Wherever we are in the world we almost always see people with the tendency to associate religiosity with true holiness. When we see a pious individual who regularly goes to church and is active in all highly visible ministry, our minds become enticed to believing that they are the "real deal." On the other hand, if we fail to witness the regular active involvement of a person in church and ministry we become so quick to conclude that such a person is not right (or was never right) with God.
It is truly disheartening that some of us only want to see the surface of the matter when it comes to being holy and right with God. We link up an individual's keeping of outward practices, ceremonies, and the strictness of following a religious order or ceremony as a genuine walk with our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our self-righteousness always get the better of us when we consider a markedly religious reverence as the gauge for one's relationship with the Lord.
We easily jump in to join what I want to call "The Holiness Game". This is what a lot of christians play within the church. We tend to point fingers at each other, much like what the Pharisees did in Jesus' time, and condemning one another for not outwardly observing this and that. Oh, that our hearts be rebuked by the Lord for it!
How can we become so heartless as to delve into only seeing the frivolous details of our walk with God and yet not consider other people's inward spirit? We have been so consumed with our own pride that we allow ourselves to regard religion above the true and genuine calling of God.
Jesus speaks of the Pharisees' devout acts only to condemn it and expose it as blind, empty and useless! Our Redeemer came not to abolish the commandments of God but to raise the bar higher by teaching us about the more important and weightier matter of having the INWARD spirit's genuine substance.
Holiness isn't solely found in our tithing; how regularly we attend church; how many times we fast; how many ministries we serve or handle; or how well we follow our nitpicking of the law. Jesus made it very clear for all to understand that holiness is more than being religious like the Pharisees.
Our walk with God isn't gauged by how many times we go to church on Sundays; Wednesdays; or Special Holidays; nor is it disqualified by how many times we somehow miss church services. It is a matter of the heart. Getting right with God was never about following all the rules to a T, but about God's grace in relying on Jesus Christ alone for HIS work of Salvation in our lives and for everything that we face after that.
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—" (Philippians 3:8-9)
The "walk" with our Savior doesn't only happen when we are IN church. Now I am not implying that we disregard coming together as believers. What I am wanting to show here is that Hebrews 10 has oftentimes been abused by our self-righteousness despite a very clear message for what our WALK with the Savior is all about...
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10: 19-25)
Did you see that? It is with a true heart... we are able to approach the holiest in full assurance of faith... we hold fast to our profession of faith in what JESUS CHRIST has done... without wavering... we consider (or think about carefully)... to provoke one another (or stir to action)... unto love and to good works... not forsaking (or abandoning; withdrawing allegiance; ceasing to continue) coming together with other believers (doesn't necessarily mean just the church that you are a member of)... so we may be exhorting (admonishing but also comforting) one another.
It's dispiriting to encounter so-called believers who are consumed with the idea that what they do in church is the only way to be right with God. It's a discouragement for the lost to see so-called believers rub in their own righteousness rather than the glory and the perfect righteousness of Christ alone. God forbid that we allow ourselves to be pretentious followers of Christ! It's a shame that we find these kinds of spirits in our churches today bringing up issues that are too frivolous.
Aren't we supposed to have nothing to do with foolish and ignorant controversies? Aren't we called to stay away from irreverent babble because they only lead us to more ungodliness? Aren't we supposed to build each other up, bear one another's burdens and be patient on those we consider weak? It's truly a shame how we see some believers become blind by the luster of self-righteousness.
We focus so much on the minors and we don't realize that our ramblings only become stumbling blocks to others. May we be reminded over and over that we are not to judge one another, for we honestly don't have the slightest clue of what's going on in the heart of a person. May we never allow ourselves to be a stumbling block to others.
Now, when we became followers of Christ, we were called to contend for the faith! We were to focus on JESUS CHRIST alone! We were called to focus on the work of spreading this good news of HIS work on Salvation. It was not for the law that we must find ourselves contending for, but for the faith on which the work of our Savior is made evident. Only in this faith in HIM do we stand and get right with God!
May we stop playing the Holiness game and remind ourselves of this...
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2, emphasis added)