Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Christian Idolatry

Sadly, the Christian church is filled with much idolatry. Professing Christians who have made a god in their own image to suit their own desires. They still call this god "Jesus," but it is not the Jesus of the Bible. How can we tell? Because the Jesus of these professing Christians is perfectly fine with their sins and will "love them no matter what;" something the Bible does not actually teach. You would think that when Jesus says, "Go, and sin no more, so that nothing worse may befall you," He would mean, "Go, and sin no more, so that nothing worse may befall you"; not "Go, and try not to sin more, though nothing will happen to you if you do." Repentance is missing from this picture. Something, sadly, that many professing Christians these days are leaving out of the message. Repentance is treated as if it is optional. These professing Christians are attempting to rationalize and justify their sins, trying to make Jesus an accessory to their sins by making Him not care. This is not the Jesus we read about in the Bible, or the character of the Christian described in the Bible. To see all the things the New Testament has to say about the Christian, please see my Notes on the Epistles.

When professing Christians try to say things like, "God hates the sin but loves the sinner," you can be sure they are attempting to rationalize sins in their own lives. How can we know this? Because this kind of statement is in direct contradiction to what God says about Himself in His Word, the Bible. This cliché is among other nonsensical clichés like, "Cleanliness is next to godliness," and, "God helps those who help themselves." None of these is biblical, let alone even remotely biblically accurate. Psalm 7:11 says, "God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day." He is angry with the wicked every day. Psalm 5:5b says, "You hate all who do iniquity." Some Christians will even use this cliché because it is non-confrontational and non-convicting. However, Scripture says, "And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them" (Ephesians 5:11). Here are some other passages that reveal God's wrath toward the sinner:
But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon. (Ezra 5:12)

For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, "The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him." (Ezra 8:22)

Complete darkness is held in reserve for his treasures, and unfanned fire will devour him; it will consume the survivor in his tent. The heavens will reveal his iniquity, and the earth will rise up against him. The increase of his house will depart; his possessions will flow away in the day of His anger. This is the wicked man's portion from God, even the heritage decreed to him by God. (Job 20:26-28)

For the wicked is reserved for the day of calamity; they will be led forth at the day of fury. (Job 21:30)

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. (Psalm 1:5)

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:6)

Your hand will find out all your enemies; Your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger; the LORD will swallow them up in His wrath, and fire will devour them. Their offspring Thou wilt destroy from the earth, and their descendants from among the sons of men. (Psalm 21:8-10)

Who understands the power of Thine anger, and Thy fury, according to the fear that is due Thee? (Psalm 90:11)

The desire of the righteous is only good, but the expectation of the wicked is wrath. (Proverbs 11:23)

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls. If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner! (Proverbs 11:30-31)

But transgressors and sinners will be crushed together, and those who forsake the LORD shall come to an end. (Isaiah 1:28)

And they will be terrified, pains and anguish will take hold of them; they will writhe like a woman in labor, they will look at one another in astonishment, their faces aflame. Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light. (Isaiah 13:8-10)

Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith; violet and purple are their clothing; they are all the work of skilled men. But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation. Thus you shall say to them, "The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens." (Jeremiah 10:9-11)

The word that came to Jeremiah for all the Jews living in the land of Egypt, those who were living in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and the land of Pathros, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'You yourselves have seen all the calamity that I have brought on Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah; and behold, this day they are in ruins and no one lives in them, because of their wickedness which they committed so as to provoke Me to anger by continuing to burn sacrifices and to serve other gods whom they had not known, neither they, you, nor your fathers. Yet I sent you all My servants the prophets, again and again, saying, "Oh, do not do this abominable thing which I hate." But they did not listen or incline their ears to turn from their wickedness, so as not to burn sacrifices to other gods. Therefore My wrath and My anger were poured out and burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, so they have become a ruin and a desolation as it is this day.'" (Jeremiah 44:1-6)

A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; the LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished... (Nahum 1:2-3)

Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:1-11)

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. (Ephesians 5:5-7)

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. (Colossians 3:5-7)

and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? (1 Peter 4:17-18)

and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (2 Peter 2:5-7)

But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)

