March 9, 2014
Professed Beliefs vs. Practical Beliefs
They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him
What we really believe about God is often something other than what we profess to believe. We may say we believe God exists, for example, but if our actions are inconsistent with that belief, time after time, it would be fair to question whether we really believe what we say. Even in the affairs of this life, our real “master” is the one whom we actually “serve,” and when it comes to God, Paul asked the obvious question: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
But please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that we deliberately lie about our faith, claiming to believe one thing when we know that our real belief is something else. I’m simply suggesting that our words usually reflect what we know is right to believe, what we want to believe, and so forth, while our actions may indicate that – for all practical purposes – our real beliefs run in another direction. We don’t always have the thing Paul said we should be aiming for: a “faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5 KJV).
If there is a discrepancy between what we profess and what we practice, how should we go about removing it? We could, of course, get rid of the gap by lowering our profession to the level of our practice, but that would amount to giving up and selling out to the devil. But there are better things that we can do, surely.
First, we can be more honest about the gap between our profession and our practice. We can pray more frankly and openly to God about that. Second, we can elevate our practice to the level of our profession, always seeking God’s help in doing so. God wants us to obey what we say we believe, and God will help us to do so if we let God. But third, we can accept the fact that we are going to be judged on the basis of our practice, not our profession. In the end, it’s our deeds that God will judge (2 Corinthians 5:10) – not what we said we believed, not what we wanted to believe, and not what we were planning to believe someday. Whether we admit it or not, it’s a fact: what we actually do is what we really believe.
Can a faith that does nothing be called sincere?