Why Aren’t Pastors and Churches Discerning Evil?

Heb 5:11-14  About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.  (12)  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,  (13)  for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.  (14)  But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

This is one of the most important Scriptures for professing Christians and churches in our day. And yet most are ignorant of what the Lord is telling us here. This ignorance (or downright disgust) of these truths are causing all kinds of suffering to Christ’s people in so-called churches.

At best, most people who claim to be Christians are, as the Apostle says here, children. They of course fancy themselves to be quite the mature saints but the fact is that they cannot handle solid food. They don’t have teeth or the capacity to digest. Infants in diapers.

But that is at best. At worst, and I suspect far more common, is the reality that many if not most of them are not born again at all. God’s Word is therefore foolishness to them. And if that sounds unplausible to you, then just read on into Hebrews 6 because what the Apostle is doing here at the end of chapter 5 is introducing us to the topic of apostacy. 

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The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 7)

Matthew 6:1-8 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

As we continue to examine the religion of the modern Pharisee, let’s remind ourselves that the first place to look for it is within ourselves. It is the religion of sinful flesh, and we all have plenty of that remaining in us.  Pharisaism is form without reality.  It is the motions of religion devoid of the presence of Christ.  And it is heartless.  Don’t expect love or mercy or real kindness from it.

As our Lord warns us here in this second chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, Pharisaical religion is about show. It is about self-glorification, not about the glory of God.  The Pharisee craves to be seen, and he has numbers of ways of getting that attention.  He gives money to the church and makes certain everyone knows about it — or at least those who are in a position to exalt him.  In Jesus’ day trumpets sounded as the hypocrites dropped their money in the box.  How much do you want to bet that the more you gave, the more trumpets sounded!  Pharisees crave praise, and all too often they receive it in their churches.

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The Good Samaritan Story Exposes Most “Christians” as Counterfeits

1Jn 2:27  But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1Jn 3:10  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

These things John wrote about are true of every real Christian. Everyone who is born again, everyone who is in Christ, has been given a new creation nature and now loves God, loves God’s people, and loves God’s Word. No exceptions. No, we aren’t perfect and never will be in this life. But the very essence of who we now are has been radically changed.  This is why Christ said that a good tree bears good fruit and a tree that bears bad fruit is a bad tree to be cut down.

As you can see from the verses above, there is one particular fruit that evidences the new birth. That fruit is love. And specifically love for Christ’s people. Love for one’s neighbor. Where this love is absent, Christ is absent. Understand? The Spirit of Jesus is in us and teaches us to love as He Himself loves us. This is why, as a reminder, it is absolutely impossible for a domestic abuser to be a Christian. The thing is unthinkable. Not even a possibility. When abuse victims come to understand this truth, they have taken a real step toward freedom.

Now, the Good Samaritain:

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The Chameleon Nature of Evil or, “Where’s Waldo?”

2Co 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. (14) And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (15) So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Most of you know that the sin of abuse hides. It hides in plain sight by donning a facade, a disguise, a costume of righteousness. The abuser is a chameleon, changing his outward appearance as necessary to not only blend into the current surroundings, but to even stand out a bit as an eminent example of whatever society (such as a local church) he happens to be in. I think there are some super-hero villain types in recent movies who can change their form at will?

Evil hides in plain sight. It puts on camo paint and blends, so that it looks like the “good” around it. What better vantage point to strike from? You never see it coming. Hidden in disguise it can work its harm for years, picking us off one by one. I think of the rabbits in Watership Down, willing to be domesticated and gain the comforts of it all — though it did seem that some of their neighbors mysteriously kept disappearing. Oh well.

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The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 6)

Matthew 5:17-20, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Let’s remind ourselves once more that the New Pharisaism in our churches is, in my opinion, responsible to a large extent for the sorry treatment that abuse victims are receiving at the hands of their fellow Christians.  That is the reason for this series of articles.

What do we find here in this second mention of the Pharisees in Matthew’s Gospel? Well, the Lord Jesus says that the “righteousness” of this religion is deficient.  It is not a righteousness that can bring a single person into the kingdom of heaven.  You can’t be saved by it.  And that means that anyone who is an adherent of this religion has embraced a false gospel and cannot be saved in it.  That is not to say that genuine Christians cannot be affected and mislead by it.  I am sure this happens more than we would like to think.

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Patriarchy is Easy – For Everyone but the Victim

Eph 5:22  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Patriarchy has great appeal. It appeals to pastors, to many men and women who profess to be Christians, to counselors and others. Obviously it does have this appeal because so many churches embrace it.

Patriarchy is the teaching/philosophy that men are superior to women by nature. That God has created men and women with the intent that men are to rule over women. Men are in charge. In marriages. In local churches. And if you are a theonomist type, in government and society. It necessarily needs to be so because women are inferior to men in their very essence. More prone to temptation. Weaker. And with an evil bent of being a Jezebel to tempt righteous men to sin. Women are constructed to bear children, be mothers, workers at home, and for the most part leave the real stuff to their hubby.

Now, as in most any kind of false teaching, there are elements of truth in all this, right? Men and women ARE different. Women, generally speaking, are smaller and physically weaker than men. Women are the mothers of our children. And, like men, women are born into this world as sinners. Many erroneous false teachings we see today try to get around all these things by insisting that men and women really are not different at all. Yeah, right.

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Where Should we Expect to Find the Enemy?

Jude 1:4  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

As a Christian, where has the major portion of suffering and persecution come at you? What has been its most typical source? We are usually taught that we should be looking for attacks from the world, and certainly that is one common base of the enemy. The world, the flesh, and the devil, you know.

But I want to show you from my own experience and from Scripture that the most typical locale for the enemies of Christ to attack from is not “out there.” Rather, it is within the walls of the visible, local church.

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