Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away(2 Timothy 3:5 KJV)
I use the phrase Christian religion to refer to an abnormal state in which true Christians engage in the outward form of Christian activities but never experience the essence or intended effects of those activities. Christian religion is one subtle manifestation of the religious spirit that is pervasive amongst us, God’s children.
Paul lays out the two components of the idea of the Christian religion in 2 Tim. 3:5 above while discussing the subject of false teachers. These false teachers were not true Christians; however, their activities exemplify the nature of Christian religion. Paul says they had a form of godliness but denied the power or essence. In other words, they had the outward form of people who have a relationship with God, but in essence, they were not God’s children.
As true Christians, we are also vulnerable to the manifestations of Christian religion, as I use it here. We are caught in this religious spirit when we engage in outward Christian activities but never experience the purpose or intended effects of those activities. For instance, the purpose of the Bible is to enrich our relationship and intimacy with the Lord. When we study and read the Bible( the form), without any changes to our relationship with the Lord( essence), we are caught in this vicious cycle of Christian religion. The same is true about prayer, church attendance, etc.
The saddest example of a case of Christian religion I can remember is a story of a beloved brother who loves the Lord but struggles with drug addiction. As he described his struggles, he mentioned that his pastor told him to read the Bible, and he read it from cover to cover, and “nothing happened to me.” His point was that reading or studying the Bible could not help in his struggle with addiction. As I listened to him, I said to myself, “if what this brother is saying is true,” then we are doomed as Christians. The Bible he heard as an unbeliever changed his heart from a dead sinner to a child of God, and that same word is now unable to help him overcome addiction. And yes, scripture tells us God’s word can be useless to us under certain circumstances (Hebrews 4:2). So we can read the Bible from cover to cover, and even be a professor of Theology( the form) and never encounter the God of the Bible is a living and powerful way (essence).
Beware of the Christian religion.
Read more: Are You also Tired of Christian Religion?
How would you define Christian religion as described above?
Apply the Word
The state of a person’s heart is the crucial factor that determines the essence of every spiritual activity they are engaged in. For example, we can fast for 100 days(form), but the state of our hearts will determine the effects of that fasting. Watch your heart with all diligence because it will determine whether or not you are in the Christian religion or a living relationship with the Lord.
Ask the Lord to reveal all manifestations of the Christian religion in your life and help you overcome all of them.