There is a description of the title of this series that is perhaps the most reprehensible in not only the sight of the Lord, for those we will speak of have “no fear of God before their eyes,” (Rom. 3:18) but also in those who are truly His obedient servants, for these that we will speak of lead the lost into a chorus and refrain of blaspheming His Holy Name. This is a difficult subject to broach, for though it lays the blame where it should be laid, it also points out the vicious sin of a counterfeit faith in the lives of those who claim to be Christians, and it points to the fact, in my opinion, that we are now living in the final stages of the apostacy.
God does not take us, as it were, from candles to electricity overnight, He is longsuffering and patient with us, and by His example we should be the same with all we meet. It takes much discipline to walk on the path that we are not forced to walk on, it requires a humble heart and the knowledge in all humility that we serve a God who does not need us but loves us deeply. Those that we will speak of do not know this path but have acted the part for so long that have become self-deceived, and those that they are attempting to have follow them are our concern today. (Matt. 23:14)
The breakdown of society around the world has been expected, for Gods blessings have been taken for granted, even dismissed, and so over the past half-century Satan has taken a firm foothold, and man has willingly followed his lead, and so then, as our Lord has done throughout time, He begins to remove His blessings, a sure sign that the judgement of nations will again need to be repeated. Those who say that we should learn from our past have apparently not been studying the Word of God in this area. What I personally did not expect to occur with such incredible speed was the downfall of the church, the body of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, or perhaps it would be best to say those that have professed only with their mouth Him as Lord, for there is a difference, one group is saved, the others believe they are.
As I have heard say by many God-fearing men over the last decade or so, it is becoming extremely difficult to tell the difference between the church and the world, and that my friends, is a sure sign of the apostacy.
As we discussed earlier in this series, there are those who ‘feel’ like they are saved, those who believe they are, and those who know for a fact they are, and these of the last group will never lose the assurance of that salvation. It is the second group that we will concentrate our efforts on today, those who believe they are saved. There are only two main sub-categories for these individuals, those whose hope is in Christ, who truly desire to serve Him well and willingly, yet because of circumstances either allowed by the Lord or brought upon themselves, they at times feel, for lack of a better word, a loss of the assurance of their salvation, and this bothers them deeply. These will save for another discussion at a later date, for it is a worthy discussion indeed, and time spent in helping others draw closer to the Lord Jesus is always time well spent.
It is the second sub-category we are interested in here today, those who believe they are saved but their words and examples are shown only in a religious setting, inside the walls of their church or when they are around those from their church. They do not know the feeling of the loss of the assurance we spoke of, for in their pride they will not believe that is possible for them. If you were to meet these individuals on the street for the first time, you would never know them to be ‘Christians,’ for although their conversations would be amiable and social, no words of Scripture would proceed from them, no seeking for the best for those they are speaking to in the spiritual arena, no praising of the name of the Lord. There is an air of authority around them, a confidence if you will, and one must be spiritually discerning to see these things for what they truly are, arrogance and pride. They are todays scribes and Pharisees. (Matt. 23:15)
It requires very few statements or questions to bring to the surface who they truly are, for when matters of the Word and will of God are brought up, when asked how the Lord Jesus has been changing and growing their heart, nearly always you will find that the conversation has come to an end and they need to move on to accomplish some daily chore. At other times you will be demeaned, to put it politely, which they always attempt to be, and in so many words they will inform you that ‘You are not to judge anyone,’ or you will inevitably hear the old standby ‘That’s between me and God.’ These are pious, self-serving, Pharisaic individuals who “have a form of Godliness, but deny the power thereof.” (2nd Tim. 3:5)
As I mentioned earlier, at their church and to those who have not studied the Scriptures in this area, they seem ‘religious,’ closer to God, as it were, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones. (Matt. 23:27) Unless the Lord is merciful to them, unless they become aware of just how deep a sin they are in, they will either be sent a strong delusion, (2nd Thess. 2:11) or they will die in their sins.
