Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Honoring God With Our Lips, But Not Our Hearts

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of accepting that an all-knowing God is in control of the universe even when His activities make no sense to our finite minds (YOU CAN READ THAT POST HERE). In that post, I distinguished between people of faith and those who do not have faith. Today I want to break that down a little more by talking about those who have a deep personal faith in God and those who only have an surface faith. 

In the region of the nation where I live, 74% of the population claims to be Christians. But the lifestyles of that mass of people do not back up the claim. For example, though 31% of the people in my state claim to attend church "regularly," when compared with actually church attendance, it is closer to 7-15%. Though the area in which I live is one of the most affluent in the nation, charitable giving ranks near the bottom on the national scale. Here is an interesting statistic, 54% of residents of my state claim to be "non-religious" even though 74% of them refer to themselves as Christians. By their own admission they are "non-religious Christians." Something is wrong with that descriptive phrase, especially when it is applied to over half of the population.

The prophet Isaiah talks about this kind of surface level faith: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden" (Isaiah 29: 13-14). God knows our hearts. He sees when our faith is genuine and sincere and when we are just going through the motions because we think it makes us look better in front of others. When people get to the point where their outward religious rituals no longer reflect their true belief systems, something is wrong. In this passage, God says that He would do something wonderful in their midst. While at first that may sound great, it actually is not. One might assume that if God does a big miracle then everyone would rediscover genuine faith. But God does miracles all the time and people just explain them away, deny they happened or simply ignore them. The context of this passage is that God was going to allow difficulties to come that would be so great that it would separate the true believers from those who only had a surface faith. The calamity would be so huge that all the "wisdom" of the world will fail. If one keeps reading in Isaiah, that happened to the Jewish people, and in a big way.

Just as the people in Isaiah's day had reached a tipping point and required a big intervention from a holy God, our own culture is reaching a similar tipping point. We have gone through the motions long enough, pretending to be a Christian nation, when in reality our hearts were far from God. It is time to get serious about our faith. If we claim to be Christians, we should live lives that reflect it. At the very least we should be treating our neighbors in ways that display Christian love and we should be showing up at church often enough to be considered "regular" attendees. But I think sincere believers will go much further than that in living out our faith. Our faith should permeate every area of our lives and be evident for all to see. That is the kind of faith that we need. That is the kind of faith our world needs. That is the kind of faith that pleases the Lord. Do we have that kind of faith?


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He is a happy husband, proud father, giggling grandfather, thankful cancer survivor, and the author of numerous books aimed at helping small churches become healthier and individual Christians grow in their faith. You can find his books at:


  1. We are witnessing the beginnings of the great falling away that is prophesied for the end days. The rapture could be any second now. Amen!