Genuine Transparency: 2 Chronicles 29
Spiritual Maturity is When You Don't Mind Being Criticized
Hezekiah looked like he was so sick and tired of the corruption done in the temple by the former regime. So he embarked on a thorough clean up.
Hezekiah did an apostolic role. He instructed the priests about what they should do to purify the temple. If we're to apply this in our time, pastors should get instructions from apostles (kings). Only then can true temple cleansing occur. The first two things he did was to: (1) open the doors of the temple, (2) repair them. These are very vital principles in temple cleansing.
Then the clean-up drive started. The priests were to consecrate themselves first before they can consecrate the temple. "Remove all defilement from the sanctuary," he stressed.
An Open Admission of Temple Defilement: No Cover-Ups
Hezekiah admitted that the temple had "defilement." I don't know if there's any church leader today who'd admit publicly that their church or denomination has "defilement," criticize the erring party, and begin drastic, radical reforms.
Here's another vital principle---for genuine revival to happen in a church, there should be open and honest criticism. I don't know how it all started, but the church has been bombarded with pleadings not to judge anyone or any church. Churches detest open criticism against it and its system and leaders. They implanted in people's minds that criticism is bad. So now, they're all blind to their "defilement" because they just hear what their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim.4.3-4). They want only nice things said about them--"myths" about saying "only good words that encourage and build up." The end result is a cover-up.
If you keep closing your eyes to truth and look only at what's nice and delimit conversation to that, that's an evil cover-up. Hezekiah exposed the evils of the past regime, so did the priests, and so did God! And it was an expose` that was not done in secret--it was done in public. In fact, God put it in the bible for all generations to read and study about. NO COVER UP! God exposed David, Solomon, and the rest in public by writing the account in the bible for all generations to see.
"...(instead of joining others in hiding the ugly truth), rather expose them! It is a shame to talk about it in secret," (Eph.5.11-12).
Hence, God is bringing back the genuine prophetic ministry in full blast these last days---to demolish ugly secrets churches have been hiding under their beautiful carpets. When you try to touch on the subject, denominational Pharisees will at once caution you to "not judge." The devil has been saying that dialogue and the church has been believing the lie too long!
We Must Judge, Criticize, and Condemn
Oh yeah! We must judge, criticize, and condemn! These are spiritual skills the church has lost for centuries because of wrong perceptions about them. The result: a powerless church where sin reigns supreme and takes charge of church. Another result: a gross cover-up where sins and sinners are coddled and pampered, unchecked, and deeply growing roots as a stronghold.
"But I thought Jesus said do not judge," some may ask. Get the whole context--which is never take out the small dirt in your brother's eye if the heap of trash in your own eye is not dealt with and cleansed. After dealing with your own dirt, then you may go clean up your brother's eye. That's the whole story. That's the whole truth. But some denominational churches would only tell you half truths.
You can easily tell if a person receives nothing but half truths---he or she cannot stand criticism, likes only nice things said, and often quotes verses that focus on goodness and blessings. Just look at how they quote these stuffs in blogs or social networks. But no one wants to quote verses on the cross we have to carry daily, the hardships, the pain, the persecutions, the cost, and the wrong things we have to remedy. Paul says we preach Christ crucified---foolishness to the Greeks, stumbling block to the Jews.
Criticizing the Faith Fathers
Listen to what Hezekiah said about their fathers: "Our fathers were unfaithful; they did evil things in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him...Therefore, God's anger has fallen on (us) and we're made an object of dread, horror, and scorn."
Wow! What a statement of judgment, criticism, and condemnation. And that's important--it opens the "doors" of the temple wide open for genuine repairing and cleansing. The reason why churches never get spiritually repaired despite revival meetings is that the doors are kept shut. They think singing and choirs and special numbers and good sound systems and sermons will cause genuine revival. Hezekiah opened the doors to expose the trash and filth that the erring fathers had done, and this for all to see.
Priests Criticized Hezekiah's Father Openly
The priests reported to King Hezekiah: "We have prepared and consecrated all the (sacred) articles that King Ahaz removed in his unfaithfulness while he was king."
Imagine that! They dared criticize Hezekiah's father, Ahaz, right in front of him. And what did Hezekiah say? "Umm, ah, don't judge." No, he didn't say that. The Word says open rebuke is better than hidden love. It was the truth, and it should be exposed. Anything exposed to the light is cleansed.
Touch Not the Lord's Anointed
David earlier told his bodyguards never to harm King Saul because he was the Lord's anointed, despite his many sins. This was because they wanted to take his life. Godly judgment, criticism, and condemnation is not meant to harm but to bring someone to true repentance. Repentance can only be possible when sin is exposed and dealt with.
Cover-up is the handy and artful work of the devil. Those churches good at it will never experience the power and glory of the Lord--except in claims they imagine to have. Many Christians are good at claiming to experience the "presence" and goodness of the Lord in their worship services. However, if your church is covering up for the sins of its fathers, everything you claim is null and void.
Jesus' Criticism Versus a Critical Spirit
Jesus criticized a lot of things and people. He even called them names, like viper, fool, hypocrites, and condemned them with "Woe to you!" He even criticized his own disciples. Just imagine how he called Peter Satan.
But he didn't have a critical spirit. A critical spirit is sourced from jealousy and envy. Jesus' criticism sprang out of love. God's love is his judgment, and his judgment is his love. We must judge, criticize, and condemn in a godly and loving way to help people to repent genuinely. "Are you not to judge those inside the church?....Expel the wicked man from among you," (1 Cor.5.12).
Apply This to the True Temple
Temple principles we find in the Old Testament are NOT to be applied to our church buildings. Don't start a clean-up drive in our church buildings and grounds, or repaint it, or redecorate it, or put in new stuffs. God's not interested in those things. The temple he wants cleansed is the Holy Spirit's temple--our bodies, our lives.
In John 2, Jesus has declared a fresh era of temple reality. He said "Destroy this temple," and he was referring to his body. From that time on, God has been after a destroyed and rebuilt temple where worship should go on unceasingly. "But a body you have prepared..." says Psalms.
People who think of church or temple in terms of a church building have their spirits still aligned with the detractors of Jesus in the gospel. They've been left behind by the Master in spirit.
I and my husband are amazed at how some Christians wonder how we can worship and do ministry without having a church building. They ask us, "Where is your church?" We just smile and look at our bodies. Then they criticize us. Sometimes they say what we do is cultic, evil, and stupid. But we're used to that...it's part of the cross. And any criticism can only do you good.