The tendency of the popular religious teaching of the day is to make the Christian’s pathway as easy and attractive as possible. There is a great deal said concerning faith, but the necessity of performing the sacred obligations set forth in the word of God, the necessity of living consistent, godly lives, of being workers together with God, of denying self, of coming out from the world and separating from its fashions and follies, is not presented as it should be presented, from the pulpits of the land. “Believe, only believe,” is the burden of the instruction from the sacred desk. Repentance, confession, and thorough reformation in life and character are not dwelt on, or required from those who would take part in the privileges of church-fellowship. The line of distinction between the church and the world has become less positive, because the great standard of righteousness has not been the standard by which the faith of men and women was tested and proven. “Only believe” is echoed by thousands who catch up the words parrot-fashion, and repeat them with no sense of their importance or significance. Says the prophet, “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”
Many of these religious teachers have developed characters in harmony with their shallow appreciation of divine truth. It has been agreeable to their carnal hearts to be released from all responsibility and obligation. They did not desire the inconvenience of denying self, of taking up the warfare against besetting sins, and of correcting the defects that marred their characters. They have persuaded themselves that Christ has relieved them from the duty of purifying themselves even as he is pure. They declare that Christ has done all, that men have nothing to do but to believe, that good works are impossible and unnecessary. Such souls are deceived themselves and are agents used of Satan to deceive others. They do not believe in Jesus. If they had a connection with him, they would know that he is not the minister of sin. Those who have faith in the Son of God make manifest what is the character of his mission, by lives of devotion, integrity, and self-sacrifice, and prove to the world that he came, not to save men in their sins, but from their sins. He “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
The apostle Paul realized what his words meant when he said, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” He knew it meant the surrender of every power of his being to the service of God. It meant an entire renouncing of the world, the flesh, and the devil. It meant that he must follow in the blood-stained path of the Man of Calvary, and walk even as he walked.
How different is the faith that is presented to the world today as essential to salvation. It has no vitality, no reality. It does not unite the believers as branches to the living Vine. It is not the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. It is a formal, nominal acceptance of a popular story, and has about as much efficacy as the faith that accepted Abraham Lincoln as a good administrator of governmental affairs. Genuine faith will show definite results in the character, and will exert a controlling influence over the thoughts of the heart, and the affairs of the life. It will lead its possessor to practice the principles of his belief. Says Jesus, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven.” “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” Says the apostle, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” It is the doing of the words and works of Christ that testifies to the saving qualities of your faith.