Co-Dependency as Bondage to (and participation in) Evil

The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother. (Pro 10:1)

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (Pro 29:15)

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!
(Luk 15:17)

There is a pattern of sin that I have personally experienced or dealt with over the years that is quite common. It is a trap and snare which all of us must be on guard for. And in particular, my experience indicates that it is a snare which commonly catches mothers, sometimes in regard to their daughters but more often in respect to their sons.

Motherly love is a wonderful thing. It is very powerful. It protects, nourishes, grieves for, rejoices with, takes pride in, instructs, and sacrifices for. A mother’s love is a great blessing given by the Lord.

But when that powerful love goes wrong….it ceases to be love and can turn into a prodigal child’s greatest hindrance to repentance. A mother can, if she is drawn into this snare, become her son’s or daughter’s biggest enemy.

Real love seeks the genuine welfare and good of the object loved. Real love therefore includes discipline when required:

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Heb 12:6)

But when this sinful dynamic (often called “co-dependency”) engages, a destructive “I cannot be happy if you are not happy and therefore I must always make you happy” mechanism comes into play. It is a malignant kind of symbiosis with each person feeding off the other one. It is really not about love, but about getting. It is selfish. Let me illustrate:

Mary is 52 years old, married to Jack, and they have a 30 year old son, David. David is a grief to his parents. He is selfish and lazy. David is, you might say, a parasite. A black hole who sucks from everyone who comes near him.

And David is a master at playing his mother for all he can get. Though Mary often loses her temper with David, is disgusted by his sin, Mary just cannot and will not say “no.” Mary sends him money when he calls (which is frequently). David says he lost his latest job, but it wasn’t his fault. If he had a decent car he would have made it to work on time. Besides, everyone at work was against him. David is thinking about suing for wrongful termination. Mary lies awake at night fretting over his situation. Mary, in fact, is more worried about David than David is worried about David!

Jack wishes Mary would stop it. He has told her so, but he knows that if he presses the matter Mary is going to blow up. She will accuse him of not caring. Of not loving. Of not forgiving as a real Christian should.

And David is on drugs and alcohol. It isn’t really his fault, says Mary. Because he was so traumatized when he was younger. The other kids picked on him, she didn’t spend enough time with him, and he eventually just fell in with the wrong crowd. Mary feels very guilty about it all, blaming herself, and spends hours every day trying to make David happier – so she can be happier.

Fundamentally, Mary thinks that the father of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel should have chased after his son, found him in the pig pen, rescued him and brought him home. Or at least wired him some more money when he called. Of course the father in that parable represents God the Father, and the Prodigal represents the sinner who flees from the Lord and goes after the world in sin. Therefore, though she doesn’t really see it, Mary thinks that her method of dealing with David is superior to that of God’s. She just could never let her son wallow in the mire with those pigs.

And yet, it is in that very muck that the Prodigal came to his senses and repented.

My own mother, my maternal grandmother, numbers of people I have known over the years – all of them professing Christians – have been snared by this trap. And I can tell you – no good came from it in any of these cases. I can tell you something else – only one of these cases ever showed any kind of repentance. Marriages were damaged or destroyed. The prodigals never came to their senses. And the “Mary’s” persisted in believing they had done a good thing. To the day they died.

Surely this is a favorite trap of Satan to take souls to hell and to blaspheme the name of Christ.

Sometimes (even often) genuine love walks away, let’s the prodigal go his own way, prays often and intensely, and leaves the outcome to the Lord.

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mar 10:21-22)

 

The Bible Emphasizes “Being” – We Must not be Satisfied with “Doing”

Eph 4:20-24 But that is not the way you learned Christ!– (21) assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, (22) to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (23) and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (24) and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Consistently the New Testament reminds the Christian that he/she is a new creation and therefore is to live consistently as that new creation. Be who you are. That is the Bible’s instruction to us. Realize who you now are and don’t live like the person you used to be. Being, you see. Not just external doing.

The false Pharisaical religion of course was all about doing. Do this. Don’t do that. The heart remains hard and unchanged, desiring evil but man-made religion says “I know that is what you really want down in your heart, but don’t do it. Do this instead, even though you would rather not.”

It is this second false religion that is characterizes most professing Christians today, and that is a main reason they turn out to be dens of evil.  And most churches are satisfied with it. Let me give you an example.

