Mt. 7:20 π Mt. 24:4-5 π Mt. 24:5 π Mt. 24:10-11 π Mt. 24:12 π Jn. 6:29 π Jn. 10:27 π 1 Cor. 5:11 π 2 Cor. 4:3 π 2 Cor. 6:16-7:1 π Eph. 5:11; 2nd π Phlp. 2:14-16 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 2 Tim. 3:1-5 π 2 Tim. 3:5 π Heb. 12:15-17 π 1 Jn. 3:3
There are some who object to the scrutinizing of any particular man or ministry or movement or denomination or even style or manner of practicing Christianity. Such scrutiny, they say, is "divisive" and counter-productive to accomplishing the "work of God." According to these people, to point out the flaws and faults of others is the sin of fault-finding (a sin not found in the best translations of the New Testament, by the way). Of course, these do admit, no teacher is perfect, and therefore we must have discernment as we list to their teachings.
This is no easy matter here to untangle the truth from the deceptions so let us examine things one element at a time.
First, there is indeed a sin of fault-finding though it is more rightly called "judging wrongfully." This sin is the obsessive compulsion some people have of seeking to discover only what is wrong with the others around him. This knowledge is sought, not as a means of finding some remedy for the problem, but as a means of feeling or imagining oneself to be spiritually superior to those in whom they perceive some fault. This sin is practiced with equal abandon in the pulpit as out of it - the only difference is that the "pastor" is (or at least was in times past) expected to point out the sins of others.
But this sin of fault finding or judging wrongfully is not necessarily the same thing as scrutinizing a man or a ministry. "By their fruit you shall know them," Jesus said. ( Mt. 7:20; top ) There is a knowledge about others that is both right and necessary. Why do we need such knowledge?
The first reason is that if we refuse to seek out a right understanding of the faults of any man or ministry or "church" which we follow, we are doomed to participate in, practice and perpetuate any errors that are truly there. Paul wrote, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." ( Eph. 5:11; top ) Today's "tolerance" mentality (historically gleaned from a rightful backlash against the oppressions and persecutions practiced against followers of Christ who have dissented against the status quo and powers ruling over various sects of the "church" whereby dissenters were ostracized, exiled, tortured or even killed for their beliefs) causes us to believe it is our responsibility to not even be concerned about the works of darkness in our midst. The one who dares to exposes them - as Scripture commands - is the one who is now ridiculed, ostracized, exile, persecuted and will one day be killed for his daring to dissent against the status quo traditions of men that war against the word of God.
A key question arises here: Is the "church" really accomplishing the work of God or does it ally itself with the world and the devil and accomplish more eternal harm than good? Jesus said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." ( Jn. 6:29; top ) Faith, truly operative, experiential trust in the Son of God, is virtually antithetical to the come-and-be-taught philosophy of the "church." Anyone who does only what God instructs him to do is soon unwelcome at any "church." "Churches" often do works that seem good - feed the poor, establish homeless shelters in large cities, build orphanages in third-world countries, send missionaries, etc. - but the bottom line question of whether it is a work for God or a work of God is never even considered let alone voiced. Were God to reveal to us just how little He does within the context of "church," our whole way of thinking would be forever and dramatically changed. Anyone who blindly assumes the work of God and the work of the "church" to be one and the same thing is not able to rightly judge much of anything. This one has failed to rightly judge the "church" to which he belongs and he has simultaneously failed to discern the God to whom he claims to belong.
A second reason we must seek out a right understanding of the faults of a man or a ministry or a "church" or even the whole of the "church" paradigm is that we are under obligation to God to purify ourselves before Him. John wrote, "Everyone who has this hope in Him [that we shall be like Christ when He is revealed as King and Lord of all] purifies himself, just as He is pure." ( 1 Jn. 3:3 - emphasis added) Anyone who does not purify himself from both this own faults and the faults of the man, ministry, "church" or denomination to which he subscribes is doing great damage to his hope of being made like Christ and is putting his eternal inheritance in Christ at great risk. (Also see Heb. 12:15-17; top )
"What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they shall be My people.' Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.' 'I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the
Paul had previously written, "Now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother who is...an idolater... - not even to eat with such a person." ( 1 Cor. 5:11; top )
We are commanded by Scriptures to separate ourselves from those who practice idolatry in the name of Christ! How can we do so if we refuse to identify and expose the things that make their practice of "Christianity" idolatrous? "Church," as it is routinely practiced today, is a conglomeration of idolatrous practices gleaned primarily from Greek paganism. Very little of the practice of "church" comes from the Scriptures.
