live my life every day.
Read Colossians 2:6-23.
- When people who are not Christians become Christians, they always bring
religious baggage with them into their new relationship with God.
- Before most men and women are converted:
- They have a system to determine right and wrong.
- They have a concept of integrity.
- They have a list of "innocent" sins and a list of "horrible" sins.
- They have convictions about good and evil, about wise and foolish, about
spiritually destructive and what is harmless.
- When most men and women are converted:
- The religious systems and convictions they had before conversion are
superimposed on Christianity.
- What was religious before conversion becomes Christian after conversion.
- What was spiritual before conversion becomes Christian after conversion.
- What were "things that concern God" before conversion become Christian
focus after conversion.
- This is the baggage we bring with us at conversion.
- The baggage we bring with us becomes the unquestioned truth of our
children and grandchildren.
- "Where did you get that idea?"
- "I did not 'get' that idea anywhere--it's the truth!"
- "Where did you get those standards?"
- "I did not 'get' these standards anywhere--it's the truth!"
- "Where did you learn that concept?"
- "I did not 'learn' that concept anywhere--it's the truth!"
- It is amazing to discover how many of our convictions came from someone
else's baggage, not from Jesus Christ.
In Colossians 2:16-23 Paul addressed the problem of baggage in the church at
- "Jewish Christians, you accepted Christ when you understood Christ
fulfilled God's promise to Abraham; pagan Christians, you accepted Christ
when you understood the need to turn from pagan gods to the living God;
now trust Christ to be 100% sufficient."
The Jewish Christians at Colossae thought a Christian needed Christ and
- If Jesus Christ is Lord, then let him exist as your Lord in your life.
- Let Christ guide your life every day because he is Lord.
- Sink your roots deep in Christ, make your faith solid in Christ, be grateful for
- All you need is Christ; he is everything.
- He is the fullness of deity who lived in a human body.
- He makes you spiritually complete.
- He is the ultimate power, the highest form of authority.
- He cut away from you all evil when you were baptized.
- He destroyed every form of ceremonial ordinances that opposed us.
- You do not need Christ and something else; you only need Christ.
The Christians who had been pagans at Colossae thought a Christian
needed Christ and pagan rites.
- "You need Christ and kosher foods."
- "You need Christ and the Jewish religious calendar."
- "You need Christ and the Sabbath rituals."
- "You need Christ and self-denial."
- "You need Christ and abuse of the physical body."
- "You need Christ and the worship of angels."
- "You need Christ and pagan visions."
- Or, if you look at them as a unit, "You need Christ plus pagan religious
Why did they think that way?
- Jewish Christians thought that way because Jewish critics in Colossae
said, "If you were truly spiritual people, you would:
Christians converted from paganism thought that way because pagan
religious leaders in Colossae said, "If you were really spiritual people, you
- "Eat and drink a kosher diet."
- "Follow the Jewish religious lunar calendar."
- "Keep the Sabbath day rituals."
- "That is what people who are truly spiritual do."
All of this was what Paul was talking about when he spoke of those who
took them captive through philosophy and empty deceit according to
men's tradition and the world's elementary principles.
- "Be practicing physical self-denial."
- "Be abusing your physical body."
- "Be worshipping the angels."
- "Be having visionary experiences."
- People outside of Christianity said, "Truly spiritual people do these things."
- Since that is the way converts demonstrated spirituality before conversion to
Christ, they were easily deceived by these false standards of spirituality.
- These former standards were their baggage.
- Paul said do not let any one judge your spirituality by these standards.
- It is not faith in Christ plus these practices that make you spiritual.
- All you need to be spiritual is faith in Christ; that is 100% of everything you
need to be God's person.
- Faith in Christ determines how you live.
- Faith in Christ determines what you do.
- Faith in Christ makes you acceptable to God.
It is very easy to react by saying, "They were so ridiculous! How could they
not know better than that!"
- And as we condemn their foolishness, we are just as foolish as we do the
- "Is he a deeply spiritual Christian?"
- "Oh, yes!"
- "He insists that the church use only one song leader at a time."
- "He insists that the Lord's Supper use unfermented grape juice."
- "He would not dream of 'waiting on the table' without a suit and tie."
- "He demanded that the elders offer an invitation song at every assembly."
- "He teaches that faithful Christians use the King James Version."
- "He refuses to listen to any religious song that uses instrumental music."
- "He does not drink, smoke, gamble, go places where people drink, shop
in stores that sell beer, go to the movies, or allow a televison in his
- "What does he say about:
- "Jesus' atoning death?"
- "Jesus' redemption?"
- "Jesus' forgiveness?"
- "Jesus' blood?"
- "Jesus' resurrection?"
- "Newness of life in Jesus?"
- "Jesus' sanctification?"
- "I never heard him discuss any of those things. He is just interested in
How many times do we use standards to measure spirituality that have nothing
to do with Jesus Christ? How many times do we declare ourselves spiritual without any
consideration of Jesus Christ?
No one needs Jesus plus anything else to be spiritual. The kind of faith in Jesus
that trusts his forgiveness and changes your life makes you God's child.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
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