Daily, the world, our flesh, and the devil seek to deceive us into practicing some form of dead religion devoid of the power and counsel of the Holy Spirit. This is why the Bible instructs us to examine ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). We do this by opening our hearts and minds to the Lord through His Word and prayer. During this time, our minds are transformed by the Word so that we are able to discern the Lord’s will. When we follow His paths, we are filled with peace.
In the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit is symbolized by a dove (see Matthew 3:16, John 1:32). The dove is a bird known for its gentleness, peace, and purity. If the mark of true Christianity, the Holy Spirit, is represented as a dove, counterfeit religion could be represented by a pigeon. The pigeon may resemble a dove, but it is a bird that is easily enticed and manipulated; it is intrusive and combative. It stands in stark contrast to the dove just as true faith does to counterfeit religion.
Today, too many believers are being led astray by pigeon religion. While this counterfeit spirituality seems authentic, it is mere emotionalism, not truly led by the Spirit or submitted to God’s authority.
EVIDENCES OF FAITH
Dead faith can talk the talk, but it cannot walk the walk.
James 2:26 says, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” When faith is genuine, your claim matches your conduct. Your walk matches your talk. Sincerity is proven by its action and love is transformed into obedience. A living faith denies self, moves mountains, loves others, and continually seeks to please the Lord.
In contrast, dead faith—or “pigeon” religion—can talk the talk, but it cannot walk the walk. It accepts Jesus as Savior yet rejects Him as Lord. A counterfeit faith may only affect your intellect or your emotions, but a genuine, authentic faith in Jesus Christ involves every part of you. Your mind comprehends truth, your heart desires the truth, and your soul acts on the truth.
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How, then, does living faith come about in our lives? Jesus said, “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4). Only through Christ’s power working in us can this radical change happen in our lives. And His power can only come into our lives as we surrender daily to Him and abide in His great love.
If we want an authentic, living faith, we must be willing to check our hearts. This type of spiritual self-examination should never make us fearful. After all, we can find great comfort knowing that we are in the hands of the Great Physician. We can pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart. . . . See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:23, 24), trusting that our Heavenly Father will be faithful to bring to completion the work He first began in us.
If we find that we are out of step with the Holy Spirit, it does not mean we are disqualified from the faith. It simply means that God is calling us back to Him—back to the path of restoration and redemption. We need only repent and accept His invitation, and day by day our lives will be marked by the purity of the dove. Moment by moment, we will be led by our Father out of dead religion and into a living faith. Praise the Lord!