I have been thinking and praying a lot about how things have gotten to where they are spiritually in America. There is no doubt we are rapidly becoming an apostate nation and “church”. When 55 million children are sacrificed to our personal god of wealth and convenience—and when we sit back and watch marriage be trampled under foot by both homosexual and heterosexual sin—while the church remains silent, even accepting, there can be little doubt we in America are those Paul talked about in Romans 1.
But as we stand up for the truth of God’s Word and point out the growing apostasy in the church, we must do so detached from self-righteousness and arrogance. All of us have contributed to the growing apostasy in this nation.
And as we critique and rebuke leaders who fancy themselves more as corporate CEOs instead of stewards of Jesus’ sheep, we must not be bitter or hateful toward them. And we must be willing to admit that some of these leaders started off doing great things for God.
People like Bill Hybels and Rick Warren started off as solid evangelists for the Gospel. They were impacting lives and leading people to Jesus Christ. And it would be foolish and arrogant for us to not believe that some people have come to saving faith in Jesus Christ through their past ministry work.
But as we see the ways of men being lifted up in their churches and God being diminished, our tendency is to be angry and forget that these men once were serving God powerfully. But Satan is always lurking around the corner, appealing to our pride and human reasoning. And as God uses us to attract more people to Him we begin to believe our own press clippings thinking we are something special.
We begin to apply our human reasoning ignoring the wisdom of God in His Word. In Acts 2 we are told that God added to the church’s numbers daily. But our human arrogance thinks we are better marketers and leaders than God so we start to apply human reasoning to grow our churches.
We do the right what—draw people into church. But we do it with the wrong HOW—by human methods instead of by the power of the Gospel. And the result is the church swells in numbers but is built on the faulty foundation of humanism instead of the perfect gospel—the only thing that can save sinful men.
But I sense a growing anger—maybe even hatred—for people like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Benny Hinn or others. And I confess that I have had to repent from feelings of anger and borderline hatred at times as I see many Christian leaders and televangelists attract people with a message of humanism instead of the message of the Gospel.
If you have felt the same way, I ask you to join me in asking God to forgive us of any bitterness or hatred we have ever felt for those we disagree with.
See there are real apostates out there—but there are many who really believe they are doing the work of the Lord, but are being deceived by the father of lies. And if any of us believe we are exempt from the seducing lies of Satan then we are fools!
So I challenge each of you to consider doing what the Lord is convicting me I must do. Every time I start to get worked up or angry about the Purpose Driven Church or the Willow Creek Church growth movement, or the over the top Word of Faith or Signs and Wonders movement—I need to stop and pray for these people and pray that God will not allow my own heart to be hardened by my own pride.
Last night my wife and I, after our time of prayer together, were talking about how we look at some of these church leaders as being blind to what is going on around them. But they feel the same way about us. We believe they are being blinded and seduced by the god of this world—and they believe the same thing about us. They believe we are driven by petty jealousy and hatred, speaking against things that in their opinion have been revealed to them by God.
We will continue to stand up for the truth and purity of the Word of God. We will continue to cover important news stories and point you to the Word of God to discern truth from deception. And we will continue to name names if we must. But never let us become arrogant and think we are all that special or superior. But for the grace of God every one of us would still be walking in spiritual blindness and headed for eternal damnation.
Pride is Satan’s favorite sin and most powerful weapon against men. Many a Christian has started off on fire and effective for God only to succumb to pride. And if we do not think that any one of us could be seduced by pride then we are truly fools.
Please join me in committing time every day to pray for Christian pastors and leaders who are being seduced by the ways of this world. And let’s remember that the Lord also told us to pray that God would not allow us to be led into temptation.
Christians must be guided by humility and love for others—even those we strongly disagree with or see as dangerous to the faith.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Paul is listing the effects of love. But we must also look at what the cause of love is—that God would use us to reach the lost with the hope of the gospel. Love is warning people about the error of their ways, not accepting them. We must love one another at the risk of being hated by people who want to just be left alone. Love is not watching someone self-destruct—it is pointing out the dangerous path they are on to help them see the errors of their ways. Not done with pride or self-righteousness—but done with true humility and caring.
Love is the single greatest characteristic of the true believer, period! But let us not incorrectly redefine ‘love” as tolerance for false teaching.
We must stand up for the truth and purity of the gospel and the entire Word of God. But how we do that makes all the difference in the world. If our stance for truth is to condemn others to make ourselves feel superior, we are no different than the Pharisees Jesus rebuked as ‘whitewashed tombs”.
We stand up for the truth because we love all Christians, even those we strongly disagree with. To do less than that is pride and sin.
When you think of Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Benny Hinn or the pastors who now embrace homosexuality as correct in God’s eyes—do you feel anger or even hatred? Or does your heart break to watch them be deceived by an enemy who also deceives us in other ways?
Are we willing to ask God to remove the board in our own eye so we can help others with the speck in their eyes? Or are we so arrogant that we deny the board in our own eye?
Do we loudly point to the sin and error of others just so we draw attention form our own sin and errors? Do we realize that any one of us—if we were in the shoes of these leaders—might be no different? We might be teaching and doing the same things they are but for the grace of God?
Are we convinced we are always right about everything, unwilling to admit we could possibly ever be wrong? Are we quick to condemn others all the while justifying ourselves?
Do we see others as greater sinners than ourselves? One thing I have come to realize as a true mark of the born again believer who seeks to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ: That man looks at himself as the worst sinner he knows!
Only God knows the human heart. But guess what—I know my own heart better than any other human being. And I see the sin and darkness of my human heart in ways you will never see it. I see how every day without the grace of God I would become a depraved lost human being.
So every time we confront or critique the actions or beliefs of another professing Christian—let us spend at least as much time critiquing ourselves—and asking other believers to critique our actions and beliefs. To do less than this is hypocritical and judgmental.
Let us continue to stand up for the truth of the complete gospel and God’s Word. But let us do it in Christian love and humility, never esteeming ourselves better than another. The day we think we have arrived at a state of Christian perfection, we prove ourselves to be children of darkness.
Recording of this message here: