Romans 10:1-4 (ESV) Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
College football season began this weekend with all the rivalries heating up. Social media feeds heavy laden with the usual banter back and forth. Team colors flying and crowds cheering for the first look at the home team. Our favorite team has experienced some changes this year – new coach and strategy mixed with a whole lot of hype. The excitement has been building to an explosive point. Super exciting, right? Well…our team didn’t do so well. Defense good but offense terrible resulting in a humiliating and unexpected loss. Suddenly like a giant balloon so bright and colorful begins to slowly deflate. The dream evaporates and stunning reality emerges that there is still a lot of work to do to become victorious.
The hype surrounding the new coach and revamped team sent a shockwave of hope to the followers of the football team. The media created a climatic mix of desertion by the old coach and the arrival of the team “savior” in the new one. Everyone jumped on board quickly and thousands of dollars in advertising made it easy and appealing but when the cleats hit the turf – the truth emerged. What is hype? Is it bad? Hype stimulates excitement and creates interest. It is promotes and publicizes to create intensity. However, if hype is not backed by truth it only produces disappointment. It has not validity. If hype stirs up our emotions, but cannot continue to support such feelings – it results in huge letdowns with anger mixed in. Such an experience compromises trust and only further confirms that there is no point in trust or confidence anymore.
For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
Any great leader can promote, publicize and create intensity and interest. Many are gifted with talents allowing them to convince others of the validity of something and get them wrapped up in emotions. The enemy can tempt us to jump on hype and forget seeking out the Truth. Truth is the place where freedom begins. Hype without truth is a lie. Hype preys on human emotions to gain support to no end. It generally leads to dead ends and disappointments. However, zeal is not an empty threat of success. It is only a lie when not backed by the Truth. We are encouraged to be zealous for the Lord and the ministry. However, it all becomes hype if there is no Truth to back our words.
There is no place for hype in the church. Zeal, of course! Excitement, yes. Anticipation, absolutely. Interest and intensity, if not – why go? God doesn’t desire dead churches but He will always look for the Truth. In our gatherings, it is crucial to the modern church that there is Truth in our words and ways. I know it is messy to speak of the Blood. It is not fashionable to point to the Cross. But without Jesus there is no Truth to our claims and commitment. Our relationship is not righteousness and therefore, only religious overtures that lead nowhere no matter how many excited and amped up followers we have.
John 8:32 (TPT) For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.
The Passion Translation surmises:
The truth Jesus gives us releases us from the bondage of our past, the bondage of our sins, and the bondage of religion. Jesus is speaking these words to those who were not fully free from man’s traditions. Truth must be embraced and worked out through the divine process of spiritual maturity. The Greek word for “truth” is reality. To embrace the reality of Christ brings more freedom into your life. See the book of Galatians for a clear explanation of the freedom Jesus refers to here.
Our zeal must be knowledge based and truth driven. The reality of our relationship with God is through Jesus Christ, His Son. There is no other way. We can try to love and express generosity and even attempt to imitate all the Fruit of God’s Spirit, but if the foundation of truth in our life is not Jesus and falling completely head-over-heels in love with Him first – it’s all just hype that leads us dangerously to eternity void of salvation.
The Truth is that we all must work out salvation through a divine process of spiritual maturity. No one just arrives but fights to expose new truth from God’s Word (Jesus) so the Holy Spirit can use it to change us from the inside out. It is our soul that must prosper first before the rest of our life will experience it. The Grace of God is received through Christ. Our commitment must be to our covenant with Jesus and primary interest in making Him our life partner to have zeal that is productive. Our zeal must be knowledge based and never emotionally driven. It must be founded on real love and true commitment which is not always easy and requires endurance.
Romans 10:9-13 (ESV) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Saul served God with zeal. As he massacred Christians, he fully believed that his actions were in direct obedience to the Lord. Saul was a devout and committed Jew. He believed that God chose him to overcome the new church. However, when Saul became Paul – the Truth (Jesus) redirected his zeal to truly glorify God. He couldn’t take back his actions, but he could now press to the mark of the high calling of God through Jesus Christ. We must evaluation our motives and emotions. Allowing God’s Word to be a two-edged sword and cut through our heart to find faith with validity. It would be a tragedy for true, pure and faithful zeal for the Lord to be no more than hidden hype. Hype leads to disappointment where hope never will! Be encouraged today! Get excited about Jesus! Always compare every word received from teachers, preachers, or speakers to the Truth. Continue to do the same with every sermon and profound lesson. The foundation of faith in our life has a name – His Name is Jesus! It is through Christ that we have overwhelming victory! Amen and amen!
I Corinthians 15:57 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.