“Some men have a very small Savior, for they are not willing to receive Him fully, and let Him do great and mighty things for them.” -D. L. Moody
It was J. C. Ryle that said:
“Look at the history of the church of Christ after the days of the apostles. How soon formalism ate out the life and vitality of the primitive Christians. Look at the Middle Ages, as they are called. Formalism so covered the face of Christendom that the Gospel laid there as one does when they are dead. Look, lastly, at the history of the protestant churches in the last three centuries. How few are the places where religion is a living thing! How many are the countries where Protestantism is nothing more than form! There is no getting past these things.”
I am here addressing the formal believers who deny "the gospel,” which was preached “unto you” by “the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven" (1 Peter 1:12).
These deny the giftings of the Holy Ghost.
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” -1 Corinthians 12:4-12
These formal believers would have you rest Scripture in having you believe them in that which counters the Word of God in their feigned and dissimulated state (Romans 12:9), rather than in God and His Word, which is immutable and infallible.
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” -1 Corinthians 4:20
These formal believers that just do not believe, would suggest to you that what the Lord has done in the past is now a work from the past. The Word of God in all of its promises is now nothing but a memory of better days! That in some way He was willing to do in the Old and New Testament what He is now unwilling to do today. This all coming to you from formal believers in Christ that just do not believe!
“Those that teach that the day of miracles is past, teach the most disastrous lie ever told… Such lies are responsible for the prevalent lack of faith in God and have robbed Christianity of the power to demonstrate itself.” -John G. Lake
Formalist: One who regards appearances only, or observes the forms of worship, without possessing the life and spirit of religion; a hypocrite. -Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
A formalist is one who plays the part and claims to have the answers that the world has great need of, and yet they are found to be false witnesses.
“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” -1 Corinthians 14:14-17
What would you think if I brought a freezing man a painting of a fire which cannot bring him any warmth? You would say that was cruel, and I would agree. What would you think if I brought a painting of a large banquet dinner to a starving man? Again, you would say that that is cruel, and again, I would agree wholeheartedly. Is that not what those who claim to be Christians do when they begin to denounce and counter the Word of God in all of its promises?
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” -2 Corinthians 1:20
You see formal believers that just do not believe seem to promise much, but deliver nothing but feeble paintings. The reason being is that these formal believers cannot deliver what they do not have.
Jesus tells us to “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8
Many of those who call themselves believers in Jesus Christ are found to be more like unbelievers. They have the shell and the form only. They have the head, but not the heart when it comes to what Jesus said that He would bestow upon those who do believe.
As a matter of fact, these formal believers that just do not believe like to set themselves next to Jesus claiming to be His, and then go on to deny to the world what Jesus promised to do for them.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” -Matthew 23:15
These formal believers that just do not believe omit the obvious when it comes to what is right in front of their faces
“And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” -Mark 16:20
Apparently, these do not understand,
“The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” -2 Timothy 2:6
These Pharisaical hypocrites, dead in the formality of their sins, profess their Christianity in word only as if they were just like Jesus, all the while denying Him.
“He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore, greatly err.” -Mark 12:27
For many of these said formal believers that just do not believe, they are more likely to denounce the Word of God in favor of their false professions and lack of spiritual life by blaming the Holy Ghost for not bearing witness to their lies.
Again, they are more like unbelievers than they are believers. They are more like anti-Christs who are, in fact, succumbers to this world, the flesh and the devil (1 John 2:15-18) in giving defeat a praise report than victory in Christ.
“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” -1 John 5:12
Maybe these formal believers that just do not believe have forgotten that “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
“For I am the LORD, I change not;” -Malachi 3:6
They have forgotten that He is faithful to a thousand generations.
“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” -Deuteronomy 7:9
It is not the Lord that has changed, it is man that has disobeyed and played the hypocrite by having one foot in the world and one foot in the Church (2 Corinthians 6:17; James 1:7-9, 4:4).
“The church will have a convincing testimony and will become a power in the world when it is separated from the world; but as long as it is hand in glove with the world, it cannot have power.” -D. L. Moody
These formal believers that just do not believe fail to deny themselves (Galatians 2:20) and take up their cross. Instead, they deny Christ (Matthew 10:33) and give heed to the commandments of man, which nullify the commandments of God (Mark 7:13) and union with the Father (1 John 2:23).
By keeping our eyes fixed on the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), we receive the end of our faith (1 Peter 1:9).
“That ye be not slothful, but followers (Imitators) of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” -Hebrews 6:12
These formal believers that just do not believe attempt to bring the rest of the world to their own level of unbelief, as if to suggest that they are the standard! (Abandoned to their sins - 1 John 3:4).
“Disregard them! They are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” -Matthew 15:14
Scripture tells us:
“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." -1 Thessalonians 1:5
Yet, the formal believers, who have a “form of godliness,” are well enough to leave off and deny the very Christ that bought them (Acts 20:28). Scripture tells us to turn away from them.
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” -2 Timothy 3:5
The good news is God will not deny Himself!
“If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” -2 Timothy 2:13