There are many present in the church these days that deceive the children of God and are unfaithful to Christ. They openly sin and are bold enough to enter the assembly to worship and take part in every holy act. Time and again the Word of Christ tells that the church ought to be kept pure for Christ. It appears that the idea of church or the sanctity of it is of the least concern for leaders and preachers in it. The fact that the church (group of people) belongs to Christ is readily accepted by any who enters the assembly, but the truth that the church in its sanctity is what belongs to Christ is ignored. Those that are responsible for keeping the church clean by reproof, rebuke and exhortation have become lame, since they themselves are bound with the worries of the flesh. They are afraid of what might happen to their reputation or the reputation of the reputed people; much worse they are worried about losing members and the wealth that comes from them.
It has also come to the point where Christians are assuming that giving to God in whatever measure, partaking of the Lord’s Supper or attending the worship will cover their sins. Satan is accomplishing his work by luring the leaders, preachers and the members into such notions. There are foreigners in the church of Christ and of God that do not belong to the church and are a hindrance to those who seek and perhaps might seek God. Their work of flesh has become a great hindrance; hindrance, because some of these occupy higher positions or in authority in the church (while the rest support them) and are not feeding it with the Bread of Heaven. These then impulsively deem others like them highly. They are with only one aim – gathering and keeping their own kind; none, whether preachers or members, are willing or able to correct or expel them. The sin of these has become so great that Christ is publicly ignored. Now, praise for the church and work of men has gained precedence. The churches have become houses of demons and members are instinctively becoming the children of Satan. What rules the churches these days is wealth, fame, knowledge and reputation, but not Christ. Why are we so worried about reputation, and the desires of the flesh? Does wealth bring us to God or make us righteous? Yet, by righteousness God provides all things.
There are times and reasons when forgiveness is to be practiced. However, sin and agents of sin should not be allowed to enter the church. God has given each of us His word, common sense and if you are of Him, filled you with His wisdom and strength to act for His namesake. It is wise to remove the root of bitterness than to permit it to grow and let the whole tree sour. “On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God” (Neh. 13:1). Are not these things written for our learning that we follow their discipline to revere God and in the law of Christ? But, the root of bitterness has entered into the entire church and has become more acceptable than God’s wisdom and strength. For this reason, leaders, elders and preachers are in darkness; teachings are lifeless and so are the churches. Their tongue speaks vehemently, but not because of the Spirit; they change their appearance for God, but not their hearts. Hence, they preach and work, because they know they are being paid and not because they worked for preaching the gospel to get their living.
When the whole tree has become bitter, how can God graft in new branches? Can a bitter tree support the new branch to make sweet fruit? But, if God desires to graft in new branches, He will first remove all bitterness and the cause for bitterness. He will bring forth a tree that is good for bearing fruit. God will nourish the tree with His Word and Spirit and glorify His name. For such is the Might and Presence of God. “But You, O LORD, abide forever, and Your name to all generations” (Ps. 102:12).
Though God will remove all bitterness and the cause for bitterness it is imperative that we understand the reason for it. If you are bitterness, then you too will not be spared. Your bitterness is the sin in you in the form of godlessness, the doctrine of men and your inability to stand up against Satan. Yet, if you say you have no bitterness, then you are revealing your foolishness. This is what many are doing today. They are unwilling to listen to the warning of God. Their teachings and works have not changed. They are not resolving themselves for Christ. At the reading of the Word they cover their faces with a veil of unbelief, because they fear belief. This unbelief is because they were not brought to the Word for Christ, but for other reasons. As a result, many doctrines have come forth; improvisation is widespread. Hence, when they are taught or reminded of the truth they immediately resent it and hate those who teach. “…for they do not know the way of the LORD or the ordinance of their God. I will go to the great and will speak to them, for they know the way of the LORD and the ordinance of their God. But they too, with one accord, have broken the yoke and burst the bonds” (Jer. 5:4-5).
How long do you think God will bear this bitterness? If you are the last of the bitterness at your place, then the patience of God has run out with you. For everything there is an appropriate time for God. Yet, not a human is aware of it. But when the time appears, the judgment of God falls upon you. All the days that God has exhorted you through the Word and His people stand as witness for His judgment upon you. Do you desire to be prepared for that sudden time that comes upon the ungodly? Then come out of their ungodliness! For God has measured their appearance. He will not yield to those who fear belief. They fear it, because they do not want to change, do not wish to cast out their reputation among men and do not desire to suffer for preaching the gospel to get their living. Do not be deceived God is watching all wickedness. He is watching all those who have become its agents. He has even prepared a time and place for them. “I said, ‘What is it?’ And he said, ‘This is the ephah going forth.’ Again he said, ‘This is their appearance in all the land’” (Zech. 5:6). But as for you do not be tangled in their work; seek the Lord and be saved.
Let Christ come into your life and clear your conscience filled with the things of this world, the teachings of perverse men, fear, anxiety, weaknesses and the trials and temptations that constantly keep you on the edge. Have you ever experienced a life filled with Jesus? There is calmness, strength, power and freedom from all the surrounding things. Your heart and spirit will become a part of Him and heavenly things flow from Him to you. Peace will be your treasure; happiness and joy your assets. Their bearing will be visible as you overcome your enemies, win the hearts of your spouse, children, parents, siblings, relatives or friends, because of Jesus. Men will wonder at the change in your life. Some will even envy your life which they cannot obtain by any other means in this world. I have seen people without Christ test and threaten those with Christ and they have never won the battle nor will they. Whether in low times or high times your will not waver nor will you change your appearance. “Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished” (Mark 6:51). Do you now realize the power and the might of Christ our Lord? Yet, you will need His strength to come out of this world and He is capable of providing it for you.
When you hear the gospel spoken in the Spirit, it will touch your heart. Then, when you incline your spirit to be with God, Christ will be the Way. He will perform whatever necessary, whether simple or great, to bring you into the Way and you will be astonished. And you will seek what ought to be done and that too without fear or compulsion. “and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” (Acts 16:30). However, remember, that lawlessness is also at work. It is mightily working in those who are in the church. These will work to take you into their fold, but Christ will help you overcome as you rely upon Him from your inner room. Though you will have to walk through the narrow places or are set on a hill top, He will protect you. His grace will not only protect you, but will guide you and help you fear Him that you would not forsake it.
They who have not known such grace are lawless and will be revealed at the right time. God waits for that time, the time when He removes you out of the way; for He will make you as one who restrains their lawlessness by working through you His righteousness and works. Then, He will remove you in your faithfulness that the work of the lawless should be revealed. (For this reason, some deaths are bewildering and some migrations necessary, but to the lawless these are a joy and a time to curse). The time for you to become faithful has become the patience of God toward you and the time of your faithfulness has caused the time of their revealing. You will gain victory in Jesus, and they to defeat or even the nether world. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:7).