“The chief danger of the twentieth century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, heaven without hell.” William Booth. ( I would like to add, Preaching without the word.)
These words were uttered by Booth in the 1800s, and they would appear to be very prophetic as we scope the current climate of the church. I would like to break down each point as we consider how we can find a cure to our own spiritual condition.
- Religion without the Holy Ghost.
There is much religion today without the Holy Ghost. Ghost is an anglo- saxon term for Spirit, lest there be any confusion in the terminology. It is the same Greek word pneuma, so the newer translations are right to translate the word Spirit. I point this out because in some circles there is some unusual teachings that would suggest a difference between Ghost and Spirit. For example, these people would say when a person gets saved they would receive the Spirit, and then when they would get baptized in the Spirit they would receive the Holy Ghost. A very confused teaching that would almost invent a 4th member of the Godhead!
Yet despite much of the confusion and undue emphasis surrounding a lot of teaching on the Holy Spirit today, we can still say that without the Holy Spirit there can be no true religion. He is the life source and the power source of a true believers religion. Without Him and His quickening powers we only have an empty kernel and empty shell, our religion would only consist of outward forms and practices with no life. Our religion would be a heartless one, we would all be still dead in our trespasses and sins, cleaning the outside of the cup, while we are still secretly dirty and rotten within.
Paul warns in 2 Tim 3:5 that there would be people having a form of godliness but denying its power. He warns us to avoid people such as these, for their condition can be very catching. Religion without the Holy Ghost, looks great to us and often has the approval of man, but it is a cursed fig tree, all leaves and no fruit, and is under Gods condemnation!
Religion without the Holy Ghost is a deception of the worst kind! It is a denial of the cross, a denial of the Savior, it is a rejection of salvation by grace alone, as if we could gain this salvation in our own power and stand before God with His approval on our own goodness! May God deliver us from such a wicked deception!
I believe in our current times, there is no greater threat to the church of God than religion without the Holy Ghost! The reason being, it can look so right and authentic on the outside, it looks just like true religion, but God also looks at the nature of our works, the driving motivation behind them. The inner motives and reins of the heart. Without the Holy Ghost our fruit will be plastic and not real. It will look real to the eye, but when one bites into it, it is exposed for what it is.
We desperately need the Holy Ghost in our religion! Without Him we are only promoting ourselves and our own morality, a mere formalism. It is possible to feign being a Christian by right, learned outward conduct. Is our religion without the Holy Ghost? if the answer to this is yes, then it would show we have been deceived. But perhaps the acknowledgment will put us back on the road to recovery? May God grant this!