Let’s say a local church decides steps should be taken to prevent pedophiles from molesting the children. That’s a good thing to do. Yes it is. Background checks are required for volunteers in various ministries. Windows are installed in classroom doors. More than one adult is required to be present in a class. Staff is trained in these procedures. All well and good.

The problem is, everyone is satisfied. “There, we have placed constraints in our programs so that molesters cannot harm our children.”

Or, another example. To help ensure that adulteries and fornications don’t flame up among church members, certain rules are put in place. Some formal and written. Some unwritten and informal. A man is never to be along with a woman not his wife. A woman is never to be alone with a man who is not her husband. Husbands and wives are to have full access to one another’s email accounts. Computer software is to be installed that will prevent going online at a porn site. Women are to dress in a certain way. The “six-inch” rule of no touching is taught and enforced among the youth.

And again, the problem is, everyone is satisfied. “There, that should do it.”

But it won’t. In fact, if the power of sin is the law (as Paul told the Corinthians) then these kinds of rules often simply dump gasoline on the fire.

So what is the biblical way of handling such things? Be who you are. This is who the Bible says you now are, Christian. Be that person. Be led by the Spirit. Put to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit. Any other means of “mortifying” the flesh simply feeds the flesh.

This requires, therefore, a congregation of Spirit indwelt people. In other words, a church where the people are actually Christians!! Pretty radical, huh? But that is NOT the case in most local churches. No. Someone is a Christian if they say a prayer and get baptized, either as an infant or adult. No matter really how they are living the days of their lives (none of us are perfect, after all) or whether they show any spiritual growth or not. They are pronounced Christians. But you’ve just got to keep these “christians” in tow – and thus the rules like the ones I mentioned above. John may be an adulterer at heart (well, in his “flesh” as they say) but as long as we make John follow the rules, he won’t adulterize. If he does slip, well, we are a forgiving bunch here, you know.

And the child molester? The rules. Make everyone follow the rules and all will be well – they say. But, let me ask – “just how well is that working for you all?”  Answer: It isn’t. Why? Because your “church” is full of people who aren’t saved at all – they don’t know Christ and He does not know them. They are still slaves to sin and Satan.

And this is why I am always highly suspicious of local churches that seem to grow in numbers so easily. What this most always means is that the unsaved are being pronounced saved, welcomed into the church, and held to a very low standard of holiness in the name of “love and grace and forgiveness.”

The proper course? The biblical one? People who claim to be Christians must evidence they are Christians if they are going to be in the local church. Well, there is one other category that is welcome – those who openly confess they do not know Christ but are seeking Him. NO third category of person is to be in the church!! Have your rules for children’s ministry and so on, but if anyone thinks that the key to Christ-honoring local churches is “be sure everyone follows the rules,” you are grievously mistaken.

1Co 5:11-13  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. (12) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

“But,” you say, “that will mean that local churches will be quite small in number.”

Yep. They will be. They should be. That, in fact, is what you consistently see in Scripture. A body of believers that is called, “the remnant.”

 

How Most Evangelical Churches and Ministries are Selling Indulgences, Just Like Rome

Galatians 1:6-8 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– (7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

My thesis in this article is just as stated in the title: Many if not most evangelical churches, teachers, and counselors are teaching a system that is a false gospel. A system of rules and methods which, it is promised, will “redeem” the soul – both your own soul and the souls of others, even the unrepentant! Let me explain. First, some background.

I am currently re-reading Roland Bainton’s wonderful biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand. Early on, Bainton describes the world Luther grew up in and the “church” he was taught to believe in before Christ opened his eyes. Rome has not changed, by the way nor has she ever repudiated the doctrines taught in the 1500’s. How can she? After all, Rome is infallible, right?

Well, listen to some things Luther was taught:

Luther simply had not the capacity to fulfill the conditions [ie, of the holiness of God]. But if he could not, others might. The Church, while taking an individualistic view of sin, takes a corporate view of goodness. Sins must be accounted for one by one, but goodness can be pooled; and there is something to pool because the saints, the Blessed Virgin, and the Son of God were better than they needed to be for their own salvation. Christ in particular, being both sinless and God, is possessed of an unbounded store. These superfluous merits of the righteous constitute a treasury which is transferable to those whose accounts are in arrears.

