Perhaps you may wonder why I harp on things of the church as I did yesterday and Monday. I can tell you this, harping causes me trouble. Sometimes people think I am stepping on toes. More often, people encourage me. While I try to be objective in all feedback, I try not let either sway my writing. My writing is my devotional time between God and me. He has granted me a gift of writing, and I communicate with him through it. Most of the time, I have no idea what I am going to write about until I start writing. Yes, I may have themes, but the actual words and bible verses come each morning. The words simply flow.
Most of the time, I am working through personal issues. I try to be transparent, so you can relate. My primary, besetting sin is gluttony. It first manifested itself through alcoholism then through obesity. I am determined to claim Jesus’ promise that he has set me free. Indeed, he has, and he is taking me through quite a journey to accomplish this in my flesh. I share that journey, so you may perhaps use my experience in relation to your own besetting sin. Everyone has one. I have found that many people are like me, they prefer to keep that sin private which inadvertently protects it. Many will carry that sin until the day they die. What a shame! I hope to God someday soon I will be the weight that God intended me to be, of his image, rather than the over-sized version I have made myself in to.
Trouble is close to my door when I begin to tolerate sin. Soon, I find myself embellishing in it. Before long, I’ve gained five pounds, then ten. I know this routine all too well, yet I easily find myself falling back into it. It’s times like these that songs like “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” start to come to mind, and I realize just how deceptive sin is. It has its origins in my wicked heart making me very vulnerable to Satan’s bait. That is a fact of life. Another fact is that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and that he has set me free. My primary task in life is to be holy, as God is holy. Through that, I find the Second Great Commandment quite easy. Same is true with the Great Commission. When I honor God as holy, holy, holy and desire and allow him to transform me to be like his Son, everything else comes easily.
The church is a place that I am particularly sensitive to. In it, we should see transformation from what was to what God intends. When we see this, it is beautiful beyond description. Indeed, it is like a bride walking down the aisle. It takes a very hard heart not to tear up when looking at a human bride. Just imagine what it looks to Jesus like when the church is the bride. Imagine what the Father thinks! I have not given any my daughters in marriage, but I am already concerned that I will be overcome with love and emotion. Just imagine the outpouring of God our Father!
Until that day, the church is made up of broken people, prone to sin. The entirety of the bible is God’s call to his church, first his chosen nation of Israel then to believers of Jesus. Of course, this is an individual call as well, but we see warning after warning after warning to stay focused on God. We are warned that even a little straying can lead to aimless wandering. The prophets and the writers of the New Testament beg, plead, and warn the church to stay focused on the gospel. God is merciful and kind to correct us and guide us back on the path he has set. If we are stubborn, that gentle prod turns into a painful poke. If we are stiff-necked, he may give us up to our own devices and ruin. Now, I don’t believe the bible teaches that true believers are able to forfeit their salvation, but I do believe we see God letting us ruin this shell of our body in our sin.
It’s also clear to me that God will bless the body of believers, as a church, when they obey and walk close to him. It’s also clear to me that the church is warned when they allow members to speak and practice outside the true gospel as proclaimed by scripture and the apostles, of whose record make up our bible. In fact, we are warned that Jesus will remove the lampstand from churches who do not obey. All the letters of the New Testament hammer on this point.
We must be sensitive and responsive to this. I have been involved with churches who have wandered and are no longer walking with Jesus. The Episcopal church is a good example. From the pulpit, they freely proclaim that there are many paths to God, not just Jesus. They promote all sorts of sexual sin that is strictly forbidden by the bible. They even boast of bishops who are atheists. There are other denominations like it. The Episcopal church didn’t start off this way. In fact, they have a “manual” that every member is given called “The Book of Common Prayer.” In it, one can find the historical documents of the church. It doesn’t take much study to see that the modern version of the church has strayed far in practice from where it started and where it was just a few decades ago. It’s the same book, with a few changes. I understand the most recent version removed all reference to gender.
So, we see a major shift in a church that was probably started with small tolerances of sin, somewhere, somehow. Maybe it started with the clergy or maybe it started because the clergy allowed it to grow within the congregation. In any case, it snowballed to the point that I believe the church is an instrument of the devil. I have heard the agony of the older members as they bemoaned what was happening to their church. I witnessed the last of the bible-adherents leave the church in dismay and disgust as they removed themselves from any association to what was currently happening. Now, nothing is left except far-left progressives who openly interpret the bible any way they feel, even to reject it outright.
We would be wise to examine our own lives regularly for the encroachment of sin. Likewise, we would be wise to examine our own local congregation and any denomination it may belong to. When we do, we will find others who are eager to do this exercise. Others, perhaps many, will resist. Some may even fight you over it. My thought? Fight it back. Hard. There is too much as stake. We need to heed the warnings of the bible. We need to heed what has happened when churches don’t.
Father, stir your church. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers