Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”
Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
1 Timothy 1:3-4, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia–remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.”
1 Timothy 5-11, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”
2 Timothy 4:2-4, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
Jude 1:16-19, “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”
Okay, starting off, I’m going to admit a weakness or a fault of mine that I have been experiencing for several months now. If hearing a teacher or preacher claiming faults or weaknesses is disconcerting to you, then you have my permission to “disengage” right now and go no further.
I have been heartsick! There I said it. A Christian teacher and preacher who admits to being heartsick for several months!!! Unheard of, right? Well, I’d rather be honest and truthful with you upfront, than lead you on into believing I am perfect without a care in the world!
It has nothing to do with my battle with physical pain, though that can be a hindrance, but rather it has to do with something beyond emotional pain, a spiritual pain as it were. Honestly! I am hurting in my spirit, greatly.
Now before you lecture (or scold) me, that I should be praying more, reading the Word more, “giving it all to God” more, etc., etc., let me tell you that those parts of my life, though they can always be improved, have not been the cause of any spiritual deficiency leading to my being “heartsick!”
No, in truth, the only thing that might clear my mind and spirit of this condition would be for me to become a total, dedicated hermit, or for the Lord to come and take me home! I know, I know, both these solutions seem to be incredibly drastic, but my mind has strayed that way for months now.
You see, I try to avoid the news outlets, the world goes on right outside my door. I try to avoid social media so I don’t see what is going on from the perspective of internet commentary and I have to go to the store, or the doctor’s office or any other countless, mundane routines of someone who is retired from public, let alone any other kind of service. I still see the world going by on its merry way as if they have an eternity of time to accomplish their own personal “bucket lists” before they have to depart, leaving behind “their” indelible marks on the remaining world!
I realize that I am speaking in the midst of some great heroic and unselfish deeds coming out of the natural disaster named hurricane “Harvey” hitting the state of Texas, predominantly, but effecting people in the other states adjacent to Texas as well. But, “Harvey” is recent (I am beginning to write this 9-3-2017), and I am looking back several months as my “spiritual” melancholy began to set in.
Riots in our streets, the breakdown of civil obedience, the assassination of our police officers, a backward spiral of race relations, a progressive, liberal media that doesn’t count on the truth to further its journalism endeavors, corruption beyond measure in an outgoing government being taken place by alleged (but not proven) corruption in an incoming new government, further wars and rumors of wars, etc., etc., so on and so forth!! This is just in the WORLD as a whole!
Then take into consideration, seeing corruption and crime firsthand in a small town that shouldn’t even be touched by such things, watching as the police time and again, trying to apprehend a neighbor/neighbors that time after time, demonstrate by their actions that the law doesn’t apply to them. Going to the neighborhood chain store, or grocery store and watch as people plow down the aisles without a look-see before entering the main aisle (I’m pretty much relegated to a wheel chair as my knees don’t support me more than a minute or two) as if they are in some sort of ultra-reality, crash-cart derby! I mean, most stores, grocery or department are laid out just like the lanes and throughways of a city traffic grid; you have your main lanes and then your cross lanes. If people drove out in their cities like they do in the stores, it would solve the population crisis real simply, and quite fast!
Okay, maybe, just maybe you are thinking I’m exaggerating just a little. Maybe I am, and my perspective has just become a little hypersensitive, but this much I will tell you, I have seen mankind in general, locally by people’s actions and on a world-scale by the news I have seen becoming more and more self-occupied and a lot more self-centered. Whether it be spending all their time on their cell phones (whether in traffic or not), or just doing whatever they can to get to their destinations, by whatever means necessary.
This has led me to another aspect of the human-nature condition that I have been a student of most of my life; human nature does not seem to change through the generations or, in fact, the centuries! It truly reminds me of that saying that everyone is familiar with, “those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it!”
The truth of this can be found throughout the Old Testament of the Bible, the Living Word of God. The children of Israel were created to be the heirs and children of God Almighty. All He asked of them was to follow Him in all their ways, His commands and directions. It just seems that at every turn, no matter the many heroic actions and incidents of their history, they also seemed to have an ongoing history of disobedience and willfulness. By the way, willfulness could be construed as self-centeredness as well!
So if you are reading this, tell me, in all of mankind’s history from the very beginning, other than the environment and the circumstances, WHAT HAS CHANGED?
Now I know, you are probably thinking, Pastor Roland, you are very pessimistic! It may appear that way, but in fact, I am very OPTIMISTIC! It’s just that my optimism isn’t in mankind’s ability to correct itself, but rather in the fact that God, our Heavenly Father, through the Redeeming quality of Christ Jesus is the only hope we have for mankind and that in Him AND only in Him will we ever find the “cure” to human-nature!
Then why the melancholy, the “heart-sickness,” you may be asking? The truth of the matter is that it is not just the world that I am witnessing this self-centeredness, but in many of my “peers” and friends in the “religious” arena. I have known for years what the Bible has prophesied and if the truth be told, for some reason, whatever the reason, I didn’t think I would be around to actually see some of what I am seeing take place! I am trying to be very transparent and yet at the same time, kind of put out there in the “blogosphere” a warning call, or an alarm call that all is not right in the organized “church-world!”
