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Churches and Christians
Satan uses the world in three ways to deceive the child of God. That is why John the Apostle warns us in his First Epistle: ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’ 1 John 2:15. Again, regarding false teachers, John says: ‘They are of the world; therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them.’ 1 John 4:5. And then comes the decisive and categorical statement in 1 John 5:19: ‘We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the wicked one.’ (Or ‘in the power, or under the sway, of the wicked one’.)
The first way that Satan adopts through the world is
Imitation. Hence, in these last days, we
find any increasing number of antichrists and false prophets. We have an
imitation church, a harlot actually. And the mother of all harlot churches is
the Roman Catholic Church, though in these days the Charismatic Church is not far behind. We have an imitation cross [worn round the neck or
placed on a steeple], instead of the cross working in our heart and lives. We
have worldly churches, worldly believers – and these are none other than traditional
churches and traditional believers, whose spiritual declension is so terrible
that instead of calling them dead churches and dead believers, the more polite
term ‘worldly’ is adopted. And the tragedy of tragedies is we have an imitation 'Spirit'. Certainly not the Holy Spirit, but an evil spirit which makes so-called christians roll on the ground and behave like beasts.
Tradition will not save a man; only a born-again experience will. (That is, being born of the Holy Spirit through the power of the precious Blood of Jesus sprinkled upon a heart that believes in the Finished Work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.) The world will listen to false prophets, 1 John 4.5; and they will be very popular because of their eloquent preaching, miracles and wonders! I believe this is the group that vainly protested, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Matt 7.22. Imitation will not work; God does not look at the outward appearance, He looks at the heart.
Is your heart right with God? Have you ever been convicted of your sins? Have you been washed in the Blood of Jesus? Do you have the assurance of forgiveness? Can you say that you have received eternal life? That Jesus Christ lives in your through the indwelling Holy Spirit? That you have the blessed hope of resurrection and fear death no more?
The second method is Compromise. The world will protest if you go all the way
with Christ. Though Pilgrim's Progress is the most popular book after the
Bible, it is mostly read by children in an abridged edition, when in fact it
should be read and studied by all adults and especially those who profess to
follow Christ. But the world, enraptured by Harry Potter, would prefer
C.S.Lewis' semi-Christian Narnia books rather than the staid, old-fashioned and
sturdy classic of John Bunyan. It is not strange that the world hates 'Puritans' and maligns those who seek holiness. The carnal mind is always hostile to God; it hates obedience. It professes faith, without the living testimony of a humble and God-fearing life.
The false message popular today with the seeker-friendly fun-loving evangelical crowd is that you can enjoy the best of both worlds, as proved by the roaring success of Korean and American T.V. evangelists. They say it's not wrong to live a luxurious life; God wants you to have possessions. Look at the life-styles of most charismatic preachers. That is the deception of 'worldly faith' [or 'Word of Faith'!]
The majority of
Christians seem to be living in Moab.
They are the modern version of Lot's infamous grandchildren, Moab and Ammon.
They would love to settle down in Sodom, enjoying the dregs of a pleasure-loving, materialistic world.
Paul, on the other hand, says, ‘We are the scum of the world’, 1 Cor 4.13; he says, 'We are fools for Christ!'. But a false 'popular evangelical Christianity' is the cocktail the masses enjoy. When you look at the way people dress, the complete lack of reverence in the pulpit, the shedding of all inhibitions in the pew, the absolute ignorance of the word of God, the total absence of prayer, the carnal music and entertainment - is it a wonder that the popular churches are no better than 'christian' clubs or circuses, where people gather to have a good time. Both Schuller's
church in Dallas and Paul Yonggi Cho's church in
bursting with numbers! The new word is 'mega-churches'. Where is the 'little flock' that Christ spoke of?
But the third method is more sinister; Gravitational Attraction. As the earth has its gravity or downward pull, so the world weighs us down with cares and worries. We are so beset by anxieties over food, clothing, career, children, earthly security - that we simply don't look up to heaven. The seed and plant of faith is choked by thorns. Like Jacob we settle down in Shechem (Gen 33), bringing tragedy to our family and children, Gen 34. Even as we begin our spiritual journey, Satan throws many attractions and distractions [like mine-fields] in our way. Israel was protected from the curse of Balaam, but sadly fell through the enticements of the women of Moab.
The remedy for the 'earth pull' is first to have the cross do its deep work regarding the world and the flesh. Paul says so in Galations 6:14 and 5:24. Unless the cross has emptied you of all interest in the world, you will not be attracted by heaven. Neither will you have any idea or experience of what is spoken of as an 'open heaven'. We are reminded of Paul's warning in Phil 3:18: 'Many walk as enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.'
God takes the believer through many trials and testings, and after each trial you are brought on to a higher spiritual ground. That is how you experience what is called 'spiritual ascendancy'. After years of such discipline through trials and sufferings, you are no longer attracted by the world - and all its siren charms have no effect on you. You have broken through. You are now bound for heaven.
No wonder, John, the most spiritual writer in the Bible, walking wholly according to the Spirit, warns us of the world and its invidious attractions. For the sake of momentary pleasure, temporal satisfaction and carnal bliss, should we sacrifice all that we gained through our initial conversion? None of us would like to lose our heavenly protection or the heavenly blessings. But alas, Satan has blinded our eyes to the reality of heaven. For a Christian, the fact is that heaven is more real than earth. We are a heavenly people, walking as strangers and pilgrims on earth. Should we not be careful, instead of being snared by the Vanity Fair of 21st century religious mockery going on around us?
Let us take the warnings in the word of God very seriously. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, Heb 10:31.