I have now been a Christian for 25 years, and like so many of you, I've seen things I never suspected could possibly be. The 'visible' Church, I have learned, has become an essentially state registered Church, where Jesus is mentioned often as LORD, but not CEO. With the Lord and Savior being relegated to second position or lower as head of the Church, I cannot truly endorse according to the Word of God, that the modern American 5013c non-profit status corporation with trademarked signs out front is even remotely the church Jesus Christ died to save. I am not attacking the true church, in fact far from it: the true church though, alive somewhere in, around, and outside the modern corporate churches is being suffocated by the ways of the world. Admonishments to 'love not the world' are met with cold stares as though one is trying to run one's life or tell them what to do, and too many regard that command to be an unloving legalism, but it is the admonishment to walk in the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Christ. A passage I read the other day in one of Paul's epistles said,
Gal 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Walking in the Spirit requires some discipline and I do not write this as 'finger pointing' without three pointing back, having just watched a movie instead of studying my Bible in quiet, but the rebuke is there: I have two choices: I can turn away from my 'lazy' carnal habits, or I can find an excuse for them. It is that second path, that modern Christians are using almost exclusively, and it is destroying churches and the 'faith once delivered'. When we do wrong, we need to repent and turn from it, pray for help and victory in it, or ask others for counsel and prayer, but before all, we need to learn not to make excuses.
There are a few fairly common excuses that are used for everything from minor peccadilloes all the way to the deadly 7. (All sin 'counts', save for the blood of Christ). A few are included here, and we need to lovingly but firmly say 'no more' to some of these verbal excuses we think so little of using, and yet are doorways into serious damage of some lives and faith. Consider the following:
1.The Lord hath need of it..... This passage comes from the time of preparation for the Passover dinner at which the Messiah breaks bread and offers his body and blood for atonement. The disciples are asked to go to a certain field where a foal is tied up, untie it, and if the owner questions say 'the Lord hath need of it':
Luk 19:31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose [him]? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.
This one verse has accounted for more 'christianized' stealing than any other. To begin with, it was the Lord, the creator of the animal, who was merely requistioning his property which he already owned, from the 'earthly' owner, his caretaker. Under the rarest of circumstances, it is not impossible that the Holy Spirit would not direct such an action today, but I have seen even computer equipment walk out of offices, and cars stolen and joy-ridden using that verse by severely twisting its intent to commit a crime. Did God direct you to steal those office supplies? Or notes? God is the author of donkeys, but is also NOT the author of confusion. Confront this one---it is not o.k. to steal from anyone, much less another Christian, but it instead causes trial, trouble and heartache in the church which leads to serious division.
2.David and Solomon both had many wives
Well, folks, David and Solomon lived in ancient Israel,and their multiple wives and concubines led to multiple problems and partially even the division later in the Kingdom. The excuse "David and Solomon had many wives" is used by preachers and other church folk being seduced or seducing into sexual sin and adultery, by trying to justify the clearly sinful act as merely some common human need that everyone participates in! Even today, even among the unsaved, not all marriages succumb to adultery. Of marriages that go the distance, only a lesser percentage are troubled by former 'flings'. How about, "you are not David or Solomon". Multiple wives back then among Kings was still against God's Law. For the better part of the '1000s', they were political marriages solidifying alliances with other Kingdoms, and many of those other kingdoms were idolatrous. It was a form of not trusting God enough to obey his law, but trusting convention and human 'reasoning', political reasoning to assure allies against e.g. Babylon or Assyria. Solomon's many alliances and wives from them, produced a reintroduction of worship of false gods:
1Ki 11:4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, [that] his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as [was] the heart of David his father.
No adultery goes unnoticed, no adultery goes uncovered at least to some extent, and no adultery is painless and without consequences, often affecting wives, children, finances, households and careers. It certainly affects faith, and quenches the Holy Spirit. Do not let that reasoning prosper.
We have to find a better person to represent your work.
This one is a little dear to my heart, because I have found it used by church people whom we met sometimes 10,15, and 20 years ago, who think every Bible Study I write or publish on the net or in another form, is somehow free for their pocketbooks, and that they are somehow 'better' because they:
1. Weigh less
2. Smell Better
3. Dress better
4. Have more money
5. Go to a _______________Church (fill in the blank)
6. Have different doctrine
7. Are infinitely less 'peculiar'.
We are, dear friends, a peculiar people and we are all a little odd, are we not, especially under the worst of circumstances. We are still tied though to the law of the land and we are called to be good stewards of our work. I have heard repeated , "she just doesn't know how much her work is worth, and I do"....this statement would be funny if people did not use it as an excuse to plagiarize or steal. Charles Spurgeon, D.L.Moody, and a few others were hefty folk, but it did not require their replacement. The Christian sense of smell is among the finest in the world: many in church smell everything, and have very high standards, so that no one meets them, on any given day, save for themselves. That suggestion is an age old degradation, and still does not affect opportunity or authorship. Dress better? Well, perhaps one does dress more expensively and better, but again, it bears no effect on who owns or governs a work: Jeremiah, the prophet was once instructed to hide a loin cloth in the dirt and then put it on for God's illustration in a prophetic utterance: imagine how a few Baptist ladies would have handled that! Isaiah once walked naked through the desert....but enough. The issue of clothing, smell, looks, weight, age or height are such peripherals to the work of God, that they should not be considered. This is not broadcast news. Most Christians if they have the ability to afford it, groom themselves acceptably, and cleanliness within reasonable limits is in all but a few cases well within bounds. Some may have only one pair of often repaired jeans: would that preclude them from singing with a beautiful and anointed voice? Should your best preacher be seldom called on because he wears the same suit when he preaches? Maybe his 'suit money' went to feed the poor or help a widow. Does he preach less well than the shouter on TV with the rolex and somebody else's sermon notes? Of course not. We lose the power of God in our worship, lives and services, because we keep making lesser human choices based upon personal preference, instead of considering what God wants, or what may grieve the Holy Spirit. Some poorer folks may actually tithe more quietly than the well to do, who do not tithe at all, but consider a church blessed to have them.
