For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. (Ezra 7:10 ESV)
Jesus, in Matthew 15:8, quoted Isaiah saying, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”. The scribes and Pharisees He was speaking of had substituted their own laws for those of God’s, simply giving lip-service to the Lord. We are guilty of the same when our actions do not follow the truth, but our lips declare we believe. When the way in which we live does not reflect our professed beliefs, I have news for you; we don’t really believe them! It’s like a man talking about the power of gravity, but then walking off of a cliff because he didn’t really think he would fall.
When we don’t live out the truth we say we believe in, our faith is dead. For “as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26). The life, the essence, is gone from our faith when we don’t live according to it. All our Christianity is in this condition is an empty husk, a mausoleum for our decaying words. If we are genuinely following Christ, we “ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6). It is the Spirit led flow of a believer’s life to “do”, or put into practice, what we learn from Scripture.
Ask yourself these questions today and answer honestly both to yourself and the Lord:
- Is there a lack of joy in my Christian walk?
- Do I neglect prayer because I don’t actually believe it does anything?
- Do I neglect the Bible and simply listen to what others have to say about it?
- Do I, like the Pharisees, honor God with my lips but not with my heart or actions?
Be encouraged to live out the truth that we profess: abiding joy is possible and it grows from living faith, prayer is both heard by God and powerful (James 5:16), and it is our glory to search Scripture for its deep wisdom (Proverbs 25:2).