Book: Lord, What Should I Do?

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With the ongoing failure of the corporate church to meet the spiritual needs of churchgoers—and as churches increasingly misrepresent Christ and the Bible—it is time for those who love the truth to choose whom they will serve. Jesus gave us this profound insight: “No one is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).

Are you serving two masters? Do you continue to listen to ministers and church leaders who have departed from the truth? You cannot serve God in spirit and in truth if you are following those who are teaching false, watered-down doctrines, religious myths, or cannot seem to move beyond mere pablum.

God has called us out of the darkness of this world into the glorious light of His truth. We are not to be conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). This transformation is at the heart of the Christian calling, and cannot take place without solid, biblical teaching!

Those who love the world and conform to its practices—and love the “smooth things” taught by the typical Protestant pastor—cannot love God and do His will. The ways of this world are contrary to God (Rom. 8:7). God’s Word commands us: “Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Because everything that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pretentious pride of physical life—is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world and its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17).

But too many “Christians” do love this world. According to extensive research conducted over several years by the Barna Group, American Christianity is viewed as largely hypocritical. Why? As explained by David Kinnaman in his book unChristian, “our lives don’t match our beliefs. In many ways, our lifestyles and perspectives are no different from those of anyone around us.” Kinnaman says the Barna studies showed that “when it came to nonreligious factors—the substance of people’s daily choices, actions, and attitudes—there were few meaningful gaps between born-again Christians and non-born-agains. Christians emerged as distinct in the areas people would expect—some religious activities and commitments—but not in other areas of life” (p. 46).

Kinnaman continues: “In virtually every study we conduct, representing thousands of interviews every year, born-again Christians fail to display much attitudinal or behavioral evidence of transformed lives. For instance, based on a study released in 2007, we found that most of the lifestyle activities of born-again Christians were statistically equivalent to those of non-born-agains.

“When asked to identify their activities over the last thirty days, born-again believers were just as likely to bet or gamble, to visit a pornographic Web site, to take something that did not belong to them, to consult a medium or psychic, to physically fight or abuse someone, to have consumed enough alcohol to be considered legally drunk, to have used an illegal, nonprescription drug, to have said something to someone that was not true, to have gotten back at someone for something he or she did, and to have said things behind another person’s back. No difference” (p. 46; emphasis added).

One Barna Group study examined Americans’ engagement in some type of sexually inappropriate behavior, including looking at online pornography, viewing sexually explicit magazines or movies, or having an intimate sexual encounter outside of marriage. “We found that 30 percent of born-again Christians admitted to at least one of these activities in the past thirty days, compared with 35 percent of other [non-religious] Americans. In statistical and practical terms, this means the two groups are essentially no different from each other.” (p. 47; emphasis added).

As noted earlier, among young people, 84 percent say they personally know at least one “committed Christian.” But only 15 percent thought that the lifestyle of those Christians were significantly different from the norm (p. 48).

Who’s to blame for this dismal failure of nominal Christianity?
False teachers—those who knowingly or unknowingly teach mistruths, half-truths or outright falsehoods. Either way, churchgoers are not being taught how to live according to godly standards. Lives are not being transformed. But the greater problem is that churchgoers love to have it so! Too many people don’t really want to change. The carnal, human mind is at odds with God’s way of life (Rom. 8:7). Overwhelmingly, people simply don’t want to give up their material and sensual pleasures.

But there are those few who do love God and His way.

If we love God and His truth, we will not tolerate false teachers who only seek to placate their congregations by teaching “smooth things.” Such pastors are actually “of the world; because of this, they speak of the world [teach worldly things instead of the meat of God’s Word], and the world”—those nominal “Christians” who “love to have it so” (Jer. 5:31)—“listens to them” (I John 4:5). But Christ declared that His followers are not of this world. He said in His prayer to the Father, “I have given them Your words, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).

Think about this! If you diligently conform to true biblical teachings, the world will hate you. If you conform to the world’s standards, you will be accepted by society—but you will be conforming to the ways of the “god of this world.”

The apostle James wrote that true believers cannot be friends with the world. He condemned those who compromised with the truth in order to conform to this world: “You adulterers and adulteresses [this includes a spiritual application, referring to the acceptance of false teachings], don’t you know that the friendship [Greek philoo, a loving affinity as a brother] of the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever desires to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Trying to be a Christian and a friend of this present evil world (Gal. 1:4) is impossible—and will only result in compromising with God’s Law. Jesus rebuked the church at Pergamos for this very error. In His “letter” to them, He wrote: “But I have a few things against you because you have there those who hold [observe and practice] the teaching of Balaam, who taught … the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication” (Rev. 2:14). Anciently, Balaam taught Israel to compromise with God’s Law. Thus, Jesus is warning Christians today against allowing any compromise with God’s way of life as defined by His laws and commandments. It is interesting here that Christ mentions fornication. For the Christian today, spiritual fornication is any involvement with false religion.

