Isn’t zeal for God a sign of conversion?

Zeal is defined as the “enthusiastic devotion to a cause, an ideal or a goal; and tireless diligence in its furtherance.” Paul talks a great deal this word. In Galatians 4:18, he says it is always good to be zealous for a good thing, and Jesus said nothing is more good than God (Mark 10:18).

Zeal itself is to be commended if it reflects the right motives. Paul had commended the Corinthians for their fervor because it had encouraged others to good deeds (2 Cor. 9:2). The great prophets of God were zealous for Him. Elijah said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts” (1 Kings 19:10). King Jehu said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord” (2 Kings 10:16).

But Paul also said it’s possible to have a wrong kind of fervor. He understood that wrong fervor exists because of his former zeal for Judaism that led him to persecute the Christian church (Phil. 3:6). Driven by blind emotions, Paul murdered Christians in the name of God. This was all prior to his conversion, so zeal is not necessarily a sign of conversion. Today, we hear about the Islamic fundamentalist who in their great fervor for their faith, blow themselves up and kill innocent people without any regard to the sanctity of human life. Their motive is not after the Word.

How can we make sure we have the right the right kind of fervor? Paul gives the answer in Romans 10:2, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2). He says fervor should be “according to knowledge” –that is the knowledge of God’s Word.  The right kind of zeal has to be in accordance to the dictates of Biblical truth.

Having the right kind of zeal is very important in reaching others with the truth. We can’t kindle a fire in somebody else’s heart until we have one in our own. If we are enthusiastic, people will desire what we have. Does God deserve our enthusiasm? Can we think of anything that is more worthy of our zeal than God who loved us unto death? (John 3:16).

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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