PREACHING THE FALLING AWAY
BUT FAILING TO UNDERSTAND THAT
YOU ARE A PART OF IT
II Tim.4: I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
If you have been a part of an evangelical church for any length of time you have probably heard these verses preached and with an application which exclusively assigns them to liberal preachers including the prosperity message, the ecumenical movement, and those who do not espouse the inerrancy of Scripture. And yes these movements are part of the end time falling away. In fact in some circles the falling away is complete. They are no longer Christian even though they use that moniker.
And sometimes the enemy can use the falling away of others to blind other parts of the community of faith to their own falling away. The great falling away has long been set in motion and its influence can be seen across the evangelical landscape. It isn’t just doctrinal issues that are a part of this apostasy, but there are practices that are helping to lead people astray. One of the most beguiling phenomenon’s of our day is to see churches present an “orthodox” statement of faith but in practice they manifest that which is patently at odds with the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament at large. Being doctrinally sound on paper and yet exhibiting unchristian speech and behavior would seem incongruous however it continues to occur throughout mainstream evangelical camps and denominations.
And one of the most egregious aspects of this phenomenon continues to be an allegiance to earthly powers that do not have the interests of Christ nor are they even remotely spiritual. And this dual perspective is not actually a dualistic point of view. It is Biblically a compromise which is spiritually a singularity. What that means is that you cannot have a piece of fool’s gold (Pyrite) in your left hand and a piece of real gold (Au) in the other and claim they are both gold on some level. They cannot be treated in the same way. The Pyrite is worthless and the gold has worth.
And you cannot have ANY allegiance to an earthly power or structure and then claim that in your heart Jesus is Lord. I realize that is a very difficult concept to understand since from our very first breath we have been taught over and over and over again that we should pledge our allegiance to America. We have studied history which elevates our founding fathers to divine instrument status, we have pledged allegiance hundreds of time to the American flag, we have been told about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as if they were divinely inspired documents, we have lined the streets for 4th of July Parades, and all through our lives we have witnessed all kinds of spectacles which reinforce the patriotic spirit. We have seen and rooted for Americans in the Olympics (I do) and during times of war the patriotic spirit elevates to a fevered pitch.
So when we become adults any debate about the spiritual righteousness of being a patriot has not just faded, but it was never even debated even within the church. Now here is where I must beseech you to understand the depth of this issue and not just file it under a difference of opinion as we do in so many other issues. This is an issue which places the Lordship of Jesus Christ in question. Again, it is most difficult to perceive this issue with that kind of profound importance since we have lived with it gladly and even enthusiastically within the church for many, many decades.
But the spiritual detriment that nationalism has caused within the church cannot be overstated. Within the so called “orthodox community” this issue has thrived and has not just flown under the radar so to speak, but it has been embraced openly. That is quite the doctrinal leap and it must be fortified with human reason and a colossal dose of national self righteousness and idolatry. And if to substantiate that perspective one demands a clear examination of the New Testament, as well as how the early believers practiced their faith, in order to gain some perspective outside our own self serving sphere of reference, then the entire concept crumbles under the weight of Scriptural truth and the overt and subtle demands of following Jesus as the one and only Lord of everything.
So unless we parse out or dilute the absolute implications of the word “Lord” as it pertains to Jesus, then we are left with no choice at all. But because of religious stubbornness strengthened by years of unquestioned conviction nationalism is an extremely difficult subject to broach to say nothing of eliciting an unbiased assessment. But my original point of this post is that there are millions upon millions of believers and thousands upon thousands of churches which rightly proclaim that many segments of the church have fallen away from the purity of the faith, and yet they themselves remain blind to their own willing participation in that falling away.
That does not mean that any of us completely and perfectly follow Jesus because none of us would dare make that claim. But when you have misrepresented the truth and set up a false mark, then the distance between following Jesus completely, and our observable commitment to following Jesus, is substantially compromised regardless of how closely your heart and life resemble the tenants of your faith. You see, because the tenants of your faith do not match the tenants of THE faith, even pursuing those tenants draws you further from Christ not closer. Think about that seriously. While you may be sincerely attempting to bring your life into compliance with what you have been taught honors Christ, you still may be on a path which continues to lead you away from the Lordship of the Redeemer. That, my friends, is a very unnerving and even horrifying proposition.
I have attempted to bring out the truth which can illuminate both the Lordship of Jesus and the deep compromise of nationalism. Since I was once imprisoned by the spirit of nationalism even while being a preacher of the gospel I fully understand the depth of its strong roots. And I have no illusions about everyone seeing the light clearly, and in fact many will dig their roots even deeper. But to my delight and surprise, I have seen many repenting and rejecting what they had come to embrace and being led to a more intimate and freer spiritual life that sees Jesus as the exclusive Lord without caveats. And although all of us must continually fight against the spirit of self righteousness which seems to be relentless, we still are thankful to God for showing us His grace in leading us out of what can be described as a Babylonian system of religious allegiance. Regardless of how you dress it up it in noble terms, nationalism remains a large part of the falling away from Christ. But because we have become adept at using our statements of faith as proof of our “orthodoxy” we have slept while the enemy has sown tares within our midst.
An archer is aiming at a target 100 yards away. This target has been set by a GPS system and is exactly where it should be according to the rules. But while he is not looking someone moves the target 10 feet to the left, so when that archer aims at this new target his arrow will still fly in the general direction of the previous target even though the aim has been compromised. Again, while the archer is looking away someone moves the target another 10 feet to the left. Again, the arrow is still generally flying in the vicinity of the original target but now its aim is more severely compromised by the substantially inaccurate placement of the target.
This same scenario continues to occur. But at some point not only has the target been placed significantly away from the original GPS position according to the rules, but now his arrow is flying AWAY from the original target placement. And the end result is that even if the archer’s arrow falls in the middle of target to which he is aiming, it is nowhere near where he should have been aiming. In fact, his arrow now flies away from where he should have been aiming and the closer he gets to the middle of his target the further AWAY from the middle of the original target he gets. Think about that. Even though the archer uses all his skill and practice, and is genuinely committed to hitting the very center of his target, he still is letting his arrows go away from the original and valid target.
So while so many churches teach about the falling away of the church from the purity of the Christian faith, they honestly cannot see just how deeply they have become invested in that same falling away. They themselves are presenting a target which is so compromised by a dual allegiance theory, that believers are following a path which actually leads away from the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is hard to imagine a more horrific spiritual deception than that.
I leave it up to you to embark upon a Biblical and prayerful investigation of what I have presented, not because of what I have said, but because you are feeling the unction of the Spirit.