Jesus continues: “Moreover, you also have those who [teach] the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate” (verse 15). The Nicolaitanes were known for imposing hierarchical, dictatorial type “government” structures over their congregations.

He goes on to warn such churches: “Repent! For if you do not repent, I will come to you quickly, and will make war against [you] with the sword of My mouth. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to [all] the churches” (verses 16-17).

Does your church pastor fully uphold the validity of God’s laws and commandments? Does he teach the Ten Commandments in an uncompromising manner? What is the leadership structure like in your church? Is it rigidly “top down,” where no one dares question the leadership?

A true Christian cannot serve—will not serve—two masters! Christians need to arm themselves with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph. 6:17). This powerful spiritual weapon—the diligent study and reading of the Scriptures—must be utilized to defend against false teachings, watered-down doctrine, and the spirit of compromise that plagues today’s “costless Christianity.” Indeed, “the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of both soul and spirit, and of both the joints and the marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Paul write, “[When] the Lord comes, Who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the motives of all hearts” (1 Cor. 4:5).

False Teachings Must Be Rejected

Paul instructed Titus, a fellow minister, to resist false doctrines and to refute them with sound doctrine. In his epistle to Titus, Paul wrote that a true minister of God must be “holding steadfastly to the faithful word [the truth of God], according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, [as he had been taught by the apostle Paul], so that he may be able both to encourage with sound doctrine and to convict those who are gainsayers. For there are many rebellious and vain talkers and deceivers, especially those from the circumcision party, whose mouths must be stopped; who are subverting whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of selfish gain…. This testimony is true. For this reason, you must rebuke them severely, that they may be sound in the faith; not paying attention to Jewish myths, and commandments of men, which turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled [with false doctrines] and unbelieving, nothing is pure: rather, both their minds and consciences are defiled. They personally profess to know God, but in their works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient [to the Law of God], and reprobate unto every good work” (Titus 1:9-16).

It is the responsibility of every Christian who loves God and His truth to reject false teachings and refute them with the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ. But when false pastors and false ministers gain control over a church and cannot be expelled, removed or replaced with righteous teachers and ministers, then we are commanded by the Word of God to withdraw ourselves from them.

In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul shows that true Christians should separate themselves from those who do not teach and practice the true doctrine of Jesus Christ. “If anyone teaches any different doctrine, and does not adhere to sound words, even those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine that is according to godliness [according to the truth of God], he is proud and knows nothing. Rather, he has a morbid attraction to questions and disputes over words, from which come envy, arguments, blasphemy, wicked suspicions, vain reasonings of men who have been corrupted in their minds [corrupted by philosophy and false theology], and are destitute of the truth [unable to teach the truth of the Bible so that people’s lives are changed]—men who believe that gain [huge budgets, large congregations, outreach programs, youth programs, missions, etc.] is godliness. From such withdraw yourself” (I Tim. 6:3-5).

Does this description fit the congregation you attend? Does the church you attend have pretentious ministers who use lofty-sounding theological terms, but fail to make the Scriptures genuinely relevant to your life? Does your church measure spiritual standing with God by attendance figures, income, building projects, and an endless string of programs? Are false teachings being preached and accepted by your church as “official doctrines of faith”? Are the wholesome words and doctrines of Christ being replaced with half-truths? Is there real evidence of the love of God in your church? Are you tired of being fed spiritual pablum? Do you yearn for something more than an empty Christianity?

Yes, false ministers and false pastors have an appearance of godliness, and their teachings sound true. They call on the name of Jesus, saying, “Lord, Lord”—even proclaim Him to be the Christ (Matt. 24:5). Just as Paul wrote, they have “an outward appearance of godliness”—but they deny the power of true godliness (II Tim. 3:5). Paul adds, “as for you, turn away from all these”!

They “deny the power of true godliness” because the Holy Spirit of God—the very power that enables a Christian to live godly—does not truly work in their lives or ministries. Their ministries are virtually dead—failing to produce in their followers the real changes and growth people yearn for. Since they do not know the power of God’s Spirit, they cannot effectively teach others to live and grow by this same power.

Paul taught only the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. He never compromised with the Word of God. He was never corrupted by the false teachers of his day. On the contrary, he vigorously opposed all such “false ministers.” Every true Christian should follow the example of Paul. We should not be intimidated by false teachers, but oppose them at every turn.