Josh. 7:5 π Josh. 7:11 π Isa. 66:4 π Mal. 2:16 π Mt. 5:32 π Mt. 19:6 π Mt. 19:9 π Mt. 24:12 π Mt. 24:13 π Mk. 10:9 π Jn. 14:6 π Rom. 2:6-10 π 1 Cor. 5:2 π 1 Cor. 5:11 π 1 Cor. 8:2 π 1 Cor. 12:26 π 2 Cor. 6:14 π 2 Ths. 2:11-12 π 1 Jn. 2:3-4 π Rev. 20:12
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life..." ( Jn. 14:6; top ) Some would glibly quip that if one finds Jesus, one has found the truth. And this is true - if one really finds the real Jesus. Far too often, however, what one has is a fuzzy, nebulous relationship with some spiritual being he calls "Jesus" or "God" or "the Holy Spirit" but then this person fails to rigorously apply all the truths of the Scriptures to His relationship with this being. What results is a relationship that has some genuine interactions with Christ, God and His Spirit (particularly in the first, early stages of his spiritual life) but gradually his life becomes tainted and corrupted with subtle compromises so that this spiritual being called "Jesus" quietly allows the self to keep this particular idol or that particular comfort or some teaching (error, "doctrine," dogma, "theology," philosophy or ideology) or yet some other idolatrous relationship.
The "church" is particularly good at providing a place where a "Jesus" (manufactured according to one's tastes and ideological preferences) of this sort is "worshiped" and "obeyed" (if one can truly call it obedience as this "Jesus" simply lets the individual do whatever is right - and sometimes even what is wrong! - in the individual's own eyes). And it is this accumulated leaven that is quite likely to cause an older believer to fall away at a later stage of his spiritual development. One who escapes most of the leaven of the "church" but who still retains even one element of it is still quite susceptible to following after a "Jesus" that lets him have his own desires, especially those subtle desires that come from the hidden, darkened, perhaps even demonized recesses of his soul.
Taking self to the cross is never an easy matter and God always touches and demands the very things that often we don't even realize how deep our attachment to them runs. Even our religious ideas and knowledge can easily be something that keeps us from a true knowledge of God. ( 1 Cor. 8:2 ) We can have and say all the right words and still not truly obey Christ and our obedience is the real test of the genuineness of our life in Christ. ( 1 Jn. 2:3-4; top )
Divorce can be a good example. God hates divorce - it is true. ( Mal. 2:16 ) But He also commands us to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. ( 2 Cor. 6:14 ) He further commands us to separate ourselves from those who call themselves brothers (or sisters) but yet who practice such evils as fornication (physical or imaginative), covetousness (desirous of wealth, things or comforts), idolatry (putting any person - especially self! - or thing above one's responsibilities and relationship with God), abuse (emotional or physical), drunkenness (drug or alcohol induced escapism), or extortion (manipulation to exert one's will on others whether for monetary or emotional gains - 1 Cor. 5:11; top ).
The "church" has often concocted a strict, blind legalism where marriage, remarriage and divorce are concerned. Anything other than marital infidelity (taken from Jesus' sayings in Mt. 5:32 , 19:9 ) makes a divorced person a sinner if they remarry - and this sin is apparently an unpardonable sin if one judges by the customary practice. "What God has joined together, let not man put apart" ( Mt. 19:6 , Mk. 10:9; top ) is often quoted but this is applied to relationships where the man and woman couldn't keep their sexual lusts under control and entered into "holy matrimony" only after multiple failed attempts to restrain their "burning passions." Even though the relationship was forged in sin, somehow we're supposed to believe that it was really God who put these two together and that now He is obligated to place His blessings on their "union." Quite overlooked is the times when God blessed the people of Israel because they divorced their foreign wives! (see Ezra 10) And Solomon would have done better in his old age if he had put away some of those women instead of participating in their idolatry. Purity of spirit and soul is of much greater importance to God than is an outward, superficial fašade of "marriage" and "unity."
The Corinthians were proud of how they tolerated the sin of the man who took his father's wife to himself. But Paul rebuked them: "You are proud! Rather you should have mourned!" ( 1 Cor. 5:2; top ) One man's sin was causing the whole assembly to be in error. How much more is it true today (as virtually all sects which claim to follow Christ have to tolerate one another's sinful differences or else their own deviations from Christ are called into question) that the sins of the many are contaminating almost all corporate practice of obeying and following Christ. Some are even so repulsed by the corporate expressions of "Christianity" that they over-react and completely reject the notion of there even being a corporate unity among true followers of Christ - if not in their thinking, their independent practices exclude those who don't perpetuate, conform to or at least condone their false "Jesus" who allows the independent individual to do whatever he wants.
One can talk and even pray about seeking God's will in life's situations all one wants to but if this "prayer" is really only a cover to seek an answer that coincides with our own hidden, inner desires, we can be certain that the enemy of our souls will be quite happy to step in and give us those desires - but his answers always carry along a hidden, ensnaring, steep price. Satan will be quite happy to send in one of his assistants to do their imitation of the voice of Christ in our life and God - who has never enjoyed the religious gamesmanship men play in their own hearts so that they can keep up the false belief that they are still in control of their own lives - will soon even give them over to the delusions they prefer above His will. ( 2 Ths. 2:11-12 , Isa. 66:4; top ).
As the lawlessness (the doing of what is right in one's own eyes) abounds, the love (the self-sacrificing attention to the good works God would have us do) will grow cold. ( Mt. 24:12; top ) That is, the people who are in the process of falling away from the faith will choose (according to their own preferences) whom they will help, how they will help them and to what extent they will help them. Excluded will be those people and works which God had set forth for them to do. In essence, such a one is their own "God" and will reap his own rewards. The shallowness of relationship with such a one will be exposed whenever one disagrees or dares to differ with the permissive "Jesus" the misguided believer follows. As soon as we expose or confront that brother's lawlessness, his love for us will likely be replaced with chilling distance, excuses and even outright hostility.
He who endures to the end shall be saved. ( Mt. 24:13 ) In the face of this Spirit-quenching shallowness, the true believer must press on with his own life with the Lord. One cannot make choices for other people but one must take care that his tacit approval of the other's choices doesn't become sin in his own life. Thirty-six men died at the first battle of Ai because of the sin of one other man. ( Josh. 7:5 ) That day, thirty-six women became widows and thirty-six families lost their fathers. And yet God said, "Israel has sinned." ( Josh. 7:11 ) The unity of the body is a fact of our genuine existence in Christ. "When one member suffers, we all suffer." ( 1 Cor. 12:26 ) The less spiritually attuned members may not recognize the damage done to others because of their own sin but God does. And He is faithful - when any member begins to willfully or negligently stray from the way that leads to life, someone else will know in one way or another. Though the tolerant false "Jesus" cares and does little or nothing about the spiritual damage done by the sin being practiced on a routine basis, the real One knows and is taking notes. In the end, books will be opened and each person will be judged according to his own deeds for what he has done. ( Rev. 20:12 ) Those who have accomplished more evil than good, who have obeyed unrighteousness instead of righteousness, who have believed lies and disobeyed the truth will receive indignation, tribulation, wrath, and anguish from God. Those who have accomplished more true good, obeyed righteousness and obeyed the truth will receive from God glory, honor, peace and eternal life. ( Rom. 2:6-10; top )
Let he who has ears hear.
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