When God makes a choice, by gifting someone with a talent or ability, and then via the Spirit points that person out to the Church for service, those personal opinions need to be laid aside. The notion that money and grooming have to do with whom God selects and anoints is ludicrous. Right up to the end, as far as I remember, most prophets (except the Kings perhaps) had dirty feet. John ate locusts and honey and lived in the wilderness. He prepared the way of the LORD.
This does not conversely mean that just because someone is poor and downtrodden that they should be used for an appointment either: the issues is OBEDIENCE. We err in the opposite direction far too often, but the plumbline, is whether or not the choice is of the LORD. While opinion differs regarding the choosing of the last apostle to replace Judas, scripture notes that the other apostles pray and then cast lots, and they fall on Malchus
Act 1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
but it could be argued that they did not wait long enough, and that Paul was to be considered the selection of the Holy Spirit as the 12th apostle, since Matthias, although of 'good report' is not mentioned again in the Book of Acts after the selection. At the time, Paul was still Saul of Tarsus and had not only not encountered the Lord, but was imprisoning believers. Likewise, [MY DAUGHTER SARAH SAW THIS FIRST] when the apostles were confronted by the Greeks who claimed their widows were being left out of the 'daily ministration' they appointed two to attend to their needs, because in their words:
Act 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples [unto them], and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
It probably was best that those who had been with the Messiah continued teaching, but it is noteworthy that Stephen, who agreed to waiting tables, ended up giving a sermon as he was being stoned that lasted 2000 years, and led to the appointment of the apostle Paul, standing at the stoning watching the coats.
Further, no one from any doctrinal position, has the write to rewrite someone else's doctrine to their liking. We are all sure we are right. I am not nor will ever be a doctrinal relativist, holding to the firm line of the scriptures as final authority, but when I hear as I did the other day a great sermon Billy Graham preached back in the late 50s, and wanted to add a few more points, it is simply NOT my right, and if I did, it would cause division and heartache. J. Vernon McGee tells of an incident such as this when he attended a young preacher's sermon only to find out he was preaching one of McGee's better known sermons! While he did think it was well written, it ruffled some feathers, and would have come to blows with a lesser person. We do not all have the same calling, and until we find our calling and gift, and have hands layed upon us for the knowledge and appointment/anointing of it, we will be walking afoul of the Holy Spirit. Some people spend their whole Christian lives wanting to Preach, or write, or sing, but it is not their calling. Not their gift. Spiritual gift inventories are malarkey! If one is uncertain, someone with the gift of prophecy , or a word of knowledge may be able to help, and often other Christians can see a gifting in us which we cannot see ourselves, while we run after things we think we would like to do, but are not appointed to.
4. Bodily Exercise Profiteth Little
Now, for those of us in our 50s who have a little extra girth than when younger, we may like to quote Paul's words "bodily exercise profiteth little" or "those who trust in the Lord shall be made fat", but the truth is, we are given a body described as a temple, and many of us neglect the care of it till we get older. Jokes about it do the same as the other excuses: it seriously diminishes the likelihood we will be obedient in that area. Paul was right: bodily exercise does indeed profit little in the realm of the Spirit, or with regard to eternal life, so no scripture is in any way in error, but we can't pull it out of context.
1Ti 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Paul never suggested that overweight people never go on a diet to combat gluttony, or that we should all become sedentary couch potatoes. In another passage, he makes the point that the body is a temple of the indwelling Holy Spirit:
1Cr 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
We are appointed caretakers and are accountable for what God has given us.
5. We are a Peculiar People
This verse is a real scripture verse, referring to the called of God being sanctified and separated from the world:
1Pe 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Being a 'peculiar people' means being set apart. The word peculiar in the above in Greek is περιποίησις, and refers to ownership and setting apart, and a corollary use in Titus is
περιούσιος- very similar which has the connotation of a called out people. It does not mean that we have an excuse to act unnecessarily odd or weird. Real Christians have no trouble around the world being seen as 'peculiar'---most do not drink, smoke, or participate in other activities so freely appreciated by the world, and even those peripheral marks separate them out of hand from others. They may speak in tongues, or pray and study the Bible often, causing them to be seen as strange and overly religious, even for what we are commanded to do by the Word. A lot of persons use this scripture lightly with a sense of humor to excuse 'goofy' behavior (I've done it too), but when we do, we lighten our respect for the Word, and if we are not careful, we can grieve the Holy Spirit. I laugh at some Christian comedy one can view on Youtube.com but the truth is, some of it is well over the line of disrespecting God's house and Word. We don't have to fall into legalism, but on the other hand, we are not on earth for entertainment, but for the telling of the Everlasting Gospel which heals for ever.
These are just a few misquotes or misuses of excuses we use to disobey God, and quench the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. What's more important? God doing a work through us, or us 'fitting in'? Or experiencing a carnal satisfaction? As one surrenders, God goes to work. Does the world so cloud your eyes, or your own wants and desires, that we would rather have the momentary 'turkish taffy' (apologies to Narnia) than see God use us in great ways? The power to overcome the temptations and excuses is not our own: it comes from the LORD. Better to do away with 'Twisted excuses' and obey the Lord and Savior, learning surrender, instead of how to live in the Lord without ever surrendering the World. ekbest