The Test of Actions – Connecting Actions and Beliefs
“1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : 2 “Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message:
” ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. 3 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
9 ” ‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, [
a] burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”-safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 7:1-11 NIV (emphasis mine)
Someone once said, “Being in church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than being in McDonalds makes you a hamburger!” Attending church doesn’t make me a believer nor does it make me a disciple of Christ.
A person who is genuinely born again will have a heart attitude that desires to carefully guard and keep the commandments of God. It is not enough for a person to just say he is saved, but there must be the attitude of obedience in his heart.
In 2 Kings 23, King Josiah launches a reform and orders that the temple of God be restored. In his zeal to see God glorified, King Josiah uses all of his authority to make everyone go to church and worship God.
As with any situation where people are forced to go to church or attend simply because it is what everyone else is doing (as opposed to coming to the temple of God in order to worship), there were many who went to church, but never allowed the message of God sink into their hearts and change their lifestyles. These are the people to whom Jeremiah cries out to in chapter 5 of his book.
Jeremiah is speaking to the people who went to church to worship God, but as soon as they left, would still do all of the same wicked things as before. After church they would burn their incense to Baal and sacrifice their children to Molech. They decided to use church as a “magic charm” and decided that if they went to the temple to worship, God would be obligated to save them. When these people came to church to worship however, they found Jeremiah standing at the gate of the Lord’s house proclaiming a challenging message to them before they even entered in.
As he stood at the gate, Jeremiah proclaimed to those who were coming to church that just because they were there, did not mean that they were in a right standing with God. Just because they walked through the doors of the temple and said, “praise God”, did not mean that they had been transformed by the Lord. Just because they believed in God, did not mean that they were made right by Him. Just because they were believers, did not mean they were disciples. Just because they came, did not mean they had been changed.
Jeremiah spoke out to tell God’s people that God was not looking for “deceptive words” from them that sounded good, but rather He was looking for them to turn their hearts, to repent, to reform their lives, and to change their ways rather than simply being “Sunday Christians” who put on their best clothes to go to the temple and then continue in their sin as soon as they left the temple.
Jeremiah was in essence crying out to people who came to church and were not changed, “Don’t come to church just to make your conscience feel better. Don’t come to church to try and get God to condone the sin in your life. Don’t base your salvation on church membership. Don’t base your relationship with God on past experiences and past testimonies. Don’t base your journey with Jesus on religious traditions and rituals. God is interested in a relationship with you that will change your life! Not only does God want to forgive your sin, He also wants to set you free from it! Not only does God want you to come to Him, He wants to come into you! He doesn’t want you to just come to church. He wants you to be the church! Coming to church doesn’t change your life, dedicating your heart and life to God does! The temple or the church doesn’t save you. Living with a life-changing faith in Jesus Christ does! Don’t use “deceptive words” and just talk like you are a believer and disciple, BE ONE!”
If I came running to your house, pounded on your door and told you that I believe there is a bomb in your house and it is set to go off in any minute, there would be a sense of immediate urgency to the situation. What if after I said that, I asked you for a drink, I sat down on your couch and started to talk to you about the weather, the economy, and the kids? Do you think I really believe that there is a bomb in your house? Of course not! Why? Because my actions are not in agreement with what I say I believe. If I really believe something, there will be a connection and a consistency between what I believe and what I do. My actions would declare what I believe. If I really believed there was a bomb in your house I would be doing whatever I could to get you and your family out of the house as quickly as possible!
Jeremiah challenges churchgoers of his day and of today. “If you really believe that God is our deliverer and our provider, live like it. If you really believe that God is your healer and Savior, like it. If you really believe that Jesus died to save you from your sin, live like it! The church will not save you. The building will not save you. The economy and the government will surely not save you. God can and wants to save you, but you need to believe it and live like you believe it! God is not impressed by empty words. He wants a genuine, life-changing faith.”
Lord forgive the many times that I have been too cliché in my faith and depended more on what I learned from my church experiences than from Your word. I don’t want a faith filled with cliché or “deceptive words”. I want to live out a life-changing faith that transforms my actions, the way I think, and the way I relate to others. Lord make me more like You. Amen.