Monday, 21 September 2015

Religious sinners


The title above is quite a contradiction; religious and sinners but it does  point to a paramount area of the Christian life in which almost everyone is a victim. Its implication, as it applies to various individuals will be discussed in progression. The term ‘Religious sinners’ is used to describe people who are zealously religious but without God; people who are consumed in their desire to serve and please God but using the wrong means and techniques. It also describes those totally committed to the service of an ‘Unknown god’ as Paul the Apostle puts it. These categories of people can be classified as religious sinners- having the zeal but lacking proper knowledge on how and who to channel it to. Though strange, religious sinners exist in every denomination today. In fact, an alarming percentage of those we commune with during service are religious sinners. This is how they are classified:
1. By worshipping the wrong god
Many times, people worship god instead of God the almighty. In the Bible, many (including the Israelites) worshipped the wrong god in the name of religion. They bowed to images, carvings, all sorts of idols (I Kings 18:1; Samuel 5; Acts 17) and even their fellow men (Acts 14: 11-15, 10: 25, 26). These were honest, religious people but they wasted their time, energy and resources worshipping wrong objects. This has continued till today as we still see people giving glory, respect and honour to objects, church founders, Bishops and other highly-placed members of the church.  They take bows, standing ovations and resort to sacred name-calling like “Your Lordship”, “His Eminence”, “His Holiness” “His Grace”, “General Overseer” and other very exalted names that should only go to God Almighty. By so doing, they set themselves as subjects before these people thinking they are indirectly worshipping God. They are quite religious but sinners. Notably, only God can, should and must be worshipped (John 4:24).

2. By worshipping the right God in the wrong way
Today many people are worshipping God the wrong way. Everybody wants to please God in his/her best way without considering what God really wants. A scholar once said after carrying out a research on worship pattern of idols that if these gods have their traditional and clearly spelt out pattern for worship, how much more God the creator of all things. Jesus affirmed that men worship Him in vain “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9, Mark 7: 6-7). Whenever we introduce our wisdom into the worship of God, we end up worshipping Him in vain. This, we must avoid at all cost.

3.  By worshipping the right God in aberration from the gospel
It is almost impossible to rightly worship God without sound knowledge of the gospel and obedience to it. “Anyone who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the father and the son” (II John 9). As cited earlier, idols have their specific ways of being worshipped and their worshippers do not derail one bit from the norm to ways that will please or suit them, likewise, Christians are not to add to the worship of God things that God does not require or want. The gospel is to be preached and obeyed in its entirety, not halfly. (Mark 16:15, Romans 10:15). Claiming to be right in religious matters without the gospel as a back-up is fallacious.

4. By worshipping the right God, obeying the gospel, but not living up to Christian standards.
“Faith without works is dead” says the Bible. Claiming to know the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is not a guarantee that one will make heaven. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1: 22-24). The Disciples of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch because of how ‘Christlikely’ they behaved. This tells us that even after worshipping the right God in consonant with the gospel, we must as well be like him everyday of our lives. 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). If we must make heaven, we must ensure that we worship the right God, in the right way, obey the gospel, and live right before God. This is the only sure way to eternal salvation.

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