“It’s like we woke up in Babylon overnight, and no one was prepared,” a pastor said to me, after I expressed concerns about deception creeping into the church.
We find ourselves in the midst of the description of humanity found in 2 Timothy 3:2 -- the last days’ resume of the heart that warrants the pounding of God’s fist.
Can't you hear it?
I've often wondered if the falsehoods that Timothy warns us will "worm their way into homes" is through the internet -- the modern day "tree of knowledge of good and evil". After all, the apple logo was modeled after this motif in Genesis. I know the temptation to want to "be like God". The internet certainly offers us a sense of omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotent.
While the statement about waking up in Babylon is true, it should not come as a surprise. There should be no 'shoulder shrug' or bewilderment. As if it just happened overnight.
The pulpit has sugar-coated the gospel message for so long, that these are the natural effects - a lawless society with no warnings about accountability to a righteous and almighty God. Biblically illiterate Christians who indulge the world instead of come out of it is partly why rotten fruit has been allowed to grow to ripeness. Over and over again in the Bible, we see the tyranny of evil grow when God's people compromise with the culture. When the church mixes with the world, and when our hearts mix with other gods, correction is sure to follow. If we don't heed these messages and repent, correction will come as judgment.
God's law reveals our sin and necessitates the gospel of grace: Jesus' death on the cross as the remission for our sins. Hallelujah. We are saved from condemnation through faith in Jesus, by God's love and grace. But, grace doesn't diminish God's commandments. God's grace forgives us for our sin through Jesus -- and empowers us to rule over it, rather than have it rule us. Jesus was resurrected from the dead! That's power. Glory. We receive that power and authority when we believe on Jesus. The sacrifice of Jesus doesn't only grant us grace to free us from the judgment that our sin deserves. His grace grants us freedom from the bondage of our sin, now. It has the power and intention of freeing us. His love guides us away from what poisons our soul and our relationship with Him and into righteousness and life.
We can look and look and look to the cross that frees us from sin, but if Christ's sacrifice means anything to us at all, then we also surrender to the scalpel of conviction that produces repentance. God's Word brings dramatic transformation, teaching us obedience. Hatred of lawlessness because of God's holiness -- and putting sin to death -- is part of being conformed to Christ's likeness. It's an effect of genuine faith in what Jesus did for us.
But, because of the lack of warning about sin and God's judgment, people are living how they want live. People are tacking Jesus onto their own will, as if the cross is life insurance, and not a call to die. So, man's wisdom sits smugly, festering in the pews like leaven, growing and rising as the fragrance of our worship that we expect to reach the throne room. Worldliness and self-serving makes our worship is a stench in God's nostrils.
Worldliness has rendered the church impotent and has made it vulnerable to deception. We can't hear the voice of the Lord because our ears are so full of our own ideas about God, the church and the world. Christians are in bondage. To fear. To sin. To illness. To Babylon. And soon, to enemy invaders or war, because God operates systematically when he judges a nation.
If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9
We are a nation under judgment for rejecting God's word. (See Rev. 2) But, instead of preaching about judgment and repentance as an act of God's mercy that calls us to Christ for forgiveness now, Christians, pastors, and churches are still trying to appease the world by tending to the secular humanist social justice narrative. Too many are appeasing itching ears.
For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Our current definition of evangelism is sitting people down in bean bag chairs. Why are we not warning people that they are dead in their sins, that death is their reality and hell the future of all who don’t believe in the atoning power of Christ's blood. The gospel is uncomfortable. It's offensive. It got Christ crucified. People will get mad. But, they have to, if people will also get saved. This is real love.
The church is distorted. We have attempted to squeeze the holy temple of God to fit the spineless standard of righteousness set by the world. Come to church or worship and find smoke and mirrors. A pastor-centered show. A feel good ted-talk.
A gospel based on our own worthiness, that Christ should die for us, is off-center. Christ died because we killed him. People need to hear that their sin slay the sinless son of God. Jesus submitted to the cross because loves us, praise God, and we should revel in his perfect love for us. But, it's because he is loving, that we should marvel. It's because he is worthy. Not because we are amazing or "enough". We put him on that cross. You and I killed the son of God. A "you are so lovable that Christ died for you" gospel produces no sense of heart-rending sobriety, but the inflation of pride that keeps God at a distance.
Using the name of Jesus to promote self-centered self-esteem and false peace is hurting the church. The word of God is not a magic incantation or lullaby to make us feel good. It is a sword that cuts us and puts us to death and heals us and makes us new. Conviction is a painful and glorious gift that produces new life through the Holy Spirit.
We are not serving the God of the Bible by sugarcoating the gospel message to make it palpable for people who want to keep sinning as if the cross means nothing.
