Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Only God Can Clean the Inside

Matt.23: 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Feverously does mankind work to cleanse the outside of the cup regardless of what poison lies within. And make no mistake, inherent within that labor is a stronghold of pride and self righteousness. Man loves the outside of the cup. Hollywood thrives on it. Fashion is an entire industry built upon it. Stores have shelves dedicated to all kinds of hair and face and teeth products. It is a multi-billion dollar industry. We are consumed with appearance. But man looks on the outward appearance while God looks at the heart. When the outside of the cup becomes an obsession, then you have idolatry and humanism.

Somewhere along the line the church has taken her eyes off of Christ and His gospel and has looked at herself, her needs, her desires, her dreams, her prosperity, and when we look at those sinners outside the church we assess people based upon how they look and what they do, not what they need. And when that kind of judgment becomes the norm than all you have is a system of condemnation wrapped in self righteousness. And that does not represent nor serve Christ.

When Christ died for the sins of the world he paid a ransom for whosoever will believe on Him. And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, those who believed were inhabited by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit seals and empowers and comforts, but what Christ said He would do is speak of Jesus. In fact, the Spirit of God speaks so perfectly of Jesus that the Bible teaches interchangeably that we are inhabited by the Spirit and Christ. That is a great mystery but it indicates how the Spirit speaks so powerfully of Jesus within the believer. So in effect, when we as believers are filled with the Spirit of God, we live and breathe and have our being in Christ Jesus. His life is lived in and through us.

But there seems to be a manmade way to do that. The church seems to suggest that if you conform your outside to certain morals, and if you observe an acceptable form of ecclesiastical etiquette, then you are not only a believer, you are a disciple. This is a great departure from Scripture and is at odds with the path to discipleship laid out by Scripture and indeed the lips of our Lord. Legion are the organizations which provide help for people to give up certain habits but which do not address the inward spiritual problem. And if they do address any inward problem it is usually to help people think more highly of themselves. That is not the way of Christ.

How can we expend such energy labeling and castigating sinners and suggest that we are emulating Jesus? The gospels suggest nothing of the kind, and in fact Jesus was criticized for rubbing shoulders with “known” sinners. And yet the church prides itself on being separate from such sinners. Having lunch with an openly gay man would be considered a compromise. In fact being loving and redemptive toward gay people is not the western church’s way at all. Cleansing the culture is way more important than exhibiting a dangerous and vulnerable love toward lost sinners, especially those who exhibit sins unacceptable within the church. We feel very comfortable reaching out to people who are divorced and remarried while we recoil when confronted with embracing gay people.

That is an open symptom of being obsessed with the outward man and ignoring the entire gospel ministry and the Great Commission. And a subtle by-product of such thinking is a devaluing of the life changing work of the Spirit within the heart of a believer. This is not just unfortunate, but it leads to a works based salvation. There can be no salvation without the work of the Spirit in the hearts of sinners, and when that sinner is born again by faith in Christ and through the power of that same Spirit, that new creation must begin his new life relying upon the Word of God through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. This is a sacred and wonderful and miraculous mystery. All of us who have come to faith in Christ soon realize our former ways of knowing and interpreting truth are no longer valid.

But it is a masterful deception of the evil one to get the church to look and live completely within the confines of what can be seen and touched here on earth. Reason and logic and intellect itself become the method of arriving at truth. And since the fallen culture is based upon those methods, the church ultimately succumbs to the driving force of the culture. And the eyes become the main portal for assessing almost everything. So with that toxic combination professing believers create a scaffolding of judgment and condemnation instead of an atmosphere of redemption through the everlasting gospel. And the outside has now become the main focal point of almost everything.

But we are not of this world and our eyes must see the unseen. It is light years easier to clean the outside of the cup than it is to repent and cleanse the inside. The unsaved world cleans itself up all the time which elicits applause among themselves. Let us see what God sees. Let us speak what God speaks. Let us feel what God feels. And please do not mix the Old Covenant with the New. In these last days God has spoken to us through His Son. Jesus is our model, our mentor, our example, our path, our Master, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Truth, our Way, our Savior, Our King, our Lord, our very Life. He lives inside of us, let us let Him live His life through us and into the uttermost parts of the world.

Sinners do not need a bath, they need open heart surgery.


Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Where to begin? There's so much here to savor. Some old memories come back to me during my times in a church where the outside was very important to that denomination. They taught modesty in dress, which is necessary these past few decades. But, they went further in their dress code and seemed content at dressing like the 1940's models, especially for women. No pants, no shorts, no dresses showing the knees, sleeves not too short, and men always covering all their legs, as they quote the OT verses of how Moses couldn't expose his legs, etc.