The transfer is effected through the Church and, particularly, through the pope, to whom as the successor of St. Peter have been committed the keys to bind and loose. Such a transfer of credit was called an indulgence.

Precisely how much good it would do had not been definitely defined, but the common folk were disposed to believe the most extravagant claims. No one questioned that the pope could draw on the treasury in order to remit penalties for sin imposed by himself on earth. In fact, one would suppose that he could do this by mere fiat without any transfer. The important question was whether or not he could mitigate the pangs of purgatory.

During the decade in which Luther was born a pope had declared that the efficacy of indulgences extended to purgatory for the benefit of the living and the dead alike. In the case of the living there was no assurance of avoiding purgatory entirely because God alone knew the extent of the unexpiated guilt and the consequent length of the sentence, but the Church could tell to the year and the day by how much the term could be reduced, whatever it was. And in the case of those already dead and in purgatory, the sum of whose wickedness was complete and known, an immediate release could be offered.

There were places in which these signal mercies were more accessible than in others. For no theological reason but in the interest of advertising, the Church associated the dispensing of the merits of the saints with visitation upon the relics of the saints. Popes frequently specified precisely how much benefit could be derived from viewing each holy bone. Every relic of the saints in Halle, for example, was endowed by Pope Leo X with an indulgence for the reduction of purgatory by four thousand years. The greatest storehouse for such treasures was Rome. Here in the single crypt of St. Callistus forty popes were buried and 76,000 martyrs. Rome had a piece of Moses’ burning bush and three hundred particles of the Holy Innocents. Rome had the portrait of Christ on the napkin of St. Veronica. Rome had the chains of St. Paul and the scissors with which Emperor Domitian clipped the hair of St. John. The walls of Rome near the Appian gate showed the white spots left by the stones which turned to snowballs when hurled by the mob against St. Peter before his time was come….Another had a coin paid to Judas for betraying our Lord…able to confer an indulgence of 1400 years.

The false Roman gospel, you see. It still stands today. None of these things have ever been pronounced error by Rome.

But the spirit of this same false gospel is alive and well not only in the Vatican, it is thriving in the evangelical churches as well. Indulgences are being announced and sold. How so? Let me show you.

If you could be a fly on the wall in the pastor’s study or counseling room in most evangelical churches today, listening in on what victims of domestic violence are being told (or rather, “commanded”), you would hear over and over again this very scenario:

  • Even if your husband is abusing you, God does not permit you to divorce him
  • If you will become a more “Excellent Wife” [the title of one of the most notorious books promoting this nonsense] then you will be able to redeem your marriage.
  • Read this book that I wrote. It will teach you things that you can do in order to save your husband’s soul, and more importantly, save your marriage. God hates divorce, you know [that’s not in the Bible by the way]

In other words, even though the domestic violence victim is in a hellish purgatory of suffering and perhaps even death, she is a sinner just like her abuser and God has called her to pay for her own sins by humbly accepting this suffering. But there is hope. Through the books and counseling and teaching of this self-proclaimed priesthood, the abuse victim can go on a kind of pilgrimage, visit the fabled relics of saintly women who have suffered before and gone on to their reward. And if she will do all of this, these mini-popes will grant to her an indulgence, pronouncing her justified before God.

As soon as the gold in the coffer rings; the rescued soul to heaven springs

You say that I am exaggerating? I differ with you. These false Christian leaders are setting the price, selling the indulgences, and pronouncing all who drop the coin in by doing their programs to be “redeemed.”  Oh, and for those who will not pay? Off to purgatory with them! Ex-communication! Hand them over to Satan!

These evangelical indulgences are just as worthless as those sold by Rome. Christ alone is our Redeemer. Reject all who tell you that you must “do” and “don’t” to mitigate God’s wrath against you. Jesus really has paid it all. We simply embrace Him by faith alone and His righteousness, full and complete comes to us while our sin, full and complete, goes to Him on the cross to be paid in full once and for all.

Martha Peace. Jim Newheiser. John Piper. Voddie Baucham. Are you people listening? Nope. You will just get angry at what I have said. But then, I didn’t really write this for you anyway.

 

 

My Experience as a Pastor With Evil in its Favorite Nesting Place – The Visible Church

Gal 1:14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

Php 3:4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:

2Co 11:16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.

