Look At the Orientation of the Ten Commandments To See What God Desires From Us

And notice that all of the Ten Commandments are oriented toward others: God and neighbor.  Much of our piety is focused on “me and my inner life.”  Just look at the Christian Living section of the average bookstore.  Yet God’s commands are focused on what it means to be in a relationships with other: to trust in God alone and to love and worship him in the way he approves and to look out for the good of our fellow image bearers.

– Horton, Michael, T; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 43

God’s Desires Are Far More Simple than Our Attempts to Appease Him

More than he wants our acts of piety, more than he wants our adherence to religion, more than he wants our observance of rules and rituals, more than he wants our words of affection, he simply wants to know us and for us to know him.  And ultimately that’s how our relationship with him will be defined.  And if that isn’t there, all prophesying, exorcisms and miracles in the world won’t matter.

– Idleman, Kyle; Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus; Zondervan; copyright 2011; Grand Rapids, MI; Kindle Edition; page 108

The Source of All True Piety

Those who have almost forgotten about their own spirituality because their focus is so exclusively on their union with Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished are those who are grouping and exhibiting fruitfulness.  Historically speaking, whenever the piety of a particular group is focused on OUR spirituality that piety will eventually exhaust itself on its own resources.  Only where our piety forgets about ourself and focuses on Jesus Christ will our piety [be] nourished by the ongoing resources the Spirit brings to us from the source of all true piety, our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Sinclair Ferguson

as quoted by Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 68

It Will Make Him a Saint in His Shop

Again, let a Tradesman but have this intention, and it will make him a saint in his shop; his everyday business will be a course of wise and reasonable actions, made holy to God, by being done in obedience to his will and pleasure …He will therefore consider, not what arts, or methods, or application will soonest make him richer and greater than his brothers, or remove him from a shop to a life of state and pleasure; but he will consider what arts, what methods, what application can make worldly business most accepable to God, and make a life of trade a life of holiness, devotion, and piety.  This will be the temper and spirit of every tradesman; he cannot stop short of these degrees of piety, whenever it is his intention to please God in all his actions, as the best and happiest thing in the world.

– William Law

as quoted byBridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 152

Our Trivialized Lives

Heightened by the agnosticism of inattention – the lack of personal discipline over media bombardment, mind control, sterile conversation, private prayer, and the subjugation of the senses – the presence of Jesus grows more and more remote.  Just as the failure to be attentive dissolves confidence and communion in a human relationship,so inattention to the Holy unravels the fabric of the divine relationship.  “Thorns and thistles choke the unused path.”  A verdant heart becomes a devastated vineyard.  As we periodically close off God to our consciousness by looking the other way, our hearts are chilled.  Christian agnostics don’t deny a personal God; they display their unbelief by ignoring the sacred.  The paltriness of our lives is mute testimony to the shabby furniture of our souls.

And so our days become more and more trivial.  “We get caught in a hectic maze.  Rising when the clock determines.  Battered by the news headlines that seem remote and beyond our reach.  Jangled by all the mechanical operations that lunch us into activity and productivity.  Tested by traffic, forced to calculate time and distance to the second.  Elevators and phones and gadgets guide us through necessary interactions and keep human interactions superficial and at a minimum.  Our concentration is interspersed by meetings and small crises.  At the end of the day we rewind ourselves: traffic, automation, headlines until we set that alarm clock to dictate tomorrow’s awakening.  Routines of ticking and timing.  Little room for responding humanly and humanely to the day’s events; little time to enter into the wisdom and freshness and the promise of its opportunities.  We feel our lives closing in, confining and comforting us.

We settle in and settle down to lives of comfortable piety and well-fed virtue.  We grow complacent and lead practical lives.  Our feeble attempts at prayer are filled with stilted phrases addressed to an impassive deity.  Even times of worship became trivialized.

– Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, copyright 1990, 2000, page 179-180

The Rigorous Activity of the Pharisees

Evangelism.  Tithing.  Prayer.  Bible study.  These are but a few of the rigorous activities of the scribes and the Pharisees.  In all these things they excelled. But their activity was almost solely external.  They were hypocrites.  They went through the outward motions of piety, but their hearts were far from God.  They kept the letter of the law but killed the spirit of the law.

– R.C. Sproul, Knowing God, copyright 1988, page 53-54