Orthodoxy kills Orthopraxy whenever and wherever absent the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit is given so the totality of our existence may become a sea of Life. “The Spirit gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life.” We must have both.
I believe a great void endangers much of the modern church. I fear this terminal cancer gains ground in many modern conservative evangelical circles. (But hey, who am I? Thankfully as one recently and most pointedly reminded me: I am a nobody. But as a nobody I do know a Somebody, and that is all the encouragement I need. I have no creds but those I present: I am attached to the Vine and the Vine gives glorious life to the branches as we abide in Him. Is there life in another? So whether you like it or not, that establishes my life and my credibility for His Name’s sake. That’s funny isn’t it? A nobody with creds… and some hate that, because I know the King and have an invitation to His wedding, the same as they do. “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests of our God…” (Damn Reformation!)
It would seem the Spirit of Christ has been disinvited by many for fear of man’s (our) exposure of fraudulent practices of a cold heart often in light of right teachings, “But He when He comes will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness and concerning judgment…” Now who in their carnal mind wants that? To be exposed as a fraud? As a hypocrite? None but the truly penitent man who sees God high and lifted up as he is bent low in true worship.
Yet we hear resounded in unison chorus, “Not me!” from the pastors of the First & Second & Third Church of The Only-Most-Anointed Ones. “We are well content in our self-described-darkness, so please, leave us be!”
Ok. We can do that. But first a word of warning by perhaps only a poor attempt to clear up a thing or two…before I go. “Even a bad shot is dignified when he accepts a duel.” GK Chesterton (Love me some GKC)
How can we tell this infection or condition exists? The fruits. It’s always the fruits. Fruits are EVER reflective of the good or ill condition of the inner heart or state of being of the body. “What’s in the heart comes out the mouth.” Squeeze a man by truth and the Spirit and see what eeks out of him, out of his character flaws, to get small clue what sort of wrath/anger/malice/ bitterness/vindictiveness/ lack of love/ jealousy/covetousness/ etc may be eating away at him, hidden from the eye of man, but known of God. Pressure and stress tell a true story of the soul’s actual state before the discerning eye of the Word of God. All things are open and laid bare to the Word. Pretense is only superficial and only skin deep. God annihilates it with a breath.
Back on track…
So it’s the fruits beginning with the fruits of repentance brought forth by restoration from the scourge of religious hypocrisy. A hardened hypocrite hates exposure as such, and is blinded by his narrow perception of light to the reality of his deeds. Yet the gospel of grace enables each of us from our particular point of need and hypocrisy to turn from said hypocrisy by bringing forth the fruit of repentant deeds which are Spirit-born and that develop into the responsible actions fleshed out by demonstrable acts manifested by the Spirit-wrought fruits to His glory. We speak of gospel-empowered growth and gospel-driven progression over the long haul of our Christian walk before God. It’s a marathon race, remember? Fruit must grow and mature; or else it rots and falls to the ground. (Fruit must also be utilized in a timely manner or else it becomes rubbish for the swine.) “Against such things (good fruit of the Spirit) there is no law” or limitation. Make the tree good and the fruit good…” We know what happens to bad trees that produce no fruit or that make BAD fruit… (I just pushed up two in my back pasture last week. Why take up my space and ground? They are slated to be burned!)
Biblical Truth has always lived (or died) by recognition and responsive action to this threat or assault upon right living that desires to camp a mere 18 inches above the heart and between our ears only. This assault is relentless and ubiquitous on all fronts simultaneously. Its subtlety is its attractive inherent snare. Dry intellectualism or formalism and the knowledge of God without knowing God is fulfilling and ever present in some form in EVERY setting from the meekness prayer closet to the most prestigious seminary lecture hall with steps leading to the most popular pulpit in the land. None are exempt. All stations in life are called to answer the alarm to “watch and pray lest you enter into temptation.”
Faith only works through love. “But the greatest of these is love.”
“You will not come to Me that you may have life.”
(Jesus to the Religious elite of his time. Notice it’s not to the common man but to the religious hypocrite to whom He brings condemnation.)
“Take heed to your self and your doctrine… to ensure salvation…”
For me I think a regular reading of Bunyan and Ryle give help in preventing and treating this blindness. Lewis is always helpful for whatever ails me too. To say it isn’t happening to you without evaluating the fruit in your life and ministry is disingenuous and indicative of a potential problem. Coupled with a steady diet of Bunyan, Ryle, Lewis and the like, is the regular practice of acknowledging and confessing our sin of self-righteousness hypocrisy which we so easily fall prey to because of the absolute wealth of information we have literally at our fingertips at any time. This can subtly produce a calloused indifference to the plight of our fellow man as it breeds a smug satisfaction that they get what they deserve as we bask in the warmth of love and grace. We can become tunnel-visioned in our pursuit of the next spiritual nugget of wisdom which we hope to uncover by intellectual pursuits apart from heart surgery upon the idol of Self which becomes puffed up as we engorge him with more information yet devoid of required love.
Spiritual Life however is never by orthodoxy in vitro alone, but can live only in orthopraxy, which always must involve the death of Self in vivo, and that by the Spirit of God who both kills and brings life to light by the Word implanted.