FROM FORM to ESSENCE
BY: RAY PRINZING
“Having a form of godliness. But denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Tim. 3:5)
Godliness implies a life of holiness, reverence, or piety. The form of godliness might be viewed as that spiritual sounding recital of words, that circumspect appearance with emphasis on dress, outward looks, actions, speech shrouded in an array of good works. But the essence of godliness is the inner substance of His life abiding in us, daily working its powerful transformation. Outward forms can become a masquerade to cover the true conditioning of the inner nature. But when the power of HIS LIFE abides within, it will manifest itself in righteousness which transcends mere form, and become a praise unto the Lord.
Romans 2:20 speaks of “a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” Able to recite by rote the commandments of the law, yes. Head knowledge, but knowing little of the spirit, of the essence of the law. The form of knowledge, the stated creeds and doctrines recited on a Sunday morning can follow the pattern of the law, and we say, “thou shalt not covet.” Then we spend the rest of the week grasping for things, caught up in the spirit of the world to gain this and that, all for the satisfaction of the flesh. We do not mean to covet, and when the blunt words are spelled out, we shudder, but there is a subtleness to the ways of the flesh that easily ensnare a man. Then God begins an inworking – takes us beyond the form, and into the essence. It is no more just “of the letter of the law,” but now we begin to live in THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW, and marvel at the living reality of His truth which sets us free from sin and death.
There is a power, a life which goes beyond the superficialness of the form; it is the reality of HIS INDWELLING SPIRIT.
Into the essence, the nature of God,
The “afterwards” fruitage of discipline’s rod,
Nature of natures, His own to become,
Love in perfection to fill up the sum.