No, the title is not meant to say “pity.” The title is Piety. Piety is a sin and please do not fail to remember that. While a real definition is difficult to verbalize, it is something that we need to be on guard for. The best way I can define it is that it is a practice found in a theology that the believer in that practice feels gives them an advantage or more elite status than that of ordinary Christians. Look at what happened to the church at Colossians for an example. These Christians, who even then had allowed false teaching and belief to corrupt them, had come to believe that they held the Christian secret to live a more superior Christian life than that which Paul had left them with. Think, “live your best life now” (sorry Joel Osteen).
The problem with this was, as Paul so elegantly pointed out in this epistle, was that they had come to forget that Jesus Christ had already done all the work for them to receive salvation. Verse 14 states that Christ took away our need to be legalistic about sin when he “nailed it to the cross.” How beautiful, how wonderful.
These Christians had become pious and Paul was not afraid to call them out on it. They had come to forget that they (we) were saved by grace and that no work we do on this Earth will change that fact. Notice in verse 18 where Paul discusses the churches asceticism. Webster’s defines asceticism as “practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline.” The Greek translation of this word literally means “laborious.” When I hear labor one word comes to mind: work. So Paul is telling me that I can’t work my way to heaven. What if I quit my job, home school my children, pray four hours a day, and give all my money to the church. Surely that will make me more special in God’s eyes than that other guy down the road who just comes to church and never participates in any of our “purpose driven” or “relevant” activities. No, Paul reminds us that no act we do will make us any less of a sinner in need of God’s grace. Even more importantly, no act we as parents do will make our children less of sinners in need of God’s grace. Should we attempt and shelter and protect our children from harm? Of course we should. Can we save them? Of course not!!
Gospel. Gospel is the answer. We must stop teaching works or as Paul would have to consistently remind the first century converts we must must stop teaching law. At home, school, church, small groups, wherever it is it must stop and we must be the voice to stop it. Law is not the answer and it leads to piety and unfulfilled, unrepentant, and unwilling Christians. If you preach, great, preach the gospel. If you teach, great, teach the gospel. If you work, great, work through the gospel. If you study, great, study through the gospel. If you parent, great, parent through the gospel. Teach Christ and examine what you and your children are being told at church. If you hear something other than the gospel, find a new church. It is when we step outside of the gospel and the call to discipleship that we become pious Christians who stop acting through faith but rather through law. Being pious does nothing more than to take your mind off the gospel. The more you work to become that perfect Christian with a perfect wife and perfect children who show no appearance of sin the further from the cross you get and the more reliant on the idol of self you become.
Whoever you are and wherever you read this I write this next sentence because I love you and I cringe at the thought of one soul perishing in Hell. You are a sinner and I know it. In the same breath I say that I am a sinner and you had better believe it. Should I ever become pious and believe that I can do enough to be able to consider my sins sanctified by my own action then I may as well put my New Testament away and dwell only in the Old. How do I know these things? Is it because I have done special acts or worked harder than anyone in my church and God has revealed a higher spiritual order to me? No. It is because through the gospel (which is in the Bible) I have come to learn that the most extraordinary thing I can ever ask to be is a Christian. No more, no less. Condemning no one and only focusing on my own sins and my belief that I am saved through Christ’s most selfless act is what gives me the assurance and my knowledge that if I trust God, He will bring me home by an act that has already taken place. Christ crucified.


~ by dvdbrumley on January 21, 2009.

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