You see, we have been given an awesome gift, a roadmap as it were, a foundation for life that has been placed in our little hands for our benefit, individually, as well as corporately, for the betterment of those around us. The truth is, not everyone sees this as a benefit, and some go so far as to believe it is a recipe of “suggestions,” for the creation of a “happy” lifestyle. Some believe that it is a mythology for Utopia, a mystical magical formula that is only for some and not for all.
The Bible isn’t a “book of suggestions” but rather a key, a link, to what is missing in a life separated from its Creator, and the Way to get back that which has been missing. It’s not magic, it’s not mystical, but rather it is SPIRITUAL and it only works when the inner spirit has been reawakened and is sincerely curious as to what more there is to this mystery we call LIFE.
It is the answer to the question, “is this (this natural, physical, existence) all there is to life? In its inspired (inspired by the Holy Spirit) writings we see that this natural existence is only the finite stepping-stone to our REAL Life!
Sadly, we have people, who claim to be “from God” who do some of the very things the writers of the verses I gave at the beginning prophesied would happen. They have become more concerned with what the MAJORITY of people will think about them, than giving, out of a heart and spirit of love, the TRUTH which is only found in the whole Word of God! That, is the definition and demonstration of not love, but self-centeredness!
Jesus told some of the Jews that believed in Him, that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32. But the Jews were confused or unsure and Jesus had to give the explanation to clarify His statement by saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” – John 8:34-36.
Jesus demonstrated His love to those believing in Him and even those confused or unsure, not by skirting the issue of sin, but by explaining the hold living in sin has on mankind, AND by pointing out the fact that the Son is the way to overcome that hold! It would not have done the Jewish converts any good to avoid the issue of sin, for they would not have understood then the hold it had and the NEED they had to be released from it!
But today, it is neither fashionable nor expedient to point out sin, or the hold it has on people and thus the way to escape it, because if the subject DOES surface, it would not be “loving” towards those who are living in it!!
We have “religious” organizations that are literally changing, NOT TRANSLATING, but changing the words of the Bible so that they won’t appear to be so offensive to certain groups of people for fear that those groups might make a public spectacle and cause embarrassment to the “church!” OR, to garner more memberships, (so as to keep their coffers full) or to maintain their power structure within these organizations, they refuse to acknowledge outright sin, using the philosophy that to do so is NOT loving to the people living a lifestyle of sin!
Just to make it clear, I am NOT just speaking about a lifestyle of homosexuality either, though it is the one thing that is in the public eye right now. I am talking about any lifestyle that is actively engaged in sinful activity and is enabled by ignoring it, out of “love” for the person involved. To give you an example, many years ago, we attended a church for a very short time in Arizona, where the Pastor’s son was leading the Praise and Worship service while he (the son) was also having an adulterous relationship with a woman in the church. The Pastor was well aware that his son was living in active, ongoing sin, yet didn’t feel that it had any influence on the Praise and Worship, the very tool that is used to try and garner the manifest presence of the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, into the midst of the congregation!! The son still “loved” the Lord, but he also “loved” another man’s wife as well, so the “Love covered the sin!” —- (“By the way, the woman was separated, but still married to her husband.”)
Do I need you to guess whether the Spirit of the Lord rested upon that congregation or not? Some said it was always a great time of Praise and Worship. He was a very skilled musician, but I have seen the results first-hand of the Holy Spirit washing over an open and transparent congregation and this congregation didn’t exemplify that. The Holy Spirit, the Lord, will not manifest His presence upon a congregation that does not recognize, but rather enables continued, open sin within their congregation! You can have a wonderful time of music, you may experience great emotional exuberance, but the lasting, healing and redemptive quality of the Holy Spirit’s manifestation will not be present while sin reigns in the camp! The emotions die out soon after the service, the touch of the Holy Spirit lasts through many trials and tribulations!
I don’t need to reiterate the Scriptures I gave you in the beginning. If you read them, the Holy Spirit will illuminate the truth of them to you. You truly don’t need me to relay to you what is truth and what is falsehood. If you truly are a child of the Lord’s, you already have the Holy Spirit Whose mission it is to convict (meaning to convince) you of what His Word truly says.
I will end on this though; if you truly want to Love others as Christ Jesus loves, as our Heavenly Father commands, then don’t twist or run and hide from the truth when it needs to be revealed. To do so, is not love, but self-centeredness, because you are fearful of how someone feels or will react to you. If however, you want to truly love, give them the possibility of freedom, give them the Son, the Truth, the Light, the Life and the Way. If we determine to do this, as opportunities present themselves (not forcing it on others) then the love will take care of the sin.
My concern right now, more than anything else in the spiritual realm is that those teaching the Word of God, will teach/preach ALL of the Living Word of God and not just the parts that are pleasing to their role as “minister” etc. My concern is that we don’t become like the shepherds of the Prophet Jeremiah’s teaching and scatter the sheep, or bruise the sheep. The things that the Lord told the Prophet Jeremiah to prophesy about the religious leaders of his day, are repeating themselves in this age in which we are living and the Apostle Jude has told us this is a sign of the last days! All I can say to that is what the Apostle John ended with in the Book of Revelation, “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” – Revelation 22:20.