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IN TOUCH WITH GOD    by Edward Heppenstall

 
Power From God APRIL 9

THE FORM AND THE POWERó1

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Tim. 3:5.

The Christian religion can be either a form or a power. The "form of godliness," of which Paul writes, refers to external appearance, the outward form of religion without the reality. The Pharisees had the outward form. They were very zealous for the traditional ritual, the established order and routine. That is what mattered to them. They had none of the power of their religion in character, conduct, and life.

One of the great defects in religious experience may be the lack of power to change and transform our lives. We may become satisfied with adhering to the letter of the law. Then our religious life is artificial. We can go through the form of baptism without the regenerating power of the Spirit to which it points. We can observe the form of the Sabbath without any vital energy from God. When this happens, the power of the Spirit-life is ignored. Outward conformity is stressed rather than the insistence upon a vital experience with Christ. This has often been the tendency among religionists. Then people get bored and weary with the form of religion. The form alone has nothing to offer. If that is all there is, religion becomes an empty thing.

The power of the Christian faith comes from the Holy Spirit. The essential thing is our surrender to, and possession by, the Holy Spirit. He alone makes a real Christian experience possible. Most of us are aware of spiritual inadequacies, of failures that never seem to be resolved. We must acknowledge before God that we are at the end of our resources. Living victoriously comes only through the power from God. This means death to human effort to bring our lives into line. We must forfeit all self-dependence.

"He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25). Christ here states a truth of momentous importance, fundamental for Christian living. It points to a life contrary to all self-culture, self-esteem, and self-exaltation. Christ asks us to reverse the whole bent of our thinking, to die to every expression of the self-life that prevents the control of the Holy Spirit.

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