“lip service” is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “an avowal of advocacy, adherence, or allegiance expressed in words but not backed by deeds”. The Urban dictionary provides further clarity by defining “lip service” as “to say something but not actually do it” and “to pretend to believe a certain thing but not practice that belief.
The reality of “lip service” from a biblical perspective cannot be ignored. In Mark 7:6-8 Jesus bridges the Old Testament to the New Testament period, as He quotes Isaiah the prophet.
Mark 7:6-8 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
In this address the Lord Jesus Christ is referring to Isaiah 29:13. This O.T. prophecy is one of “double reference” or “duel fulfillment”. Simply put this means that some prophesies have a short term fulfillment and a long term and final fulfillment. For the purpose of our discussion, this means that God followers in both the Old and New Testamental period, were called to practice what they proclaimed to believe, concerning God, His word, and our response to them.
One of the most sobering prophetic utterances concerning “lip service” came through the mouth of Jesus, where He declares “Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord,’… And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).
It would appear that our God really despises “lip service”. It is time we consider, very soberly, whether our practice matches our profession. Let’s consider some areas of American Christian lip service.
“We believe Jesus is coming very soon”
Christian media is filled with talk of the Lord Jesus’ soon return. Most Christians of any biblical literacy will agree, and even talk of the sign of the times. Despite this truth and the impact it is supposed to have, we find quite the opposite. Consider that Titus 2:11-14 and II Peter 3:10-14 call us to consider how Christ’s soon return is affect our behavior. These passages declare that our Lord’s second coming is to catalyze us to living holy, godly, without spot, blamelessly, zealously and always going about the will and work of God. Let’s be honest, most Christians are ignorant of the true meaning of these words and for the most part unconcerned, assuming that having “accepted Jesus” they’re cool, no matter how cold they are to His ways, work and will. This is “lip service”.
Even more primary to how we live in the light of our professed belief in Christ’s return is, that it is our blessed hope. This means that regardless of the circumstances we have hope and deep abiding joy, as we look for His physical return to catch us up to be with Him forever. This has been the fuel for Christians since Christ’s ascension and is the buoyancy of the persecuted church. Yet in America, many Christians live with more hope in the prospect of their party’s political candidate being elected. Hope does not disappoint, as God’s word declares, but many of the Christians in the U.S. are disappointed, frustrated and anxious. This is to give “lip service” to God’s word concerning “our Blessed Hope” the “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”.
“Nothing can separate us from His love” & “I will never leave you nor forsake you”
The two quotes above are well known and recited often in Christian circles in America. Let a brother take a down turn and a well-meaning Christian will quote the above verses, to encourage the down Christian to “buck up” and “cheer up”. Yet, allow the well-meaning encourager to hit a rough spot and they may sing another tune. Being a Christian is filled with trials and joys, in fact the greatest joy, by biblical definition, arises during trials. Perhaps we need to do a better job at living and teaching this truth, but it would seem we can be a depressed group of Christians; in comparison to Christians of other nations, where their trails are life threatening on an hourly basis.
No matter how often we quote this above passage, to behave as if Jesus Christ has forsaken us, when we say we believe the above passages, is “lip service”. Let us do some personal inventory, concerning this truth. Do we look for an immediate way out of difficulty? Do we feel as if God does not love us, because our circumstances have turned difficult? Do we sulk and question our calling when challenged by obstacles? Do we move into time wasting and carnality to avoid dealing with our problems with faith, as Christ is with us, even when we don’t feel him?
These are only two “lip service” issues prevalent among believers in America. Not only is it “lip service” it is also a poor testimony to the lost around us. Consider this quote from Christian Brennon Manning…
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
Although we could explore this topic of “lip service” in many ways, I would like, over the next few posts, to explore it regarding the power in the name of Jesus. In relation to the power of His name consider the passage below.
Acts 3:11-16 11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
In this passage we see that there is real power in the name of Jesus for all who use it in faith. But what does that mean and how ought it affect us, as we are to walk in faith? These questions are important, for to profess we believe there is power in the name of Jesus yet fail to live considering that power, is to give “lip service” to a most important foundation of God’s word.
The ramifications of misuse or watering down the power in Jesus’ name are far reaching, especially when we sing of the power in Jesus name regularly in our times of fellowship. Over the next three posts we will examine the singularly unique character of Jesus’ name—the power unleashed when we use His name in faith—how this worked practically in Acts chapter 3—and what gets in the way of our walking in the blessing of Jesus’ name.
Please begin to prayerfully consider the name of Jesus and walk with us as we discover the power in Jesus’ name, in the next post.