19 September, 2006

The Blind Watchman

His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge;
they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming,
lying down, loving to slumber. The dogs have a mighty appetite;
they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way,
each to his own gain, one and all. "Come," they say,
"let me get wine; let us fill ourselves with strong drink;
and tomorrow will be like this day, great beyond measure."
Isaiah 56:10-12

One of the most discouraging aspects of the church today is the refusal of shepherds to discipline sin within the church. One would think nothing but purified hearts are sitting in the pews or working in the offices. But we all know that is not true. Our hearts are deceitful. All of us. If the shepherds would just speak out on what is sin from the pulpit it would be nice but most of the time, they won't even point out sin in person to the sinner! If they do not do this, can they still be called shepherds? Or are they are hirelings? (John 10)

1 Peter 4:17
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

This verse it telling us that judgement must begin with us, the Body of Christ. But, it usually doesn't. Have you noticed this, too?

We are really good at judging the world. I know I was. I have judged homosexuals, those living together, drug addicts, abortionists and many others outside the Body of Christ. We are busy beavers doing this because the culture has become so rotten. We have all heard about how rotten the culture is from the pulpit for years. You know, ...out there.

We are so busy judging those outside God’s House (Woe to you San Francisco, Las Vegas, etc.) that we fail to judge those inside the church. And, this is the exact opposite of what Scripture teaches us:

"I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES". (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

But what do we do? Usually, the total opposite. When is the last time anyone left church truly shamed by their sin? You know, those 'little sins' such as; lying, deception, phoniness, greed, sowing seeds of confusion and chaos, power mad, gossiping, etc., etc.

Yet we point fingers at those who make no ‘Christian claims’ as ruining our culture. Still, we MAY mention vaguely, in passing, sin from the pulpit, sometimes even making it sound more like a mistake than what it is: Sin that God hates and will judge us for at the Judgement Throne. (Revelations 21)

But wait, we don't just leave it at that...it actually gets worse. If someone actually points out sin or rebellion from somewhere inside the church they are considered a troll. They themselves are branded troublemakers for upsetting the false unity of the church and are condemned! (Yeah, how dare they do what scripture commands!)

You will hear things like this:"Well, sinners sin, you know" and "This is a hospital for sinners" and "You should not speak of a brother like that"! Or, "How dare you judge, let him without sin, cast the first stone". Or my personal favorite, "Judge not lest ye be judged". (Why do they always use the KJV for this one?)

How did we go from the biblical exhortations of 1 Peter 4 and Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 to spending our time judging those in the world? Perhaps we are not reading our bibles?

No wonder the world sees us as a bunch of hypocrites! We seem not to be able to deal with sin within our own assembly, yet we are quick to condemn homosexuals, atheists and the like. But will not confront the gossips, liars and deceivers within our own congregations! Why are we quick to cut ourselves off from the greedy and immoral outside the church but not from the inside?

Paul told us to throw them out so they could be saved. That is described as an act of love in 1 Corinthians. Yet, we coddle them thinking if we do throw them out they are lost to the world. So everyone in the church acknowledges, in a vague sort of way, that...well... yes, we are all sinners but grace abounds! We never get real specific so there is no accountability or consequence for the infrequently mentioned sins of the heart. Pastors will tell you, "Well, we have counseling services for this" or "if we confront sin too heavy they will leave and then be lost forever".

Why is this? Well, I think it is because no one wants to be the bad guy anymore. The bold truth guy. The Watchman. The Shepherd. No one wants to obey scripture. It's hard. And with that, it is almost impossible to find 2 courageous witnesses!
The other reason is because rebuking causes dissention. And, we can't have that. And that 'truth in love' thing...well we know that never works.

So not only do we have no real way to deal with sin, we have pretty much forgotten what sin really is all about. Think about this scenerio: Loretta, in your Bible Study group at church, is a total phoney. She acts one way around the preacher's wife and totally different around the peons. What to do? Well, you can pray for her and you should. But what if we searched our own hearts. Do we love Loretta? Do we want to see her in heaven or burning in the Lake of Fire? (Warning: If you said yes to this because Loretta sounds just like 'Brenda' at your church, you better get on your knees...just like me...Now!)

You could spend the rest of your life not liking Loretta and doing nothing. But Loretta has some serious problems that could keep her from eternal life. Do we love her or not? If we do not, we may not be saved. Ouch.

See, I think many Shepherds are just not loving their sheep anymore. They are too busy with building buildings, speaking engagements, writing books and launching yet...another program.

Besides, this rebuking business is messy. People get mad and it got the 'rebuker' (pastor-deacon-elder) in trouble because the 'rebukee' yelled 'foul' and those watching said, 'No way is that ever going to be me'! I mean, rebuking can really cause splits in churches…even when you do it by the Book.

Did it ever occur to us that cleaning house may be a good thing for the Body of Christ? If Loretta gets mad and leaves, then maybe she can be saved like Paul was teaching in 1 Corinthians. Or just maybe Loretta, told in sincerity, may fall on her face asking for forgiveness. But what are the chances she can be saved by staying there with no one ever saying a word to her?

Isn't it ironic that the root of all sin is pride? And pride is the ingredient that keeps us from rebuking and not wanting to be rebuked. Poetic irony, huh?

1 John 3
9No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

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