I have found myself preaching a lot about Christians rebelling against God lately. I feel a strong holy discontent about what I see in our culture and how the Christian body isn’t holding to God’s truth or the doctrines clearly laid out by Paul in his letters.
I want to take a moment this morning and outline for you the problem as I see it and hope that you not only can see the logic in this argument, but you will be able to use this description in your own ministry work.
We all know the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Edan and their fall by disobeying God, causing sin to enter the world. But that is not where the story actually starts. To understand where I’m going with my thoughts this morning you have to go back to Isaiah 12:14-15. Read this:
12 “How l you are fallen from heaven,
O 1 Lucifer, 2 son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart:
m ‘I will ascend into heaven,
n I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the o mount of the congregation
p On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
q I will be like the Most High.’ 15 Yet you r shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the 3 lowest depths of the Pit.
I want to focus on verses 13-14 where Satan said he wants to basically sit on God’s throne and be in charge. Let’s set the scene a little. Lucifer is an angel. In fact, he is one of the arch angels with Michael and Gabriel. Some think he actually could have been the lead angel in heaven! God’s number one angel! And like a lot of right-hand men, Lucifer thought he could do a better job at running things than God; Satan was the first disgruntled employee! I don’t know if you’ve ever been in leadership, but there is always some joker under your supervision that believes they know how to do your job better than you! Lucifer is that guy in Heaven.
It seems apparent that Lucifer didn’t like the way God was running things. From his perspective, you can get that. God made man and crowned him with glory and honor even though man was made a “little lower than the angels.” (Psalms 8:5). Lucifer probably took this personally! Why would some creation lower than him be crowned with glory and honor and not the angels themselves?
So, like any good disgruntled employee, Lucifer starts talking to other employees around the water cooler, firing them up against the boss and His decision. Scripture indicates that one-third of all the angels in heaven agreed with Lucifer that God was wrong and took Lucifer’s side! (Revelation 12:4)
We see in the Isaiah verses above and in the Revelation verse that Satan and his mob are kicked out of heaven and are cast to earth. And thus, it begins. Satan is so ticked off that he makes it his life goal to do everything he can to destroy man and everything else God created!
Paul tells us that we are not to be unaware of Satan’s schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11). So, let me share what I see Satan doing in our Christian body and how it is playing out.
Simply put, Satan is trying to convince us to sit on God’s throne just the same way he tried to!
Satan has been quite successful from what I see in our churches and congregations at convincing many believers that God is wrong about a number of things ranging from the existence of absolute truth to LGBT social justice issues to the definition of sin to even the validity of the Bible as God’s inspired Word and truth. Satan is a masterful manipulator and uses all the worldly tools at his disposal to convince Christians that God is wrong about some things and that because we know better we should sit on God’s throne and make better decisions than God is making.
Here’s the problem with that thinking:
If God is wrong about anything, God is no longer perfect.
If God is no longer perfect, God is not God.
If God is not God, there is no God.
If there is no God, then all is permissible.
To quote scripture, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). In other words, we reject that God is God and we have no king, so we do whatever is right in our own eyes.
And that is exactly what I see in the American Christian church today. Now before you call me judgmental, self-righteous, unloving, and all the other words Christians throw around, let me remind you that we are, indeed, to judge and hold our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ accountable to the standards of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-12). The most unloving thing you can do is turn a blind eye toward those falling away because they truly are in danger of Jesus telling them that He never knew them! (Matthew 7:21). So, in the spirit of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17) here is my analysis of what I see in today’s church:
· Apostasy – churches deciding for themselves what is and is not sin according to their own feelings instead of following God’s commands
· False Teaching – Pastors doing biblical gymnastics trying to make the Bible say what they want it to say instead of what it actually says
· Lost Commitment – Churches that don’t care whether people go to hell or not and only care about their own comfort
· Lost Focus – Churches that have become clubs and social groups instead of actively working in the Kingdom of God
· Fear-Based Decisions – Not wanting to offend anyone, these churches simply preach the partial gospel of love without truth
· Fire and Brimstone – Believe it or not there are still some churches out there preaching truth without love! Again, partial gospel and wrong
· Accommodating – These churches and institutions try to have it both ways by saying they hold to biblical truths while accommodating and enabling unbiblical ideas under the guise of tolerance, non-judgmentalism, and love
· Rejection – Lastly, I see people claim to be “Christians” who think God is unreasonable, His Word is not inspired nor divine, and basically reject God’s absolute truth and doctrine in favor of their own understanding of their relationship with Jesus, which of course allows them to do whatever they would like to do!
Perhaps this is why Jesus taught that the gate to eternal life is narrow and few actually find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) In case you don’t understand what Jesus meant, He basically said many who think they’re going to heaven aren’t! (Matthew 7:21)
I have to admit I am a bit perplexed about what to do about all this. Part of me just wants to throw my hands up, go to a monastery and make chocolate and beer for the rest of my life in quiet solitude. Another part of me wants to fight against all this in an attempt to open the eyes of my brothers and sisters who are straying so badly and clearly don’t understand the consequences of their actions.
Let me make this LOUD AND CLEAR: This blog is not for non-believers. If you don’t follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you cannot possibly be held to His standard because you have not been born again of the Spirit; have not become a new creation in Christ; and have not been transformed by the renewing of your mind. This blog is for the church – those of us who are believers, agreed to follow Jesus and do all He commands.
Solomon tells us that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 9:10) I think the church as forgotten this. God has become our buddy, someone with which we can agree to disagree and think we’re still friends. Scripture tell us that if we are friends with the world, we are an enemy of God! (James 4:4). Jesus said plainly that you are either with Him or against Him! (Matthew 12:30). God loves us; we are a friend of God through Jesus; but never ever forget that His ways are higher than our; his thoughts are not our thoughts; and nobody has ever given God counsel! (Isaiah 55:8-9; Isaiah 40:30; Romans 11:34).
I wrestled with God for nearly 10 years before heeding His call for me to become ordained. I took very seriously James’ admonition not to be eager to become a teacher or preacher because those who do will be held to a stricter judgment because they handle God’s word. (James 3:1). I also take seriously God’s warning to Ezekiel in Ezekiel 3:18:
When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.
As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am accountable for the blood of those I do not warn – inside the church and outside the church. When my time is up and I meet Jesus face to face I don’t want Jesus to bring out a list of people I was commanded to warn and then ask me why I didn’t tell them.
My commitment in this area of exhortation doesn’t make me the most popular guy at the party. But I would rather someone be offended, think me judgmental and self-righteous and all the rest than see them meet Jesus and be told that He never knew them and be stunned when Jesus sends them packing to hell.
That all said, if you are a “Christian” who falls into the categories I mentioned above, I’m going to tell you what the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus Himself have been saying for 5,000 years: Repent and return to the Lord! He is right and you are wrong – deal with it.
If you’re reading this and think that I’m wrong and that God’s Word is wrong because it doesn’t line up with what you believe, just stop calling yourself a Christian. It’s like Augustine said some 1,600 years ago, “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe but yourself.”
Scripture tells us that God doesn’t want anyone to perish. (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus died a horrific death on a cross so that nobody has to perish! But you can’t have it both ways. You either follow God on His terms or you follow yourself on yours. I’m not saying it’s easy; we all know the Christian walk is extremely difficult at times. But Jesus never said it would be easy, He said it would be worth it. As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord and never try to sit on His throne. How about you?