“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of he world, why as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which are all to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:16-23)
While discussing the practice of Lent, along with other traditions of Catholicism, it is alarming to see how these traditions have affected the Evangelical church.
It is sobering how susceptible we are to traditions, regardless of their origin, which encourage us to apply a form of self discipline to our lives. Or that encourage us to deny ourselves something in order to gain a spiritual benefit.
Yes. I am actually questioning the validity of self discipline and self denial.
Christians are very easily drawn into ways of thinking that are not scriptural.
To be more specific, we are easily seduced into using carnal techniques in order to produce spiritual results in our lives. Which is evident in the addiction our culture has for self-help solutions.
The hard reality is that religious traditions are often not as good, warm, and fuzzy as they seem on the surface.
In fact, many of these traditions will subtly change our faith in Christ to something else.
And sometimes those changes may not manifest themselves right away. Like a disease that works for years within our system; where the changes are not discovered until it is too late to recover from the damage that’s been done.
Therefore, we must be very vigilant against anything that would change our focus from Christ and His word toward something else — even toward another spirit.
A Dangerous Movement
There is a popular movement within Evangelicalism that promotes the Spiritual Disciplines; which is also called, the Contemplative movement.
While there are many voices that are working to promote this philosophy, Richard J. Foster’s work has become a kind of foundation for this movement. Through his book, Celebration of Discipline, and his organization, Renovare, he has promoted an ecumenical mixture of Evangelical and Catholic theology.
This group stands out from others due to its unapologetic presentation of Catholic theology and tradition side by side with Evangelical spiritual devotion. On the surface, it promotes a deeper relationship to Jesus Christ and seeks to bring people into a deeper spiritual life.
But there are very serious dangers here.
These disciplines are presented in a kind of neutral fashion. As if, anyone who desires to know the Lord, may make direct contact with Him — regardless of their belief in biblical truth — regardless of their understanding of salvation — regardless of the deity or saint or Co-Redeemer being contacted.
Which is to elevate a technique or traditional practice above faith in God’s word.
Which is a pathway to God that the scriptures do not teach.
The False Value of Good Intentions
Within the groups that promote the Spiritual Disciplines, there is a great deal of spiritual compromise. This is caused by spiritual seduction. By an infatuation with the belief in self-administered discipline as a way to improve ones spiritual state.
This belief is an error that lies at the heart of all false religious systems. It is based on the idea that a man may achieve a higher spiritual state by following a religious ritual or tradition.
Unfortunately, we have bought into this idea because of our belief in the value of good intentions.
We have accepted that our intentions or sincerity can legitimize the use of a spiritual technique. And that God will use whatever method we choose as long as our goal is to know, please, or commune with Him.
Mix and Match Your “God”
The world’s religions teach that a man can bring himself into a pure or more elevated state by virtue of his own dedication and zeal. If only he could find the right technique or the correct method to apply.
This is at the core of the works-salvation mentality. That man, by his will, can bring about spiritual change within himself.
“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Romans 9:16)
Again, this movement is all about the intentions and sincerity of a devoted man. It is not about what the word of God has specifically said or prescribed.
This process has nothing to do with faith. It is based on popular teaching about the management of the flesh through applying a religious technique. From wherever that technique may have originated.
We could just as easily be discussing Eastern meditation or the Muslim traditions, or Judaism, or Mormonism. In fact, we could be talking about any religious belief that teaches that a man can overcome sin by virtue of focusing his will toward God.
Focusing his will toward whichever “God” he chooses.
To Be Concluded . . .