In the first part of this article, it is going to sound like I am boasting. I assure you that I am not, and so I ask you as did Paul, to bear with me a bit while I talk about myself. It is necessary in order to make my main point, as you will see.

Not far from where we now live is the small town of Monmouth, Oregon where you will find Western Oregon State University. That is the universtiy (college at the time I attended) which my wife and I receive our Bachelor’s degrees from way back in 1973.  I was thinking about those days recently and the realization struck me that in my pre-pastorate life, things went quite well for me. I was a Christian then, but not very strong in the faith yet. Here are some of my experiences from that era:

  • I won the freshman outstanding chemistry student award
  • I was regularly recognized by my science, math, and history professors as their “best student.” regularly posting the highest exam scores of the class
  • Both my wife and I graduated with honors
  • My senior year I was chosen out of a large group of applicants for a deputy sheriff’s position in Benton County, Oregon
  • I attended the Oregon Police Academy (Camp Withycombe as it was known back then) and placed second in the class academically, and I won the shooting trophy for scoring the best target with my .38 revolver
  • Two years later I once again was hired out of a large number of applicants as a deputy sheriff in Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon. I would have the same experience some 8 years later when I was hired as a police officer in Gresham, Oregon, having competed for the position with over 200 applicants.
  • In seminary I won the biblical languages award and was also given the honor of preaching at the graduate class/faculty chapel.

And then, in 1983, I was a police officer on a Friday, and a pastor of my first church on Monday.

Alright then, that’s is the end of the boasting. It was also the end of my advancement in the eyes of man.

What has been my experience these 35 years as a pastor in the local, visible church? Oh sure, there were some tough times as a police officer. I was hated by criminals I arrested, but almost always we enjoyed real comradery with fellow officers. But in the vast majority of my experience in the church, I have found that the enemy sits in the pews. Police officer and comrade on Friday. Hated and targeted by false christians on Monday. The change was that real, and that fast.

We now enjoy a very small church of genuine believers here in Tillamook, but this came only after years and years of attacks from counterfeits who had, as Jude puts it, crept in among us. They professed Christ but they hated His truth and anyone to spoke it to them. And as a result, as a whole over these three plus decades of pastoral ministry, I have been hated. There have been no accolades. No awards. Just hatred from those who claim they serve the same Lord I do.

The Lord has been very faithful to us. He raised up the A Cry for Justice ministry in which He used us to expose evil hiding in the church in the form of domestic abusers. He has continued to circulate the books he impelled me to write and we regularly receive the thanks of abuse victims who have been greatly helped by them. But, I say again, as a whole, the mass of what claims to be the Christian Church has hated me.

When I was a police officer, I apprehended wicked people so they could receive what was coming to them. I loved it. In fact the reason I was hired over all the other applicants at the Gresham Police department was that in my application interview one older, experienced Lieutenant asked me, “Jeff, why do you want to be a police officer?” My answer was, “because I love to throw bad guys in jail.” He stood up and said “THAT is the answer I was looking for!”

I still love to throw bad guys in jail by exposing them whenever I can, and that means exposing hypocrites in local churches parading as Christians among the flock.

But my point is, I received a slap on the back for doing this as a police officer. “Good job nailing that armed robber, Crippen! That was great police work!” We were a team. We backed each other up.

That all ended when I became a pastor. Why? Because local churches are filled with people who are fake christians. Or with people who might be Christians but who have been so brainwashed by false teaching that they have been told that it is unloving to throw bad guys in jail! The former class is far more common however.

What is my point in all this? My point is that this is the very same experience the Apostle Paul had. When he was called by Christ, he left all behind. And what was he greeted with in the church? Well, he met some genuine believers. He had the faithful Timothy and Epaphroditus. There were a handful of other faithful brothers and sisters standing with him. But largely, his experience in the visible church is that wicked people would creep in and before long they would have the whole place turned against him. Peter found it to be the same, as did Jude, and of course as did the Lord Jesus Himself.

And so sometimes I find myself reminiscing about those “good ol’ days” when Jeff was advancing, when people would say “you have a great career ahead of you,” when outstanding performance was recognized and rewarded. Those were the days. And then I have to talk to myself and remind myself that following Christ looks exactly what my experience as a pastor has been. That my reward, my “atta boys” need to come from Christ, not from man. Because if all the world slaps you on the back, flatters you, praises you….well, you had better take a hard look at yourself and see if you know Jesus at all.

