Take it to Heart
I implore you, when you hear sound Biblical teaching – don’t just say ‘amen’ or clap your hands to it, or say, ‘Brother, preach it’. Examine your heart and life against the preaching you are hearing, and if you find yourself lacking in one or more things – repent and take care to fix those things with God’s help. Your heart’s goal should be to please the Lord in every area of your life. Not to simply pay lip service to Him on Sunday and act as a Christian during the service to make your peers think you a Christian. No, not at all – I feel that’s an insult to God, actually.
Going to church is good, and I support it, but I think it’s more important that you go with the right heart, then the simple act of going. I would also say that not attending church does not mean a person is backslidden, or some kind of heathen. To judge your brother who doesn’t attend church in these kinds of lights without knowing their heart, isn’t right. Only God can make that judgement with complete accuracy.
Likewise, attending church does not make you a Christian, nor does it save you. It’s completely foolish to think that by simply attending church you’re somehow earning your way to Heaven. Repenting of sin with a genuine heart and asking Jesus to save you, to wash you of your sin, and to lead your life saves you. Loving Christ as your Lord, and trying your best to live like Him, makes you more a Christian than walking into a Church on Sundays. There are people who attend church regularly for years, that never fully surrender to God, that never accept Jesus into their hearts, regardless of how many invitations are given, no matter how many times a loving minister pleads for their soul. And there are people who do not attend church for any of a plethora of reasons, yet they seek the face of God earnestly. They feed their souls through scripture, and worship the Lord their God with authentic adoration.
There has to come a point when you accept that doctrine applies to you as much as anyone else. Yes, it’s easier to spot someone else’s flaws than your own on times, but when those flaws are pointed out to you, your responsibility is not to scoff but to seriously consider what’s been addressed. Seriously think about your ways and actions and prayerfully ask God to not only search your heart but reveal to you what things you need to change. Then further, your responsibility is to work on those things and strive to change for the better.
It would be even better to examine yourself this way without the prompting of another brother or sister. It would be better if your heart were so set upon the things of God, that your desire to please Him is so strong, that you vigilantly guard your heart against ungodly things.
The attitude that says ‘this message is meant for someone else’ whenever sin is being rebuked is dangerous. Let us look internally and search ourselves. There needs to be an attitude in us that takes sound doctrine to heart. There needs to be an effort from us to put sound teachings into practice on a day to day basis, that decides to live for Christ and not for the fleeting pleasures of this filthy world.
Christ’s death on the cross was not so that we could continue to live as the world. It was so that you could be free from the absolute bondage of this world. And if you think you were never in bondage to this world – well – there’s a term for that, it’s called Stockholm Syndrome. You’ve been captive to Satan for so long that you’ve come to relate to him and no longer see him as any threat to you.
If you’ve come to Jesus and have grown in Christ even a little, you will have come to realize, at least partly, what the bondage really is. A mental and spiritual slavery in which you once searched for anything and everything to fill the hole in your soul that only Jesus Christ Himself can fill. Music, movies, sports, drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality – Satan uses these temptations and more to distract people into a self-indulgent, godless life.
Jesus can free you from this bondage if you ask him to. Does it mean one prayer will end all the temptations? No, not in the least. Satan will still try to tempt you in an effort to separate you from Christ. However, as you grow in Christ, you should fall into these traps less and less. When temptations arise, you can choose to call on Jesus for strength to deny the temptation, should it feel to difficult to overcome on human strength.
To get back to the point – if you’ve been calling yourself a Christian but haven’t recognized the things of the world as bondage, I urge you to prayerfully re-examine that opinion. Search scriptures instead of simply listening to the words of men, which are so easily corrupted by opinion.
Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.
2 Corinthians 6:17 (NLT)
This scripture succinctly encapsulates the main point of what’s on my heart. It says it with clarity. If you truly love God, don’t be playing around with the filthy things of this world. Don’t be dabbling in fortune telling and horoscopes. Don’t be idolizing celebrities and sports stars. Don’t live in such a way that the only ‘Christian’ activity you do is to go to church. We are supposed to be lights unto the world – how can we ever do that if we live in the same darkness that the world does?
Listening to correct teaching is well and good…but so much better to take it to heart, and put it into practice, too.