Something drastic is happening in our churches and we must be aware and alert to these attacks. Let me open this up with Paul’s warning to Timothy. These are found in both I Timothy and II Timothy:
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some believers will follow spirits that deceive, and they will believe the teachings of demons. These people will speak lies disguised as truth. They will twist and rewrite Scripture to suit their lies. Their consciences will be scarred as if branded by a red-hot iron . . .
I solemnly call on you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge those who are living and those who are dead. I do this because Christ Jesus will come to rule the world. Be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right. Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them. Be very patient when you teach.
A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths. (I Timothy 4:1-4; II Timothy 4:1-4)
So why arm I sharing this? Because Paul went on to write, “You are a good servant of Christ Jesus when you point these things out to our brothers and sisters. Then you will be nourished by the words of the Christian faith and the excellent teachings which you have followed closely” (I Timothy 4:5-6)
All of us are dealing with “stuff” in our life. We are burdened with sins that just won’t fall off. Yes, the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sin, but we must continue to fight the influence of the World.
Within many of our churches, we are facing attacks against the very foundation of our beliefs. They are viewed as “Old” and “Outdated.” Society (even some Pastors) tells us that we must change this if we wish to be “relevant” to the “un-churched,” if we hope to reach them with the “Gospel.”
Okay, so what Gospel are we going to give them? If a person wants to accept the claims of Jesus, but insist on continuing the sin in their life, that person is not ready to receive salvation. In fact, they probably do not view that there is any sin in their life! Well friends, that is the most basic premise of our faith. We hold that everyone has sin in their life, and we must be willing to turn from that sin in order to accept Jesus. Let me show you how this might work.
A coworker, who was also a practicing homosexual, asked me to pray with him to accept Jesus. As I said, I knew him from work, and I also knew he was a homosexual. So I said that I would be honored to pray with him. But before I could, I had to make sure he understood that homosexuality was a sin. After we had looked at several passages in the Scriptures, that clearly taught that it was sinful, he said he didn’t care and would continue to live the lifestyle he wanted.
Some of you are going to argue with me on this, but I did not pray with him. I couldn’t. His acceptance of the Gospel implied that there was a desire to turn away from sin, and not simply deny that the way he was living was sin. Now, if he had accepted that his homosexual behavior was a sin, but he did not know if he could change, that would have been a completely different story! I would have instantly prayed with him to receive Jesus and asked the Lord to give him the Grace to turn away from this sin (and every sin).
The point I am trying to make is that every kind of sin (and not just homosexuality), cannot be accepted. If you are not willing to renounce your sin (all the sin that is in your life), you are not ready to pray to receive Jesus. You must have at least a desire to turn away from sin and embrace a righteous lifestyle and pursue Holiness.
Please understand, your salvation is not dependent on how successful you are in turning away from sin, nor how successful you are in living a Biblical lifestyle, but you must have at least a desire to walk in obedience. Without that, what you are saying is that you want to continue in sin, yet still be redeemed. In other words, you want salvation, but reject regeneration.
Folks that ain’t gonna work because it is incompatible with a true salvation experience. Go ahead and send me nasty emails, but you must surrender to your Lord if He is going to be your Lord. I have always taught that what separates a non-believer to a disciple of Jesus is that the former what to get away with sin, where the latter wants to get away from sin. It is a matter of where your heart is.
Above, I told you that churches are being infiltrated and attacked because they feel our doctrines and teachings are outdated, and need to evolve with the times. Well, I disagree. I want to show you something that you can find in the book of Ezra.
The Hebrews had been in captivity for many years, and they were finally allowed to return to their land to rebuild their Temple. Now this rebuilding project began with a lot of high expectations and joy. They even approached the rebuilding with reverence and enthusiasm to return to the true, Bible-based religion. But almost immediately they ran into opposition. You see, there was a group of locals (Canaanites) who came over and offered to help them build the temple and even contribute to the building.
Now that was pretty neighborly of them, don’t you think? But the Hebrews slapped them down quite harshly. As I understand it, in the Middle East society has always operated on a shame and honor based system, so when people of Israel publicly refused their offer to help (even if the offer was insincere and manipulative) it resulted in shame being heaped on the folks who made the offer. They must remedy this shame, or there would be revenge.
So let me ask you, should the Hebrews have been at least a little more genteel and charitable? Should they have acted “in love” and accepted their offer because it would bring at least a temporary time of peace and good will?
Well, in answer to your question: No. The thing is, if we want to fulfill Yahweh’s will, it often means that we must go against the expected conventions and courtesies of this world. There is no way the Lord would allow these two groups to merge essentially into a common cause. It would (slowly, but eventually) jeopardize the identity of the Jews as being faithful servants of the God of Israel.
This is one of those stories that is often used in Church sermons to demonstrate how Christ and His teachings were better and more loving. It proves that the Jews should have turned the other cheek and let love rule. I mean, their actions proved how arrogant and selfish they were, holding onto outdated and ancient beliefs, right? They should have shown Christian tolerance and allowed the merger with their neighbors to happen and then let God worry about sorting it out later if he had to.
Yeah, yeah. This in this same spirit and rationale we see in many churches today. They want to find common ground with Islam, or to find ways to accept homosexuality as being good and normal, and gay marriage as desirable and even applauded by Jesus. Why? Because it supposedly demonstrates our underlying values of love, mercy and peace.
But here’s the thing. The Jews led by Zerubbabel knew that they could never join themselves with non-Believers and idolaters who had no interest in scrupulously following God’s Word. They would lose the clear commission that Yahweh gave them to re-institute true and proper worship.
I’m sure they were probably tempted to find a suitable compromise with their neighbors after months, and then years, of barriers, roadblocks, threats, and no progress on rebuilding the Temple. But to their credit they remained mostly on the high road; they did what was right in Yahweh’s eyes and let the chips fall where they may.
I can promise you that the Church will never be able to be salt and light to this dark world with an evolving compromise with what God calls evil. Nor will we influence the World by diluting our strong identity with Jesus. As one writer explained: “Painting our positions on Godly morality, on the nature of true Biblical religion, and on divinely commanded behavior in pale pastels instead of bold contrasting colors is what has led The Church to the edge of irrelevance if not apostasy.”
I’m sorry if this offends you, but our tolerance of sin; our continual acceptance of false but familiar doctrines, and our willingness to participate in whatever current political and social correctness that makes us feel good and allows us to maintain a close friendship with the world is what is minimizing our influence in the world. It must be stopped and replaced with sincere obedience to the Lord at whatever personal cost there may be.
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.