An Autopsy Of Dead Faith

October 5, 2020
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Recently, while studying research on dementia diseases, including Alzheimer's, I learned that scientists have discovered abnormal clusters on the brains of dementia victims. These microscopic plaques and tangles seen in dying nerve cells are comprised of twisted strands of protein fragments. We're familiar with the declining cognitive and bodily functions, but the degenerative process itself can be seen only through microscopic examination, on autopsy of the brain.

Dead faith is similar, and this verse came to my mind:

James 2:26 – As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (NIV)

We may see dead faith as unbecoming hypocrisy in others, but only God sees the spiritual plaques and tangles in the heart, including our own. Only God can perform an accurate autopsy on dead faith — and bestow renewed faith through sanctification. This renewing repair work continues throughout our faith journey. Certainly for me, God keeps on revealing residuals of dead faith, like those mentioned in James: double mindedness, selfish motives, self-deceit, pride, resentment, envy, coveting, and worldly affections. All of those plaques of sin reside within. God often uses others as mirrors to help me see that. Through those mirrors I come to see that their flaws are actually my own. I'm no different. Constant vigilance is required, because we can easily deceive ourselves.

Nevertheless, it's natural to feel demeaned by another's wrongdoing, whether experienced through conflicts, favouritism, narrow-mindedness, or controlling tendencies. It's hard to feel forgiving and merciful, especially if we've expected more from others. However, we can accept the inevitable decline of this grievously fatal condition in dementia victims. Just as it's easier to feel merciful towards them because we know that degeneration is happening in the brain, so we should have that same attitude towards the symptoms of dead faith. After all, it's also a fatal condition. It requires God's Spirit to cure spiritual de-generation through re-generation, in both ourselves and others.

I suspect that much of our distress over troublesome people is self-inflicted. We cannot accept the deadness of dead faith. We want what we can't have. "What causes fights and quarrels among you?", asks James. "Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? … You do not have because you do not ask God. … you ask with wrong motives." (James 4:1-3 NIV) We want something less than what God wants for us. We want life to work without distress from troublesome people. Yet, God may intend to use such distress to mature our faith and release us from the constraints of dead faith, thus freeing us to live effectively through vibrant faith.

I admit that such a motive doesn't interest me nearly as much as it interests God. Perhaps you feel that way, too. Then, why not join me in this daring petition:

Prayer: Great Saviour, I invite you to shine Your diagnostic light on the patches of dead faith in my own heart. Increase my capacity for mercy towards others, including myself, as I learn to wait patiently and prayerfully on You to transform hearts. Teach me to trust You more fully for Your ongoing renewing work of regeneration — in myself and in others. Amen.


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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks, Diane, for a thoughtful piece.


    Thanks, Diane. This is a good challenge for me.


    Very thought-provoking devotional. Well done Diane.


    Dear Diane, this is beautiful and insightful. Thank you.


    Amen, we can all use your prayer, Diane! God bless you!


    Thank you for sharing this insightful devotional with us. Blessings.


    Thanks for the autopsy, well done.
    Blessings.


    Good morning Diane,
    Thank you so much for that daring petition.


    Dear Diane Eaton,
    Thank you for a devotion with practical help.
    I prayed your prayer with sincerity.
    Keep writing.


    Hi Diane.
    Thanks for your devotion – The Autopsy on Dead Faith. This speaks to me. I pray for renewed and sustained faith in God.
    Thanks.


    Dear Diane,
    You always challenge me to think deeper about my faith or dead faith. You encourage me to seek God every day because I cannot do it alone. Thanks for sharing and may our prayers be answered.


    Thank you, Diane, for all of the devotional contributions you have made and will I trust continue to make. I very much appreciate your contributions, your devotionals.
    It is not only good to share your devotionals, but somehow it feels good to know the name of your town.
    Thanks Diane.


    Only God can breathe new life into dead faith.
    Praise Him when He does so.


    Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving Monday!! Monday Oct. 5th to Monday Oct. 12th I have been contemplating “An Autopsy of Dead Faith”! Your comment “This renewing repair work continues throughout our faith journey” made me think of Thanking God for all the blessing He has given us. Reminiscing of the blessings. Thanksgiving weekend 50 yrs. ago we moved into this house. Raised our children, grandchildren and now share with our great- grandchildren. I sat and remembered all the “Cloud of Witnesses” that God gave us to influence and get us through those years. Jesus Loves Me, Jesus Bids Us Shine and We Thank Thee, hymns and song; your devotions, Diane, and all those who make PresbyCan Daily Devotional possible, not only help us to get over Dead Faith but self-isolating, self-distancing and separation from Church family and blood family.
    Thank you for your devotionals!! Have a great Thanksgiving Monday!!

 



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