O Foolish Evangelicals! Who Has Bewitched You? – The Deceptive Disguises of Legalism Pervasive in the Church Today

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1Co 1:22-25)

Salvation by grace alone through faith alone by Christ alone is the gospel. It is God’s one way of saving fallen man. We are saved by His grace, apart from our own doings, and we are sustained and kept by that grace as well:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Gal 3:1-3)

The thesis I present to you in this article is that the evangelical church today, and for many, many years past, is presenting and practicing Christianity as a legalistic system of self-help. Now, you may say “amen!” to that and fancy that you have the ability to spot a legalistic false gospel. But I suggest that the prevailing plague of “Christ plus _____” is far more deceptively subtle in its forms. So much so that it seems the very air we breathe in most local churches and Christian ministries is fouled by it.

Christ is a stumbling block to the natural man. His way of salvation is foolishness to Mr. Worldly Wiseman. The flesh craves doing. But God’s way is believing that the doing has all been done by Someone other than me. Good news! Grace! Indescribable gift! And yet, surely the Spirit in the believer needs, some help?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I fully confess that justification is entirely the work of God and that sanctification entails something on our part. I am in no way promoting some kind of misguided quietism in which the believer simply “lets go and lets God.” What I am saying is what Paul said:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Php 2:12-13)

What I am saying is that visible Christianity of our day is adding to this formula of God working in me and me working out what he is doing in me. Want to know the secret to the spiritual life? No need to go buy a book by that title. Just look at the two verses above. God is working in you by His Spirit to shape your heart’s desire, your very will, your free will (freed finally in Him) so that you will live and work and do according to His good pleasure. And what I am saying here is that for the most part in the majority of its teaching, standard, normal, typical evangelical Christianity is adding all kinds of trappings to this work of God to the point that most Christians are suffocating in it all. And the counterfeit Christians are using these things to fine tune their disguises even more.  All of this provides fertile soil to evil!

Let me explain by way of example.

Recently I received a catalog from Christian Book Distributors. CBD. They have been around a long time. If it’s trendy, you can bet CBD will be right on top of it – “Everything Christian for Less” – that’s their motto. Bestsellers. Favorite authors. Sunday School curriculum. Holy hardware as I call it. Bibles, study Bibles. Bible studies. Favorites for men and women. Marriage and family. Christian living. You have the bucks, they have the books.

Let’s look for a moment at the Marriage and Family section. (If you have followed the blog A Cry for Justice, you will recognize some of these titles as terrible, terrible books that enable abusers and oppress abuse victims).

  • Sacred Marriage
  • For Men Only
  • For Women Only
  • Parenting
  • The Total Money Makeover
  • Seeking Him: The Joy of Personal Revival
  • 40 Days with Jesus
  • One-minute Inspirations for Women
  • 199 Promises of God
  • The Battle Plan for Prayer
  • The Bait of Satan – how to escape Satan’s grip
  • Praying through Fear
  • Love and Respect (this one is particularly notorious)

And on and on and on and on it goes. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church has his own page so that you too can scarf up all the books and workbooks and DVD’s and finally find the purpose-driven life. CBD, it seems, is not overly concerned with selling books by false teachers. What’s hot right now. That’s the thing.

But here is my main point. I am saying that all of this junk, this stuff, is sheer legalism. It is exactly the same thing that Paul rebuked the Galatians for. Listen to him again:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Gal 3:1-3)

Are we so foolish, having begun by the Spirit, that we now believe we are being perfected by all of these doings and programs? Yes. Apparently we are that foolish. And let me ask you, Christian? How’s that all working out for you? I know the answer to that question even though I don’t know you.

For my part I went through the buying of books and dvd’s and programs phase. I never consciously said “today I am done with it all.” But I am done with it. Years ago I totally lost interest in it all and have more than once gone through my library and thrown volume after volume in the garbage, leaving only the very valuable few resources and increasingly turning my attention to the Word of God itself.

Do you see what I am saying? Christian, if you are indeed a Christian, God is at work in you to shape you increasingly into Christ’s image. He leads, you follow. He directs, and you go. He thinks His thoughts in you and you embrace them as your own. His Law is written on your very heart, and you love it. By His Spirit and through His Word, you have everything you need to live as the new creation you are.

