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Practical atheism is an acting as if but lacking substance. External forms of religion are maintained but self is the focus, not God. Ethics may be preached and often even attempted, but separate from the nature and essence of God. It becomes living as if they was no God.
Another term that was coined is “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” or a moralistic approach to life with good being defined by the popular culture rather than by what God says. God exists in this approach but again living is as if He didn’t. Life is about us and the eternal belief is that “good” people go to heaven.
The devil, the enemy of our souls, he is a practical atheist. He knows there is a God, but operates as if there were no God. The enemy believes in God, but he does not love God. The enemy knows he will give account to God, but he persists in his rebellion. The enemy acknowledges God, but does not glorify God.
The practical atheism of those who say they are religious, or Christian, or followers of Jesus but live as if God does not exist is a greater threat than actual atheism.
Actual atheists may think deeply and ponder the typical life questions and existence questions we all have at some point, and then they reject belief of God for a myriad of reasons. And actual atheists are often quite passionate about their rejection of God. They are often just as passionate as, and sometimes even more so than, true believers in God.
Practical atheism however leads to indifference towards faith and God.
Revelation 3:15-17 “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Psalm 14:1 “The fool said in his heart, “There is no God.” In his heart. So technically one can give lip service to saying, yes there is a God. However, what is in the heart? What will reflect my heart’s condition is my behavior. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and when it is sick, who will recognize it?”
So, a person may not even recognize their own atheism.
Joshua 24:15 “And if it displeases you to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell, but as for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord.”
If we are honest, there are times when, yes, even as a follower of Jesus, if we are not careful, we live like fools even when we say that God is there. We live as fools, practical atheists when we live for ourselves putting our self gratification above God, when we devour and worship the gifts God has given us in family, friends, home, belongings, rather than worshiping the giver, God, when we act as if we were self sufficient, don’t pray, don’t read the bible so don’t have God’s truths sinking into us each day, look to the once a week worship service to fill us or nourish us, we whine, complain, blame. Sure, we acknowledge Jesus with our lips but our behaviors say otherwise.
Today, I pray for us who are followers of Jesus that we each repent of living as a practical atheist. Whether it is all the time or occasionally, I pray we each turn away from the temptation to make this life all about us. I pray we each live like one who truly believes and knows, that God is real, He is with us. I pray for each one of us to be genuine in our faith.
For those who are not yet believers, I pray that you find yourself moved towards God, repenting which means exactly that, turned from your ways and turned to God. If you have any questions about what this means or how to do it, please feel free to contact me. It would be a privilege to discuss this with you.