Let us move our concern for a moment to those that these speak to, whether they be saved or lost, for through their feigned words and false examples, they are not only deceiving themselves, but deceiving those who are new or as yet unlearned in the faith in this area, as well as the lost. Many have been drawn away by these hypocrites, professing in public a spiritual, yet sanctimonious air, a type of godliness that is self-centered and self-serving. The younger brother and the “silly women” (2nd Tim. 3:6) are led down paths that seem to them to be Godly, that seem righteous, but are a subtle deceit of Satan, and those who are doing the leading are “The blind leading the blind.” (Matt. 15:14) The lost world calls this ‘religious hypocrisy,’ and rightly so, for traditions of men in many places have replaced the precepts of God, repeated liturgies (Matt. 6:7) have taken the place of heartfelt and fervent prayers, (James 5:16) God-fearing, Christ-centered, Bible- believing worship services have been replaced with entertainment and the latest affairs of the world.
When the Scriptures speak of “The love of many shall wax cold,” (Matt. 24:12) it is not only referring to the world, for the world has never known the love of the Father, but of the church. The fellowship in many places has become more of a social gathering place, where “How can I pray for you this week,” has been replaced with “How are you” just another form of and innocuous greeting. Those who are suffering anything beyond the physical are shunned, and the thought of bearing each others burdens, (Gal. 6:2) has become a burden.
For more than a half-century now the lost world has watched as the church has imploded, and an “I told you they were no different than us” attitude has come to fruition. Why would they listen when many who call themselves Christians are doing and living a life that is really no different from theirs, when those who attend a Sunday morning service are living in sin with another, when curse words erupt from their lips with regularity, with no asking for forgiveness from the hearers, when commercialism and the attaining of worldly goods they greedily seek after the same as the lost, whether it causes them to be a slave to the lender, (Prov. 22:7) or not. Why would anyone want to be led by someone who is just like they are.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12) I do not think that Adam understood these words fully when our Lord spoke them to him, But we have no excuse, we have the complete and inerrant word of God at our disposal, and there will be none with an excuse. (Rom. 1:20) I believe these individuals deep down inside know that they are not of Gods children, for inside every human being there is a place where the truth cannot be hidden, but because of the free will that all have been blessed with, it can be buried very deeply and ignored, it can be regarded as foolishness, we have been allowed by our creator the ability to deceive ourselves.
When I have been blessed to expound fully the truths of the Words of God to people, some listen politely, then move on, others will question a point or two and then ponder these words, yet others have come to the knowledge and acceptance of the wonderful gift of His Son to us, and have become my brothers, praise God. But many, many times I hear, “I’ll figure it out when I get there.” Not so when I try to address the issues whit the ‘religious types,’ for they always seem to know more, to be more of a ‘Christian,’ to be self-centered and self-sure, instead of Christ like. The reproof of wisdom, (Prov. 12:1) is in their eyes seen as judgmental, The “Faithful wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6) they see as stabs in the back, and to expound to them the knowledge of the will of God are met with sneers of “You are too high and mighty” and need to stop judging.
It can be extremely difficult to reach the lost for Satan has blinded their minds, (2nd Cor. 4:4) but it is nigh on impossible to reach those who have become ‘religious,’ for the strength of self-will and self-righteousness is very powerful. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can they be shown the errors of their ways, and only when you are in complete submission to Him can you be used to reach either of these. The lost, those who have not yet accepted the Lord Jesus as Savior, have yet to experience the joy that awaits them, but those who are playing the game of ‘churchianity,’ those who have no fear of God before their eyes because of their self-righteousness, are also lost, for these are they that will say, “Did we not cast out demons in your name.” (Matt. 7:22) The most terrible part of all of this are those who will blaspheme the name of our Lord because of the actions of these individuals.
Be gentle to all that you meet, my brothers and sisters, be gentle, but be gentle with firm truth. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof and correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2nd Tim. 3:16) Reproof and correction are two of the things that too few Christians care to do these days, but they may be what is most needed, for when you perform these tasks, many times you will be ostracized and hated, but take heart, where you are going you will be welcomed and loved.