Interestingly, when one begins to speak against these errors, the defenders of "church" - quite often the very ones who object to "fault finding" - begin to question the one speaking: "Where do you fellowship?"; "Do you hold down a job?"; etc. - all as a means to find fault with the person who dares to speak against the unfruitful works of darkness their "church" perpetuates in the name of Christ so that he or she can summarily dismiss and disregard the truth. When the truth is inconsistent with out cherished man-made traditions, it is still easier and preferable to our flesh to condemn and crucify the messenger rather than to acknowledge the truth and repent of our sins against God and men. Nothing has changed since the days of Christ. The entrenched religious status quo power mongers still compete against God to gain followers for themselves - ultimately and truthfully, followers for the devil.
The hypocrisy of refusing to find fault with one man or ministry or movement or denomination or the whole of the "church" paradigm while using fault finding to dismiss the ones who boldly speak against the lies of the "church" is a sign that that one is perishing. Paul wrote, "If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing." ( 2 Cor. 4:3; top ) The gospel is liberty and light. Those who cannot enter into the liberty of the Holy Spirit - especially liberty from the schemes and snares of the devil - and who cannot see the light of truth when it is presented to them are in the process of perishing because they are rejecting Christ and His Spirit. If these wish to be ultimately and eternally saved, they must relinquish their manmade traditions and repent of having warred against the Person of Christ even in their use of His words and His name.
Make no mistake. Few will do so. Many will allow their agape love to grow cold as they pursue what is right in their own eyes. ( Mt. 24:12 ) Great will be the number of those who fall way from the true faith even as they practice "churchianity." ( Mt. 24:5 , 10-11 ; 2 Ths. 2:3 ; 1 Tim. 4:1 ; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; top )
Nothing changes within the "church." Long after they should be doing the true work of God's kingdom, most people in "church" remain spiritually shallow and superficial, trapped by their various sins and completely unaware that it is the very "church" system to which they subscribe that is the primary shackle by which the demonic keeps them under their control. Ten, twenty, even thirty years later, the same people sit in the same pews suffering from the same problems that plagued them before they came to "know Christ." Or they are shocked when their favorite spiritual guru is caught embezzling "church" funds or fooling around with a "church" secretary. But these same ones proclaim that they listen with discernment to their favorite teachers. If they had exercised true godly discernment, they wouldn't be shocked by the public exposure of their teacher's sins - they would have already known about them and abandoned their idolatrous worship of that "pastor" or teacher long ago!
Paul wrote, "Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain." ( Phlp. 2:14-16 ) There are some who read this and equate "murmuring and disputing" with the fault finding so routinely practiced in religious circles. What is missed is that we must first hold fast to the word of life before we can know what the truth of a matter really is. So many are now holding fast to their own opinions (not the real word of life) of what is right and true and then using those opinions to judge others (and most often not themselves!). This is merely lawlessness - doing what is right in one's own eyes - and it makes no difference whether this is practiced by a lone individual or by a popular "pastor" and all his sycophant followers. It is still sin and death. And once we have learned to distinguish and hold fast to the word of life, we will find there is no need to murmur or dispute. Christ's sheep hear Christ's voice. ( Jn. 10:27 ) When a lawless "church"-ite rejects the truth and clings instead to his powerless form of "godliness," one who is shining brightly in the midst of a crooked and perverse generations is not shaken and can easily (however sadly) withdraw from such lawless idolaters. ( 2 Tim. 3:5; top )
When Paul says that he is concerned that he may have run or labored in vain, we should take note. The Philippians to whom Paul was writing had received Christ and were operating in the baptism of the spirit. They were sending gifts to Paul to support his work in the Lord. Many groups today would claim that such as these are unquestionably "saved" and are in no danger of falling away from Christ. Paul is concerned, however, that his work among the Philippians may yet prove to have been in vain - unless, that is, they press on to become blameless and harmless children of God without fault. To be without fault we must not blindly tolerate faults - neither in ourselves nor in others - but rather we must expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness. ( Eph. 5:11; top
If we hope to be the spotless, blameless bride for which Christ returns, we must purify our hearts and minds and lives now. Anything else is simply a lie designed to rob us of our inheritance in Christ.
"Take care that no one deceives you. For many will come claiming, 'I am the one anointed by Christ to lead you' [the "pastor," the preacher, etc.] and they will deceive many." ( Mt. 24:4-5 - emphasis added; top)
Let he who has ears hear.
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