CBD catalog going in the trash can now.

 

Innocent Until Proven Guilty? Really? Excellent Article by Rebecca Davis

Rebecca Davis exposes the misuse of “innocent until proven guilty” ploy that is often laid on victims and witnesses of evil. We see this tactic used over and over again in churches when an evildoer is exposed. Rebecca reminds us of something so obvious that we seem to miss it: that victims of and witnesses to wickedness certainly are not to consider the attacker “innocent until proven guilty.” And yet repeatedly we see churches essentially telling them they must.

Read the article here.

Paul’s Last Words to the Ephesian Elders are About Evil Creeping into the Church

Acts 20:28-31 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (29) I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (30) and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (31) Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.

I am thankful to a good friend for pointing these verses out to me, and the ones which follow in this post. How very different Paul’s words sound in contrast to the typical teaching that pastors and church leaders are being given today.

Whenever we have a record of someone’s “last words,” as we have here, we do well to pay close attention to them. Paul was never going to see these Ephesians again. He had limited time. He had instructed them for three years about many things, but here he distills a final warning down to this very point – Be awake and alert. Fierce wolves are coming and some of them are going to rise up from your own ranks. If you are careless, they will lead the flock away to destruction. 

To some degree, the evangelical church has fought just such a fight in the past century, particularly standing against liberal theology that denies the foundational doctrines of the gospel – the deity of Christ, His resurrection, the inspiration of the Scriptures, and so on. And yet the battle against what I suppose is best called “legalism” has not been fought well at all. Paul warned the Galatians that they had been set free by Christ and must never, ever again be subject to a yoke of slavery. And yet, what are we seeing today? The traditions of men trumping the Word of God so that large segments of the church are enslaved.

Nowhere are these man-made counterfeit “doctrines” more evident than in their approach to the very evil that Paul warns about. We are told (“commanded”) by leading Christian celebrity authors, pastors, conference leaders, movers and shakers in the counseling movement, and others things such as:

  • Anger is always sinful
  • We must be sure that our churches have a “non-judgmental” atmosphere toward everyone
  • Everyone, no matter who they are, is to be welcomed into our churches
  • Regardless of the evil committed by someone, God requires us to forgive them and that forgiveness must include reconciling relationship with them
  • All of us are sinners, all just as bad as anyone else
  • No one is beyond God’s mercy

And on and on we could go. Not one of these teachings is true. None are to be found in Scripture. In fact, what we do find in Scripture is the very opposite of these supposed “bible” truths.

Paul did not lay these things on the Ephesian elders in his “closing statement” to them. What he did tell them was to wise up about evil, to fully expect emissaries of the devil to show up, to not be surprised that some of those diabolical agents were already in position disguised as brethren, and to be ever vigilant in guarding Christ’s flock. You can bet that in those three years of instruction, Paul had described what these wicked types look like, how they operate, and what Christ commands us to do with them. THIS is what he is telling them to remember!

Did they listen? We don’t know. But something we do know – most of the elders and pastors and church leaders today are NOT listening. And as a result the majority of local churches have numbers of these savage wolves sitting in the pews if not actually standing at the pulpit! This means then that another Babylonian Captivity of Christ’s people has happened and that a new exodus is sorely needed away from this bondage. These are dark, dark times when Christ’s light is needed desperately.

Ephesians 4:11-14 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

 

R.C. Sproul Changed His View on Abuse as Grounds for Divorce – but to our knowledge he never publicly announced that change

As you know, R.C. Sproul died December 14th, 2017. Barbara Roberts and myself had interaction with him in 2012 on the subject of abuse and now that he has passed away, we thought it was appropriate and necessary to share with you the details of that interaction with him.

While R.C. privately claimed to have broadened his views, allowing divorce for abuse, he never to our knowledge publicly made that change known. And that was to the detriment of justice and mercy to the oppressed. You can read our article HERE at the A Cry for Justice blog.  It includes a picture of the letter I received from R.C. in which he states that his views on abuse as grounds for divorce had “broadened.”

Why Evil-doers are Enabled and Welcomed in Local Churches

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor 5:1-2)

A very, very common “slogan” found in the “happening” local churches of our day is this: “Imperfect people serving a Perfect God.”  Pretty catchy, right? Feel it tug at your heart and warm your inner fuzzies? Well, those inner fuzzies are more accurately called the flesh. This motto is a perfect example of a biblically imperfect heresy. What? Let me show you why.