But the reasoning they used about dress codes for men and women were taken primarily from the OT; but then they accept the styling trend of the 1940's. before women started wearing men's style of clothing, They quoted how it was an abomination to the Lord for a man to dress as a woman, or vice versa. Anything past those days, the styles started to show more leg and arm and chest. They prided themselves that they were truly apostolic because they dressed in very extreme modest ways as the women of Israel during Jesus' time, yet not entirely like those women, and not entirely like the women and men during the great revival of Azuza, where the hems were below the calf down to the ankles. Somewhere along the line, a Superintendent decided that it was OK for a woman to wear a hemline that COULD expose the calf, as long as it didn't go past the knee. Now where in scripture did they make that evaluation? What inspired these ministers to believe that, it was OK to make adjustments on women's hemlines and still call themselves apostolic?

These are all unimportant matters that clergy fume and argue about in some churches, but if a woman really loves the Lord, her conscience will be pricked according to what she knows at that time, through Christ. She will feel the need to adjust her dressing in modesty as she grows and matures.

Those who think they've 'arrived' because they dress according to a minister's concept of what is right or wrong, get confused and eventually feel they are laboring under the wrong shepherd, as they should be convicted by the true Shepherd.

And so it goes with how legalists perceive sinners. Because they are so self-assured in how they look, they can't help but look down their noses at others whose outsides are "unclean" in their eyes. And if they are too preoccupied with other people's outsides, then they certainly aren't ready to minister to their insides.

Anonymous said...

It's becoming obvious that the church seems to love the Old Covenant rather than the New. They seem to like to cling to the "eye for an eye" laws. I ask myself why, and have observed that it might be because men need to feel justified in everything they do, like, for example, pointing the finger at what they call, God's abominations. They don't yet want to give Jesus Christ all the glory. There's some things in their life that they don't want to yield themselves to, to Christ, and instead prefer to feel self-righteous, believing that their God will pour his wrath on their enemies, or He will show those 'sinners' they can't mess with His Children; they seem to want God to zap anyone who challenges them. Is this why they love guns so much? They feel they can relate more to ancient Israel, because God, the Father, fought for Israel, and sent armies out to fight to victory to show it's enemies that God, Jehovah was behind his Covenant people.

In Jesus, we can't be expecting the Father to send a bear out to eat the children who mocked the prophet (OT story), or expect the Father to send a plague upon the Church's enemies. That's not Jesus' way. We read this in the New Testament. We just cannot feel this vengeful justification in our New Covenant. We have to be so full of the Holy Spirit that we want to love our enemies, pray for them.

Tim: 2 Chapter shows this well: "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle --I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying--a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth."

Anonymous said...

Rick, what you wrote is so true. And praise Jesus that HE loves sinners, and wants to save sinners and indeed does save sinners, despite many in the church who seem to hate certain kinds of sinners, especially if you have a same sex attraction. What's with that anyway? Is not a sinner a sinner? So much prejudice. Do we now divide sinners into categories to see which people are the worse that we can feel better about our own sins which are nowhere near as bad as the sins of 'those people'?

The place I used to attend was very legalistic and OT, the outward appearance was so important; It was so UN-Christ like. Jesus was never given the glory and praise He deserves; the Law received it instead.

Thank you Jesus, for loving me first, so that I, a sinner, can love you back.

Rick Frueh said...

Yes, thank you all. let it be known that if I had been judged by my outward appearance God would never had reached out to me.
How about 6' 5", a large red dog collar with gold studs around my neck, a huge afro haircut, jeans with silver studs up the sides, and driving a van which had a bumper sticker that said, "Don't laugh, your daughetr may be in here". The self righteous church would have loved me!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the blog post and with the observations that anonymous posted. The Lord has been very gracious in showing me truth about the heart verses external appearances. That being said, my personal experience is seeing a swing in those who profess Christ, in an opposite direction to some degree. I remember setting outside a local evangelical Bible carrying church on Easter a while back, observing folks leaving while waiting to pick up my aged mother-in-law. Had I not seen the steeple and signs I could have easily thought I was outside a bar! A few years ago, I went to Africa to assist some brethren in preaching the gospel. I roomed with a brother in Christ, who I came to know had been delivered from homosexuality. We had blessed times of fellowship, prayer and thanksgiving as God graciously moved in the meetings and preaching. One evening as we returned to our rooms and were sharing all we had been a part of that day, he said the following (I was accustomed to wearing shorts for pajamas). With a very contrite spirit the brother asked if I minded not wearing that attire when he was around as it could tempt him in a way that I would have never considered. Needless to say I was sorely convicted that in my freedom, I had unknowingly almost caused my brother to stumble. We are living epistles read of all men. I’m just saying if my Christianity/witness is not truly directed by His Spirit, I can take a dogmatic stance in my flesh that isn’t the Lord. If you want to see fire in the eyes and mouth of most “Christians” today, just try and mention the word modesty and see what happens!!
Blessings – the least brother

Anonymous said...

Blessed testimony, Anon. Thank you. We are to love others and place their well-being above our "rights" (we don't actually have any) and our preferences. Thanks for going to Africa to labor in the Gospel.