When we live divided, between God and the world, he eventually takes away our pure desire for him. It's subtle, and so we can begin to think that our work with the world is 'godly ', "having a form of godliness but denying its power" (2 Tim 3). We think we know better than God when we say, "I think we could reach more people if we just didn't say that part about repentance. Or Sin. Or not befriending the world. Or God's righteous judgment. The Book of of Revelation? No way. No one wants to hear that. If we focus on Christ's love and grace, people will come and won't be turned off."
We have been telling people about God's love and grace while neglecting his holiness. His jealousy is for our whole heart. We mistake the love and applause of the world as evidence of righteousness. We think if we are liked then we are a good model of Jesus. What a lie! God says that those who follow him will be hated. Of course the world is affirming of our alignments with its broken and shallow values. This is not success. This is disobedience. When we make the gospel acceptable to the world, we lose it.
We don't realize the destruction that is upon the house of God because of compromise with the world and sin. Triggered hostility over God's commandments about sexuality, gender, and "social" justice is evidence of other gods in the church. A church that is set on making people feel comfortable and avoids talking about controversial issues stands for nothing except a mushy contradiction of tip-toe culture that looks just like the world that it is called to come out and be separate from. It is kindling God's anger.
Instead of allowing people to stumble over the gospel of Jesus Christ, like scripture says, we pad it, so that no one will even stub their toe. We have cleaned up the blood and duck-taped the rock of offense with so many cushions and sequins that Jesus is hardly even recognizable. It reminds me of God's anger with his people, or his bride, for playing the "whore." (God's words: Nahum 3:4, Deut 23:18, Jer 3:6, Is 1:21, Ez. 16:26-28)
Despite our efforts to sugar coat the gospel, the blood of Jesus bleeds through. Yet, we continue to scrub the imposition of the cross with bleach and lye and say to the world, "Come on in!" We should, instead, point to the massacre of God's beloved son and say, "Look what we have done. Look at what Christ has done!" And then give the Holy Spirit room to move and do his purifying work with the effect of our staggering gratitude. Hold the entertainment for some reverent silence and reflection.
When a church teaches a gummy-bear gospel, where the law is minimized by the cross rather than upheld and fulfilled by it, other demonic lies are invited right on in. "We're safe in here!" they say, noting the lack of pillars of the law and traffic cops. They can hide because they know that such preaching will be more like a massage and less like the surgery that produces new life. These devils know that until the people repent of their sin, the Holy Spirit won't bring in his clean-up crew and cast them all away. So, they are safe to squat for now and lead the elect into their doctrines -- false and imbalanced and equally dangerous.
I hate to bring this back to government mandates and social justice woke-ness in the church because the root of sin goes deeper, but it's a useful illustration about how falsehood could make itself so comfortable in the the house of God.
People suggest that not wearing a mask might make others believe that we are sinning by putting the health of others at risk. (According to what the Apostle Paul says about the conscience, Christian liberty and not putting stumbling blocks in front of others.) I've been praying over 1 Cor. 8 since I called this thing's bluff the day it jumped out of the dystopian layer cake in March of 2020, because I want to be wrong. I listen, because I really want to be wrong. It ain't convenient to go against the flow.
When we considered our kids, especially our youngest who began exhibiting signs of germophobia and agoraphobia since this pandemic has lasted through his tender years of 3 to 5, the answer became clearer. We reached a crux where we had to decide what we were going to model for our boys during a time in the world they won't soon forget. So, we get asked to leave stores sometimes, but we get to smile and learn how to respond in both grace and conviction (and good humour). Things that are all too lacking these days. Truth, love and courage are the knights in a sea of fear, I tell my boys in any life situation that I can apply it. The truth is that we are trying to walk these virtues out together, because we believe that it doesn't take many to have a ripple effect. And besides, our kids are our neighbors. First and foremost. We want to demonstrate to them to live not by lies.
Our obedience to the Higher authority -- the God of Truth -- isn't contingent upon the response of others. At least, it shouldn't be. We can't love better than truth. People worry that such freedom may offend or bother others, but if we've learned anything from Christ and the cross, it's that all the best gifts do.
God sends us to minister to those who have ears to hear. We aren't ministering to foolish people. (Please hear that I am borrowing the biblical term, "foolish" which means those who don't want truth and are not willing to have any sort of civil discourse, but rather, just accuse.) God's word says to not to even fellowship with these kinds of accusers. Or should we bow to their irrational and needless fear? Should we cover our faces for them where the glory of God is meant to shine? I don't think so. Let's be wise to the schemes of the enemy, church. Think of our kids.
Paul's commandments about setting aside liberties for the consciences of weaker brothers is no longer viable when it violates the kind of worship that God desires and perpetuates a cultish virtue signal that has nothing to do with godliness, but sin, deception and fear. I'm here to worship God Almighty, how he wants to be worshipped, not placate foolish and demonic displays of righteousness. I can't love Him or anyone else except from this alter of God's grace and obedience.
Some people will say, we should do as Paul said and to a Greek, be a Greek. Even to the point of circumcision, in order to gain the respect of those he was going to minister too. I don't believe that this is the same thing. I've provided data in past posts about the harmful nature of the mandates and of psychological propaganda in recent posts, but common sense and spiritual discernment rules that masks are a symbol of fear, ignorance, tyranny and foolishness -- not safety. How can I, in faith, adopt this symbol of the world's false virtue in order to win the respect of fools? If I am to live not by lies, before my children, the right answer it clear. Satan is all over this, symbolically. We are called to obey the Lord with 'unveiled faces' increasing ever to God's likeness and glory, so that the reflection of our gaze on him can shine for a world in the dark . (2 Cor. 3)
We minister to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear the truth. To people who will have a conversation and inquire about the hope that we have. Anyone finger pointing and judging before even getting to know us or seek understanding is not a person whose going to receive the good news anyway. Jesus didn't bother with these. It doesn't mean he doesn't love them. But if we are caught up on trying to win the approval and respect of fools, then we will never move onto the assignments and people that God has for us -- in the good soil that he has primed to receive the seeds of his word. The bible says this about hard dirt: just shake of the dust from your feet and keep going. (Matt 10)
I don't want to be a troublemaker. Or a finger-pointer. Or dictate what I think the church should do because I could just have a type of conscience. No, it is none of those things (I pray) from which I am speaking out so boldly.
I speak out not to condemn, but out of passion and love for God's word and will for discipleship in a time when people are in real spiritual danger.
I am speaking on behalf of the truth. Because of my love for the greater truth: the gospel that Christ was crucified for. If we sit silently by unbiblical, milk-toast Christianity without ever challenging it, then, well, we end up where we are. In Babylon. Muzzled.
It's right to warn. We are baking bread to the "queen of heaven", like the idolators in Jeremiah 6. And it's not just about mandates. There's woke doctrine too. Being "nice" is a symptom of a malignant problem in what some call Christianity. We think that we are honoring God in our befriending of the world, but in it, we have been put at enmity with God. When we withhold the truth to be nice we are being unkind.The works of our hands are are so full of leaven that God doesn't want our offerings. The nations and the church are under the fist of God's judgement in this current pestilence and tyranny and still, many churches are not preaching the message of repentance to its congregants or the world.
I have heard from the lips of many, even pastors, who roll their eyes and say that they are tired of navigating this divisive time, that they just can't wait for it to be over. These statements break my heart, because I realize that there are few willing men of God on the front lines. If this is the heart posture behind the battle of genocide and tyranny that God raised us exactly for - for this time - then we are not only without carnal weapons, but spiritual ones too.
Proclaiming the doctrine of God's judgment is the other side of the door of his astonishing love. A soft, soggy gospel is bound to grow moldy. Corruption is as much within the house of God as it is without. We shouldn't wake up surprised to find ourselves in Babylon. Not when we didn't fight valiantly against its steady advancement. Not when we retreated into our comfort zones. And into our own idolatries surrounding them.
God has been patiently warning us out of impassioned, aching and jealous love for purity in our hearts. In his bride. All the chaos in the world around us is his hand turning up the megaphone on his message because the dispensation of grace is ending. Yet God's message of repent and believe is being drowned out by frantic efforts to placate everyone and make everyone feel okay about their not-okay-ness, when God says to hate even a garment stained by the flesh, because Christ made all things perfect. (Jude 1:23) He said that he does not despise those who are contrite in heart. (Ps 51:17) Where is contrition in our churches? In our hearts? Should this not be our response to the pestilence that goes before the Lord's judgement? (Habb 3:5)
Instead of offering boldly the everlasting hope of a life totally surrendered to Christ, I hear a different hope offered -- one of this world -- that "things will go back to normal" or that we will have a "new normal" to look forward if we just go along with propaganda or that "truth and reconciliation" and social justice will bring peace on earth. "Build back better" they say, which has a Babylonian ring to it. It's a lie that we just have to snap into line as a cog in the marxist technocracy.
God says, come out of Babylon to advance his Kingdom, because she will fall. Run. But, we can't seem to let go of her because we don't know or trust how much God loves us. He doesn't manifest himself to the disobedient. (John 14:21) And that is why many churches are devoid of the Holy Spirit. Like Lot's wife, are we looking at what we will loose in the world instead of considering everything to be rubbish compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ, in order that we may gain Christ? (Phil 3:8)
Such a life-less, half-baked gospel is probably best left under a mask.
But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” 2 Tim 2:19
Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Rev 2:5
Message On Double-Mindedness and the Return of Jesus:
How Masks Became the Flag of Arrogant Ignorance by Doug Wilson:
Biblically, why we're not to cover our faces. ("They don't own your face you know" by Doug Wilson)
Doug Wilson: An Introduction to Vaccine Passport Defiance:
A Christian Response to Mandatory Cookies: Jeff Durbin
Jeff Durbin Confronts the Woke Church
Nearing the End: Run For Your Life, Carter Conlin