DELIBERATELY PURSUING GOD
TRADING DIAMONDS FOR GLASS
Anyone that has read the writings of the Christian reformers and the pioneers of the faith realize there is an identical theme that runs in their ministries; a hearts cry of loyalty, purity and commitment to Christ and His church. The fearlessness and sacrifice of these disciples are more than just tales of courage but are examples for us to learn what a real Christian should be. They practiced what they preached by choosing to grit their teeth with suffering persecution and resisting temptations no matter the cost. They all stood for purity and were aware of the reverential fear of God’s holiness and gave their lives trying to teach others about these revelations. Their obedience to God’s word and determination to stand against sin brought stability to the church by being a true witness to the world and proclaiming that God’s people were sanctified for God’s glory.
Of course sin has always been a huge problem in the church and the leaders had to constantly deal with the effects of corruption. We must praise God for their determination to not compromise because if they had relaxed and allowed the leaven to mix with God’s word, the church would have suffered more shame and embarrassment than it did. Sadly to say the church of today is facing it’s most challenging hour and in many places has turned away from the Holy Spirits fire of truth which has left many assemblies cold and lifeless. Pastors are feeling the pressure to compromise with sin because so many in the congregations live like the world and act like the world and do not want to hear correction. Pastors are becoming more afraid to speak out against the passions, lifestyles and attitudes of carnality. What does all this have to do with worship? Allowing the unrepentant mind set of sin to boldly come into God’s church and accepting it as a seeker sensitive religious idea is quenching the glory and power of God’s presence.
The Lord will not bless a religious game and He knows when His churches are filled with hypocrisy and deception. The sobering fact is that much of what is being offered as worship is unacceptable to Him because without the infusion of the Holy Spirit there can be no true worship. He will not mingle or pour out His glory with perversion and hard hearted people that believe they can live their own lives of daily pre-meditated sin. Worshipping “in Spirit and truth” is not just a clever saying but rather a solemn demand concerning spiritual reality. Jesus rebuked the religious world because they were putting their trust in a legal ceremony as they thought that going to church somehow could keep them in God’s favor. No one can embrace sin and allow their mind and heart to be filled with the darkness of the world and still seriously consider their soul to be secure.
Those who practice sin and participate in church with a confidence that everything is alright are blind, hard hearted and dangerously deceived. Why is it so important to lead and minister worship in the sensitivity and holiness of reverential fear? Because the Lord will only manifest His glory where there is brokenness, repentance, holiness, humility and the sincere desire to be transformed into the character of Christ. Psalm 34:18 reminds us, “The Lord is near unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit.” (The word contrite means repentant, sorrowful or sorry for sin, to confess sin, a sincere sense of guilt and the realization of the need to be restored and healed). When the congregation can come in laughing and talking about how much they enjoy dirty movies, music, television shows or other worldly distractions we have lost the respect and reverence of God’s presence. If we feel no difference between Gods house of prayer and going to the grocery something is very wrong. Either reverential fear is not being taught or a terrorist called “compromise” has put on a disguise and has sneaked in through the back door.
Where are the called full gospel preachers that are God’s fearless mouthpieces? Where are the warriors that give themselves to prayer and fasting so the power of God’s word can come forth with such anointing that all who listen are stirred and convicted by the Holy Spirit? Where are the sermons that reveal God’s anger against sin and the consequences for not yielding our will? The church should be so saturated with prayer from those who walk humbly before God that everyone who steps in the sanctuary are either broken in tears of conviction or shouting with joy. Let us not mold our religious traditions (as much as we believe they are right) into an idol that we put more faith in than God Himself. Let us not become so comfortable with our programs and styles that we put all of our expectation, excitement and confidence in them instead of the still small voice of God. We are not to be “seeker sensitive” in that we completely change the clarity of the gospel for the sake of worldly success. We are not to change the way God wants to lead His church just because we want to draw more people into our church. We should not be trying to make the sinner more comfortable in our sanctuaries but should be falling on our faces crying out in repentance for the mercy of God. Let us not be giving the impression that God does not care how we act which in turn gives the unlearned a false sense of security. If the unsaved is relaxed in our churches we will be held responsible for investing our life into a religious ceremony just like the Pharisees whom Jesus accused of being delusional.
It is no secret that children of God should not have attitudes and philosophies like the world but not much is said anymore about how they are not to “look” like the world. People will say, now brother, God looks on the heart and He does not care what the outside looks like. Well, if He is not concerned with how we present ourselves to others then why did Paul in first Timothy talk about modest apparel? I will tell you why: because modesty brings humility and reduces the urge to reveal the pride and glory of the flesh. Allow me to say this; it is true that our body is the shell (or temple – structure) that provides housing for our spirit but we are not trying to attract all the attention to the exterior. Actually we are to lose the prideful identity of our old nature so that Christ can be more easily seen in us. God’s idea is the less of me there is to see – the more people can notice the love and character of Jesus. The opposite would be to see how much flesh we can show with being provocative and sensual. Things we did to our bodies before we were saved are forgiven just like our other sinful habits and practices but after we are saved we are a new creature with a new pure way of thinking.
Tolerance is flooding into the Christian world and I can clearly see how sanctification is giving way to rebellion. I know that people do not like to be corrected or even counseled about their personal life but what about the next generation being heavily influenced by what they are seeing and how the church world is living? God’s word is stern and is being avoided because it is perceived as outdated and too conservative. People want the freedom to live the way they want and they desire to hear about the blessings and benefits of unlimited provision – just don’t mess with their life! Those who are excessive with trying to capture everyone’s attention with the beauty of their body and an “all about me” personality are (as chapter 4:1-2 describes) being led by the imaginations of their carnality. “Now in Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” I have come to the conclusion that people who “remodel” their body and reveal as much of it as they can, desire for everyone to “glory” in their flesh. Whether noticeable body art, piercings, bizarre hair styles, clothing, make-up or any physical modification, the reason is always the same; it is the craving for attention. It does not take a bible scholar to see this is completely carnal and is as far as the east is from the west from spiritual humility and sanctification.
Body builders love to get on stage and pose for the world to see the glory of their hard work. Adult dancers, models, movie stars and rock stars love to absorb the attention from the world and devote their life for others to see their glory. We must resist the temptations that try to lure us into pride because God will not associate with those who love vanity. His word is very loving toward our spirit but also very strict against our flesh as we read in James 4:4-8. “You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do you think the scripture says in vain, The Spirit that dwells in us follows our desires to the point of envy to envy? But he gives more grace, as he said God does resist the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double minded.” (This was directed to the born again church members).
When I was young I grew my hair long, had an earring, wore clothes that caused people to stare and drove a very flashy car for one reason; I wanted everyone to notice me. I wanted attention and loved the feeling of shocking people and making them take notice. I am not proud of the way I acted in fact I am now embarrassed to think of how I used to be but it reminds me of our corrupt human nature. I’m sure we all like to be noticed but we should keep a careful check on the reasons why we desire attention and talk with the Lord about not only how we should act but how we should look. It should be our highest priority to reflect on the outside what is happening on the inside. Newscasters are clean cut and dressed modestly because their appearance produces the respect and trust they need for people to listen and take their words seriously. Selah.