What Do We Practice?
by Zach Birkner
Often as I enter into a spiritual discussion with someone, I ask them if they are a religious person. What I mean when I say that is: do you have a belief system that you practice? Have you ever heard someone use that term outside of a spiritual context? Sometimes people will say I watch my favorite football team “religiously.” That doesn’t mean that it has anything to do with God, but that it is their normal ritual or practice. When I ask someone if they are religious, what I want to know is: do you practice your faith in God?
If you have strongly held beliefs and convictions, then you will follow through with them. Otherwise they are not truly convictions. The scripture clearly states that “6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil… 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God”. (1 John 3:4–10) In other words, if you are a child of God you can no longer continue to practice a sinful lifestyle. In fact, if you have been born of God, if His seed abides in you, and you are a Christian, you cannot keep on doing things that are contrary to what God says. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever slip up, but it is about what you continually practice.
This also doesn’t mean that you are somehow earning your salvation because you actually do what you say that you believe in. The idea that work and a saving faith can be separated is just simply not true. You can believe in something and foolishly choose not to practice it, but that faith is a useless dead faith. As it says in James, “17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:17–18)
We cannot be like a man who has belief but does not act based on his convictions. That is hypocritical and specifically condemned by Jesus. He once told a parable of a man who acted in this way. The man knew the master was delaying, and chose not to do what he knew was right. Jesus’ response to this man was to “cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:51)
So my challenge for all believers in Christ is to examine yourself to see if you are actually putting into practice the things that you believe. There is nothing quite as painful as self-examination, but part of Christianity is practicing what you preach. Organized religion gets a bad rap in society today, but the fact remains that we ought to religiously practice our faith. If you believe what Jesus taught is truly what is best for you, then do what he said!