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Spirit-filled Christianity far surpasses bland religious rituals

iStock/1408224238
iStock/1408224238

My wife, Tammy, and I are sure enjoying our first grandchild, with our second grandchild's birth just days away. Evelyn is 6 months old, and it is wonderful to watch her facial expressions as she experiences the various tastes and flavors of baby food.

I can almost hear her telling her parents, “You guys have really been holding out on me! I had no idea that there are other flavors besides that bland formula you have been giving me for months. This is incredible! I love the variety! Keep it coming!”

If only babies could talk. Oh well, Evelyn’s facial expressions alone speak volumes!

And it got me thinking about what some people experience with their religion. Lots of repetition, but little joy. Plenty of religious rituals, but very little desire for prayer and God’s Word. And no spiritual fire to reach others with the Gospel. 

Now don’t get me wrong. I realize that infants need milk and baby formula and that Scripture instructs believers to crave the pure spiritual milk of the Word of God (see 1 Peter 2:2-3). I am simply pointing out that some people seem extremely committed to their religious rituals, yet almost robotic in their religious approach.

Religion seems to be simply one component among 6 or 7 significant aspects of their life on Earth. This compartmentalization within their heart suggests that they have likely never experienced Spirit-filled Christianity.

The Day of Pentecost took Christ’s disciples to a new level of spiritual power. Sadly, some Christians rarely if ever experience this Pentecost power. They have no hunger and thirst to press on and receive more of what the Lord wants to do in their life. 

You know, more power, more peace of mind, more obedience, more souls being won for Christ, more service to others, more Bible study, more prayer, more people assisted, etc. The Holy Spirit produces this desire for “more,” while also providing believers in Jesus with the assurance of their salvation.

Bland religious rituals tend to leave man’s soul dry and empty, without a longing for God’s glory, a fervor for holy living, and the power from on high to pray with persistence and bold faith. Such godly desires and spiritual power come from the Holy Spirit, who works in each heart that clings to the cross for salvation.

There are plenty of New Testament examples of religious leaders who were terribly proud of their religious rituals, and yet completely unacquainted with Christ. They had no compassion for the needy among them, and their hearts were cold toward the Messiah. They viewed themselves as superior to others, even though their names were not written in the Book of Life. (Think of it as “Heaven’s Reservation Book.”) 

Revelation 20:15 informs us: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Bland religious rituals don't cut it, whereas Spirit-filled Christianity places a fire in your soul, and a growing confidence in your heart from knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior. 

If you ever get bored in your walk with Christ, get alone with God and pour out your heart to him. Ask for fresh fire and a renewed anointing of the Holy Spirit's power in your life. Ask God to empty you of anything that is preventing you from being filled with the Holy Spirit. As D.L. Moody wisely stated, “We have to be emptied before we can be filled.”

Are you hindering God’s work in your life by a secret sin you are committing? Do you hunger and thirst for more power for prayer, and for more family members and friends to be saved and walk closely with Christ? Don’t hold back. Get real with God. Confess your sins to him, and trust Jesus to forgive you. And continue asking God every day to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

In addition, saturate your mind constantly with Scripture. After all, the Holy Spirit inspired the Word for our edification, encouragement, and empowerment. And pray continually, even when you don’t feel like it. Immerse yourself into serving others with the gifts and abilities God has given you.

And seek to obey the Lord in everything you think, say, and do. Jesus told his disciples: “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Followers of Christ are to “find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10), and we turn to God’s Word to discover how our Lord wants us to live. Scripture instructs us: “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

And consider these “10 Reasons to Go to Church (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It).” Avoiding and ignoring Christ’s bride, the Church, negatively impacts a believer in multiple ways. Weekly worship with other Christians is a crucial aspect of your spiritual health, unless, of course, you are bedridden.

Most of those who give up on Christ’s bride are people who are not flowing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And so, they find it relatively easy to stop attending worship services where they would not only be blessed but would also be a blessing to others. They seek to practice “lone ranger” spirituality, even though Jesus didn't design Christian discipleship to be a do-it-yourself project.

If you have never experienced a Spirit-filled life with Christ, today could mark the beginning of a glorious transition in your spiritual life.

Jesus said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).

Do you want God’s best in your life? Spirit-filled Christianity is available to any believer who will trust and obey the King of Kings and wait upon the Lord daily to be “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). 

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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