The Church of today has many problems, but I cannot think of one any more serious than its embrace of the world’s view of what it means to ‘love’ others. I have written about this on The OYL many times. This time, however, I want to focus on a specific consequence of the Church having accepted the world’s teaching instead of the Lord’s. I am talking about the misguided notion that believers must accept and love the lost without doing anything to offend them. Many of our leaders in the Church today tell us that we cannot point out sin, or condemn individuals for their actions. Nor can we call evil by its name. We are told that these things are ‘judgmental’ and, therefore, we must not do them because they are not Christ-like. Instead, we are told to just love the lost and hope that this will be enough to bring them to the Lord. Well, I do not take pleasure in saying this, but if a person believes these things, they do not belong to the Body of Christ!
A person cannot be separated from what”s in his heart: from his beliefs as manifested by the things he says and does, as well as by the company he keeps. The Pharisees knew this much, which is why they were offended when Jesus associated with obvious sinners. To them, this was a sign of hypocrisy. But look what Jesus actually did while He associated with those sinners (who he called ‘the lost’). Jesus did not accept their sin, or seek to make them comfortable in it. No, He made them aware of their sin, even calling them sinners to their face. In the case of the Pharisees, Jesus even insulted them, and said they were sons of the Devil. But Jesus also taught the lost how they should be living, the way that leads to eternal life. Finally, Jesus implored the lost to turn away from their sin and repent, and to live righteously from that point forward. This should be the example for true believers.
This is agape love in action; the selfless love Christ called us to show toward others — believers and lost alike. Yes, it does call for us to be kind, patient and merciful. However, it also calls for us to be strong and unwavering. We are not supposed to to accept sin, or the person who refuses to repent of their sin. When the rich man asked Jesus what more he had to do to receive eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his belongings, give to the poor, and follow Christ. The rich man could not do this, so he walked off. Did Jesus follow after the rich man? No! Did Jesus soften His demands? No! Jesus commanded His followers to preach His Gospel to the world, but He never told any of His followers to associate with, tolerate or accept those who refuse to acknowledge their sin and repent. In fact, Jesus told His disciples that, if anyone refuses to accept His Gospel message, His disciples are to shake the dust from their feet and move on to the next town.
This means believers are not supposed to force anyone to believe, nor are we supposed to punish those who refuse to accept Christ. We are supposed to preach the Gospel and leave the rest to the Lord and His Holy Spirit. But the world says that, by doing what the Lord commanded them to do, believers are saying they are better than the lost, and that their preaching actually demonstrates their arrogance. What’s more, if the believer obeys Christ and calls sin what it is and begs the sinner to repent and turn from his sinful lifestyle, the world says they are being judgmental, even hypocritical. Consequently, many-well meaning believers have turned away from the Lord’s commands and started to try to preach the Gospel the way the world says it should be preached. They do this because they think more of the lost will listen to them if they do not offend the lost. The only problem with that is it does not work. It is like Christ said: The darkness does not understand the light. So, what business does the light have trying to appease the darkness?
How many times did the Lord tell Israel to keep separate from the nations surrounding it? He told them not to marry women from the pagan nations, and not to have business dealings with them. Why? Do we think the Lord was trying to teach His people to be arrogant and judgmental? No! The Lord was trying to protect His people. You see, if God’s people become too familiar with the lost, the lost do not come to God, they draw His people away from God. We need only look to the cycle of Israel’s history to see this is true. God repeatedly saved His people, stood them up and made them prosperous. He told them they would remain prosperous, but only if they obeyed Him. Finally, He warned them to stay away from close associations with the lost or the lost would draw them away and they would be ruined in return. So what did Israel do? It repeatedly disobeyed the Lord, entered into close relations with the lost and was repeatedly destroyed for its disobedience. This is because they embraced the world rather than the Lord.
So, why does today’s Church think it is any different? Why does it act as though the Lord will never turn from or abandon it? No matter what it does, the Church acts as though there are no consequences. But doesn’t God’s Word say that, if we insist on living a sinful life that, eventually, the Lord will turn us over to the consequences of our lust? And that our lust will lead to own destruction? Doesn’t the Lord’s Word warn us that thieves, liars, adulterers, murderers and drunks will never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? We are called to be lights to the world. This means we are supposed to show — by our example — how God’s people are supposed to live. To do this, we must be in the world, but we must guard against becoming part of it. Well, the moment we turn from doing things God’s way and starts doing it the way the world says to do it, we become part of the world. But those who love the world cannot see their own sin. This is why they are called ‘lost’ in the first place: because they cannot see the Truth (not just Jesus, but God or any of His Laws). The world sees and loves only itself. This is why James says that those who love the world are enemies of God, and enemies of God are not for or with Christ, they are against Him. It is the same for the Church. If the Church embraces the ways of the world, it will lose its ability to see sin — even its own sin. At that point, the Church becomes an enemy of God!
The Church needs to understand this. It needs to remember it cannot serve two masters for it will either love one and hate the other, or love the latter and hate the former. Therefore, we either do it the way the world wants it done, and we fail, or we do it the way the Lord tells us to do it and we win. There is no middle ground. In this case, it means, if we find that we cannot name sin for what it is without being attacked by the world, we should rejoice! For Scripture tells us the world will attack those who preach the Truth of the Gospel. But if we find that we can preach and the world doesn’t object, well, then we need to take a good hard look at ourselves. In such a case, I’d ask that we all consider something an old pastor shared with me:
If you claim to be walking with the Lord, but you never meet Satan face to face, it means you are walking in the same direction Satan is. But if you are constantly meeting Satan face to face, then you know you are walking in the same direction as the Lord.
Remember, a person cannot be separated from his beliefs. If a person is of the world, they are lost — period! Believers are called to share the Gospel with the lost, and show them the agape love of Christ — nothing more. We are not called to accept the lost or their ways, neither are we called to soften the Gospel message so as not to offend the lost. We are supposed to show that we are different, that we are not of or like this world. It is supposed to show in our actions. Christ’s gave Himself as an example, and His example is how we are supposed to live. How we live is also supposed to be part of how we teach the Gospel. Nowhere in God’s Word does the Lord tell us to do otherwise. Nowhere does the Lord tell us to accept unrepentant sinners into our fellowship, or to tolerate their sin in our personal lives — especially when that sin is inside the Body of the Church. On the contrary: when we find unrepentant sin within the congregation, we are told to push it out of our fellowship and back into the world. This is because the person cannot be separated from what is in their heart: from their beliefs, as manifested by their words and deeds, and by the people with whom they associate. Remember, we are the Body of Christ. As such, sin is an infection in that body, and it must be fought. This is why unrepentant sinners are to be kept out of the body, and also why, if they are found within it, they are to be pushed out of the body. To allow close fellowship with unrepentant sin is to join the Body of Christ to that sin. You cannot do that and be obedient to the Lord at the same time.
THE NATURAL LAW SIDE OF THIS SAME SUBJECT
The first chapter of Romans tells us that God has given us two sets of laws: Natural and Revealed. I keep another blog, The Road to Concord, which I focuses on God’s Natural Law and its connection to the founding of the United States. Yesterday, I posted a piece on that blog that is the Natural Law counterpart to this post. If you would like to read it, you can find it here:
[NOTE: I have placed this blog in the Lord’s hands. I am no longer cross-blogging to other sites. I am not pushing this blog in any way. If others are going to find it, and if it is going to grow, it will be up to the Lord to make it happen through you, the reader. If you like this post, or find it to be of any value, then please share it with others. Otherwise, I will simply continue to share the understandings I have been given and, as I said earlier, I will leave the fruit of my effort for the Lord to handle.]