"And the nations were enraged, and Thy wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to Thy bond-servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Thy name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:18)

"He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:7-8)
Professing Christians who say things like, "Jesus loves you no matter what," or "There is nothing about you that Jesus has seen, is seeing, or will see in you that can deter him from loving you," are more than likely attempting to justify sin in their own lives and are in danger of hell. They need to be confronted and warned before it is too late. As we saw from the passages above, these statements simply are not true in light of what Scripture actually says. Any professing Christian who refers to obedience as "moralism" or holiness as "legalism" is a bad person, likely attempting to find ways to rationalize and justify sin in their own life that they refuse to confess to and repent of. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

God's love for the sinner is only made available through His Son via repentance and faith! Repentance and faith is not a one-time action. It is a constant, daily action. The evidence we are truly saved and truly children of God will be seen in a daily repentance and daily belief. If we truly committed ourselves to Jesus when we claim to have been saved, the evidence of this will be in the fact that 10, 20, 30 years later we are still repenting and still believing. God's love does not trump His anger or wrath. "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). How did God demonstrate His love toward us? "Christ died for us." What happened while we were still sinners? "Christ died for us." It does not say God loved us in our sin. It says His love "toward"—not "for"—us was displayed in Christ's dying for us. You can be angry with someone and what they have done and still demonstrate love toward them.

The Christian will continue to stumble in sin, but they will not make a pattern of it (1 John 3); they will not jump into sin and swim in it. If a professing Christian continues to sin willfully, then they were never saved in the first place. Read your Bible and pay attention to everything it says about the Christian. Once you have done this, if you are not a genuine child of God, you will attempt to explain it away as "legalism" in order not to be obedient to Jesus' commands: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Jesus made this abundantly clear: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him" (John 14:21), and, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.'" (John 14:23-24). The Apostle John says in 1 John 3:
No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:6-8)
John is saying, "Do not deceive yourselves. If you continue to live in sin, you are not saved." This is obvious because:
No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:9-10)
There are many professing Christians out there who would like to argue with me about these facts, but their argument is not with me—it is with God. Not only do most professing Christians rarely—if ever—read their Bibles, but if they do they do not pay attention to precisely what it says. If they do understand what it says, they deliberately try to explain it away by ignoring it. We are good at those kinds of games. "This passage is convicting me of sin in my life and the reality of my predicament, but rather than believe what it is saying, I will try to explain it away so that I no longer feel conviction about what it says." Make no mistake, you can play all the games you want with your sin, but "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked" (Gal. 6:7), because you will reap what you have sown and you will find yourself in hell for all eternity. You can argue "But I believe in Jesus as my Saviour" all you want, but remember Matthew 7:21-23 and think about the passages that make it very clear that such people will not inherit the kingdom (such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Jesus made it clear that only "he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21) will receive eternal life and inherit the kingdom.

You can shoot the messenger all you want, but it will not change a thing. Attempting to rationalize your sin will not change a thing. You can deceive and fool yourself, but you can never deceive or fool God.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven [will enter]. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Matthew 7:21-23)
Practicing lawlessness is committing sin deliberately, habitually, and willfully. The Bible has made it clear that such people, regardless of their profession of Christ (see above verse again), are in danger of hell because they have never received salvation. They are self-deceived, wanting fire insurance from hell but not wanting to submit themselves to the authority and sovereignty of Christ Jesus. If you are a genuine Christian, you will obey Scripture and conform yourself to what it says a Christian ought to be. Anything less is an indication you are not a genuine Christian and have never received salvation. You are in danger of spending eternity in hell and had better repent before it is too late. The Bible does not give assurance of salvation to those who sin deliberately, habitually, and willfully, or are known to be such, whether publicly or privately.
"These men have set up their idols in their hearts!" Ezekiel 14:3

"Their heart went after their idols!" Ezekiel 20:16

"We are all born idolaters!" —Thomas Watson

"Every one of us is, from his mother's womb, expert in inventing idols. Man's nature, so to speak, is a perpetual idol factory!" —John Calvin

"An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand." —A.W. Tozer

"O wretched idol, Myself!" —Samuel Rutherford

"This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!" Ezekiel 14:6