I have been trying to figure out a nice way to present what the Lord has laid so mightily on my heart, but so far I have not found any possible manner to "sugar coat" what needs to be said by someone somewhere. Most of the time I feel as Lot did in the final days before his beloved city of Sodom was destroyed. As it says in 2 Peter 2:8:
"(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)."
In Lot's lifetime he witnessed his community turn from being a "normal" unbelieving city to the most disgraceful and filthy place on earth. He watched his friends and extended family turn into ruthless animals who only craved sensual pleasures while lumping scorn and ridicule on him and his "old fashioned" ways. Everywhere around him, the sin and iniquity of the society multiplied daily to the point the only thing God could do was destroy the place.
Every day, Lot's righteous soul was tormented by the wickedness he was surrounded by. Every day, Lot probably cried with the pain of seeing the entire city turn away from God to unspeakable evil. God told Abraham He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded with God making "deals" with Him: "If I can find 50 righteous people, then 40, then 30, then 20 and finally 10" Abraham keeps pleading with God in Genesis 18. God told Abraham He would not destroy the towns if he could find 10 righteous people in the two cities.
The sad reality of the situation was that the only righteous people within the two cities were Lot, his wife and two daughters. Just as in the days of Noah, evil had so permeated the society; there was no way to "fix" things. The only option was to destroy the evil along with the people who were beyond hope. Lot's wife, of course did not live through the day of destruction because she "looked back". She could not bring herself to let go of the life, the city and the people she held so near and dear to her heart. Her looking back resulted in her death.
God is a God of extreme patience; but there are times when "enough is enough". When God created man, he was to be for His glory and honor. Since the garden, man has habitually turned his back on God and pursued those things which the senses crave instead of craving the things God desires. God placed man on earth to worship God and for fellowship. Both of these things were destroyed by Adam's transgression in the garden. Just as Adam and Eve's son turned into the first murderer and disgraced them; so God's first "son" Adam disgraced God through his disobedience to God's direct command and forfeited his "family" rights.
Man's heart is inherently evil. Wickedness, treachery, sin and iniquity have been the predominant thoughts of the man since the fall. Guess what? Even though Jesus Christ paid in full for Adam's sin; men's thoughts are still predominantly evil because they refuse to obey the Word of God which is able to straighten people's thoughts out to be in alignment with God. You cannot get "born again" and expect to receive the perfectly renewed mind instantaneously. It does not work that way.
The renewed mind is tough. In fact I would say it is the toughest of all of life's battles. The natural man and the mind of the flesh do not die easily. Surrounded by evil that dwarfs that of Sodom and Gomorrah; the idea of "conforming to the image of His Son" is paramount to World War III in our minds. "No" the old nature screams when confronted with the truth. "I don't want to", the sinful flesh yells when told to "behave". Just as screaming kids at the store throw tantrums when they don't get what they want; so the old nature throws hissy fits each time we seek to change our thinking to line up with what God says.
The devil has so manipulated the systems of this world, there is no way to "fix" them. That is not our purpose in being on this earth. Paul and the first century believers didn't attempt to "fix" the Roman Empire. Peter and the other apostles in Jerusalem did not try to "fix" the Sanhedrin or any of the corrupt Jewish religious leaders. Paul, as a Roman citizen utilized his citizenship rights to appeal to Caesar after his conviction in Jerusalem; but he never ran for office or attempted to get elected as the next Caesar.
My soul is vexed. There is no other way to put it. I hate this world and cannot wait until that great and glorious day we are taken out of this evil place and appear before the Lord Jesus to receive our next "assignment". Why any Christian would "love" this wicked world is beyond me. What is there to love? Is the whole get married, buy a house, raise kids, get wealthy, retire and die really better than seeing the Lord Jesus Christ face to face? You bet it is if you are afraid of seeing Him!
Jesus said "you cannot serve two masters" and that "you cannot serve God and man". Either Jesus told the truth or he lied. Either what he said is attainable or it was a cruel joke played on naïve people to drive them crazy. I understand the temptation to "sell out" to the world is great. I also understand the rewards for "not selling out" are ridicule, scorn, poverty and even martyrdom in this life. But, which reward is greater; the wealth and prestige of this world or God saying upon your entrance to heaven: "This is my beloved son or daughter in whom I am well pleased"?
As much as this world disgusts me, and it literally makes me physically sick at times, what is done by "religious" leaders makes my skin crawl. Just last week, the "religious leaders" in the Sudan whipped the people into a frenzied mob screaming for the death of a teacher who allowed her students to name a teddy bear "Mohammad". Religious leaders are powerful people and their key to power rests in their ability to manipulate and control their subjects. I would not trust any religious leader of any religion as far as I could throw them. They, of all people on earth are a true believer's biggest enemy.
When reading the Old Testament prophetic books, time and again the severe rebuke spoken by the prophets was directly squarely at the "religious leaders" of the time. Leaders are responsible for others; that is the very definition of leadership. When leaders become corrupt, wicked, arrogant and self-serving; they will inevitably use, hurt and oppress the people they were supposed to guide, help, defend and serve. When this happens, hypocrisy has taken over and woes are standing outside the door.
