Have you ever stopped to think about the difference between true faith and religiosity? I watched a little video recently about it and I was very challenged by it. I praise God for the opportunities He gives me every day to learn more about what it means to truly follow Him.
What is the difference you might be asking? There are two important things we need to consider in order to understand it: teaching and learning. True faith is present in a person’s life when he/she hears the teaching and learns, ie, practices it in his/her life. Religiosity is when someone hears the teaching and learns nothing from it, ie. only goes through the motions and does not practice it. This is a matter of the heart. People can hear God’s word and give their hearts to Him, in obedience, and follow HIm, or people can hear God’s word and go to church all their lives, sing hymns to Him, pray to Him and not give their hearts to Him.
Lets see what an example of that in the Bible.
“7 And the Israelites served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him—those who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. 8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. 9 They buried him in the land he had been allocated, at Timnath-serah[b] in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:7-10 (NLT)
The Israelites, God’s people, served the Lord while Joshua and the leaders were alive. Joshua and the leaders were teaching them and encouraging them to live for God. This is why it is so important that Christian men, teach God’s word faithfully in our churches, so that the people of God is encouraged to live by their example.
Notice verse 10 says that after all the leaders, and Joshua, had died, the people didn’t know the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done. The people were not following God anymore. Their hearts were somewhere else.
Let me give you another example: we teach our children about God. We tell them to pray to Him. We take them to church every Sunday. We tell them to listen to the preacher and to their Sunday school teacher. We encourage them to sing and take part in things at church. All of these are wonderful things if we are helping them and encouraging them to learn about Jesus and apply what they learn in their lives. They are good if they are centred in God’s word, and if they are helping their hearts be transformed. As I said before, if there isn’t any learning, transforming of the heart, it is mere religiosity.
We must pray to God to help us have true faith, so that those people around us will not call us religious people, but will start seeing that we follow Christ.