We know, if we carefully and regularly read God’s Word, that a typical quality found in the preaching of false teachers (the creeps who creep in among us according to Jude) is sensuality. Read 2 Peter or Jude and you will see it. The way they gather a large following (“many” will fall in with them says Peter) is to do what Paul calls “tickling itching ears.” That is to say, they preach a message which is all cloaked outwardly in “Bible,” but at its core it is worldly wisdom that is totally opposed to Christ’s truth. It is darkness. A shadow casting itself over the blinded eyes of the foolish who crave to hear a message that tingles their flesh. “Ohhhh, yeah, right there, that’s the spot. Feels so goooood.” We are imperfect people serving a perfect God.

The result? Not only are ears tickled and crowds swelled, but most every sort of evil is welcomed to the pews. If you don’t believe that, just talk to Christians who have been the targets of these evil ones. Domestic abusers, sexual abusers, pedophiles, revilers. Talk to the victims about how they were treated when they went to the church leaders for help and blew the whistle on their wicked oppressor. What happened? Almost every single time, what happened? The evil one was protected, excused, “loved and forgiven.” The victim? Chastised and even expelled from the church. Why?

You see the very same thing in the church at Corinth and Paul is taking them on for it in unmistakable terms. “What? Are you kidding me!!?? You have a man sitting in your midst showing off his disgusting and vile sin, defying God, and are you grieved about it? No! You are ARROGANT.”

What did Paul mean?

Here were these Corinthians who claimed to belong to Christ. But they had bought into a message pretty much like our contemporary jingle: We are imperfect people serving a perfect God. That is to say, and here is the heart of the heresy – the grace of God is magnified by our sin. Therefore as we continue to sin, God continues to forgive us and so WE embrace the very same “grace” toward one another. We forgive. No matter what. We are a sanctuary of non-judgmental “love.”  And rooted in all of this jibberish is arrogance. Pride. Go online and check it out for yourself. You will see it on these “church’s” web pages. In their name. In their slogans and preaching. The result of it all is that evil is not only permitted in the lives of the people, it is boasted about in the lingo of twisted “grace.” The only real sin in such places is calling sin, “sin.”

Now, you may be asking yourself “but isn’t it true that Christians in this present life are imperfect? So why is it that the slogan is a heresy? Certainly God is perfect, right? Doesn’t that add up then to the phrase – imperfect people serving an imperfect God?

No.

Do you know what happens when imperfect people stand before the perfectly holy God? They don’t. Dead in their sins they are cast out of His presence forever. God is holy, holy, holy and His eyes are too pure to even look on sin. Only the perfectly holy can be in His presence. The gospel is good news for us because – now hear this – Christians are indeed perfectly holy  people!  Because of Jesus Christ we are perfectly righteous, without guilt, seated in the heavenly places with Him right now! We were sinners. Now we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. That is why the Bible calls us “saints.” Holy ones. The whole thrust of the New Testament is that we must be who we are.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

So the slogan “sinners serving a sinless God” would actually be more in step with what the false teachers really are preaching, but to put it that way is too revealing. Why? Because the Bible does not call Christ’s people “sinners.” So they disguise what they really mean in this flowery language of “imperfection.” Sin is my fault. Imperfection is not. Don’t blame me. It’s how God made me.

And then this brings us down to the real essence of the evil in this ear-tickling heresy. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 2 –

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)

That is to say, “imperfect people serving a perfect God” is a heresy that denies Jesus Christ. It denies His person and His work. It tramples under foot His blood shed for us at the cross. It says, you see, that His sacrifice for sin was unnecessary. After all, if imperfect people can meet the perfect God and thrive, then what is all the fuss? “The cross must have been misinterpreted by “stiff-collared” judgmental types all these centuries,” say the mega-church wannabes.

The glory and power of the cross, of the Son of God given for our sins, is that in him we become perfectly righteous, able to stand on that Day before the blazing glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, see Christ as He is in His ascended glory, and live.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

So the next time you hear “imperfect people serving a perfect God,” don’t be duped by its appeal. See it for what it is – another gospel, another spirit, another Jesus, pronounced anathema by the Lord.