The scandals that have rocked not only the Roman Catholic faith, but almost all major denominations and countless independent ministries all have one common denominator. The only reason these situations progress as they do is because the people allow them to happen. That's right, if the people just said, "enough is enough" and walked away; then the evil would stop spreading. When evil is allowed to fester and grow through fear, it becomes a monster of King Kong proportions.
Nothing hurts God's heart more than seeing His people get hurt by the actions or words of "religious leaders". When people crave power and influence more than wanting to please God and bless His people: WATCH OUT! Big yellow neon signs should be blinking the message: DANGER AHEAD. Egotistical theologians, power and money hungry "ministers" and religious leaders of all sorts and kinds are only looking out for themselves and no one else. These are evil people that need to be avoided not followed. These are the very people Jesus Christ was speaking about in Matthew 23. These are the people that fill God with rage, for they HURT HIS PEOPLE. God cannot stand that.
Time and space do not allow me to fully share the importance of this topic. Please understand that I am not criticizing any person, faith or denomination. I am simply calling attention to a subject that daily makes God miserable and causes Him intense pain. I cannot possibly put into words how deeply God feels about the subject of His so called "leaders, shepherds, rulers, overseers, bishops, deacons, elders, ministers, etc" abusing their authority and hurting His flock. God despises the evil found in the world; but what else can He expect from a group of people that reject Him publically. But, when those who claim to represent Him abuse their power and use their influence to lie, steal, abuse, rape and otherwise pillage His heritage; WOE unto them.
If I am allowed to keep speaking on these matters, I really want to look at some places in the Old Testament that shed bright light on the Matthew 23 discourse. I understand I am walking a very tight line by dealing with these subjects, but I also understand how important these matters are to God and how if His people do not receive instruction on how to spot and avoid "wolves in sheep's clothing", they will continue to be hurt and injured by some of the very people appointed to serve and help them.
I leave you with a section of scripture that is as vital as when written over 2500 years ago by the prophet Ezekiel. From the NIV, please read and ponder Ezekiel 34:1-10:
"The word of the Lord came to me:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: WOE to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?
You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.
You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.
My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:
As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock,
Therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord:
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths and it will no longer be food for them."
If you keep reading you see God's promise to be a "good shepherd" and what it consists of. In John 10:11, Jesus says this about himself:
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
How many religious leaders are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep? That is the mark of a good shepherd and a true "leader" ordained by God and serving God correctly. Who are they protecting and serving; themselves or the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers? Food for thought. Unitl next time; Blessings2 You.
It is a sad state, but God warns us and gives us the wisdom in His Word to use discernment before blindly following a leader. I pray we all stay close to the Lord and follow His Words and His Words say narrow is the way and few find it. I am afraid there are many who led astray, but God is faithful. Thank you for your challenging blogs. Blessings! Andrea
Despite all that we may find abominable in the world, we do need to remember that God created us to have abundant, joyful life in Him.
Remember to seek out those we ARE doing His will and pray for them, as you continue to pray for the repentance of those who abuse their positions.
Yes, we need to be alert and aware, for the enemy wanders about looking for those he would devour.
Yet, we should also remember that God's praises should always be in our mouths and hearts.
Wow! You are absolutely right, there are many things that must be said by someone somewhere. Unfortunately, not enough people are saying them. I applaude you for taking a stand.
You said (wrote) many powerful and thought provoking things, including:
"You cannot get 'born again' and expect to receive the perfectly renewed mind instantaneously. It does not work that way." --Having served in a ministry helping people with drug and alcohol addictions, dependencies and abuses, I have encountered several pastors and many Christians who erroneously believe that all a person needs is to be "saved" and the addictions, habits and lifestyles will immediately change.
"The devil has so manipulated the systems of this world, there is no way to "fix" them. That is not our purpose in being on this earth." --Amen, brother. We should prayerfully seek God about our roles in unifying and strengthening the Church - people, not the buildings.
"Religious leaders are powerful people and their key to power rests in their ability to manipulate and control their subjects." --Well said. I wonder just how many Christians are being manipulated, controlled and decieved but don't even know it. I will prayerfully join in the spirit of what you are saying and ask Father God to open our eyes and hearts to His Spirit and truth so that we, Christians, may not remain in a manipulated state, and that unbelievers will be drawn by the Holy Spirit to receive salvation in these last days.
"Egotistical theologians, power and money hungry "ministers" and religious leaders of all sorts and kinds are only looking out for themselves and no one else." And "The only reason these situations progress as they do is because the people allow them to happen." --Sad, but true. Perhaps if you and other believers of "like-minds" (I certainly am one) pray, fast and intercede on behalf of the Body of Christ, we will experience the move of God in a powerful way.
I am seeking God for connections with other believers who will pray and seek His direction regarding what should be done. Certainly, I believe you should continue to prayerfully walk that very tight line. Be encouraged, there are other believers, of which I am one, who are perplexed by the current state of Christian religious leaders (in general).
May God bless and strengthen you,