"Having a form of godliness but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:5
We read in Scripture of the form and the power of godliness. When we look around us in the church, we see more of the form than we do of the power. There seems to be so many people who are merely playing religion. They attend services and go through the form of worship. They are sometimes very strongly devoted to their creed and greatly attached to the church of which they are members; but when you look for the power of godliness in their lives—you do not find it. This make-believe religion may ease the conscience for a time. People may manage to get along with such a religion in this world, but it will not stand the test of eternity.
Nor will it stand the real test for this life. The soul which has the form without the power of religion, can never have that satisfaction and peace which true religion gives.
Religion that can be put on with the Sunday clothes and taken off as easily, never goes very deep into the heart or life. While they profess to worship God, their hearts are far from Him. The service of such people is always weak, because there is no heart in it. Yet such people are not usually weak, when it comes to serving self and the world.
God hates the mere form of religion. It is an insult to him. He knows whether we are sincere or not—whether our service is just form or not. Modern ritualism is a curse to the church.
Ezekiel speaks of this class of people and says of them, "My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain!" Ezekiel 33:31
Isaiah, as quoted by Jesus, says of the same class, "This people honors Me with their lips—but their heart is far from Me!" Of what religion they have, Jesus says, "In vain do they worship Me!" Matthew 15:8,9