Often times church-goers have responded to me with the following type of statements: “No church is perfect, just keep your eyes on Jesus.” “Don’t worry about what church-goers or leadership are saying or doing, just keep your eyes on God.” “Don’t worry about the church; simply go to church.” Those statements are simply excuses to back away from the serious work God has called His own to.
That serious work is definitely tough. Also the few who really engage in that serious work are often alone with no earthly support; we face serious opposition to this holy work, but God is the help/strength of those who are His. Jude 1:3-4 “Beloved, while i was very diligent to write you concerning our common salvation, i found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept into the church unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness [licentiousness] and deny the only Lord God …”
If the Christian fellowship you are part of is on the broad way rather than the narrow way, seek the Lord and allow Him to use you to continually speak against teachings and practices that do not align with true Christianity. Or allow the Lord to lead you to a fellowship that's on the narrow path. In Matthew 7:13-23, Jesus said “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false spiritual leaders, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits … every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit … Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
2Timothy 2:22 “Flee also youthful desires; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
2Thessalonians 3:6-15 “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who conducts him/herself in a disorderly manner and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some among you who conduct themselves in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this letter, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count that person as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
Concerning church discipline/accountability, the standard is tougher on those in leadership. Those in leadership cannot be exempted. 1Timothy 5:19-22 “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. [The elders] who are sinning, rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. Do not [approve of] anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure.” When a leader is caught with sin, the church must certainly shame that leader publicly, in the church, for the benefit of all. For a while (temporarily), that leader must not teach the church. If he refuses that correction/judgment, then he must be put out of fellowship until a repentant spirit is observed with him.
Church discipline/accountability is important, if not, the whole church will be infected with spiritual virus. The purpose of Church discipline/accountability: Change of heart for the person caught with sin and a reminder to the church that: it is the house of the Holy God (not a physical building but a people set-apart). In Matthew 18:14-18, Jesus said: “… it is not the will of your Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.”
I know that God punishes His own, even if the person is already remorseful/wants to change and is not justifying himself/herself concerning a sin (e.g., God forgave David but punished him, yet the punishment was less than what the Law actually prescribe [2Samuel 12:10-14]). God’s people must allow the Holy Spirit to use them to carry out His judgments in His house. 1Corinthians 11:31 “if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged by God.”
Putting Matthew 18:14-18 into consideration, the following is only applicable when a brother or sister is refusing correction: 2Thessalonians 3:14-15 “And if anyone does not obey our word in this letter, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count the person as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Those who execute the judgment must do so with some gentleness: Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if anyone is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
1Corinthians 5:2-7 “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For i indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though i were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven [from your midst] …” Sometime after that man was deeply remorseful, Paul wrote again to the saints at Corinth: 2Corinthians 2:6-11 “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore i urge you to reaffirm your love to him … lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
When a church elder/leader is caught with a sin, he must be corrected publicly, never privately. Galatians 2:11-14 “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, i withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed ... And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with Peter, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when i saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, i said to Peter before them all ...”
Titus 1:5-14 “For this reason i left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as i commanded you … holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound teaching, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars …’ This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables [superstitions] and instructions of men who turn from the truth.”
1Corinthians 14:27-40 “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. … If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which i write to you are the commandments of the Lord. … Let all things be done decently and in order.”
14:34-35 “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; because it is shameful for women to speak in church.” Concerning spiritual gifts, there is only one thing God forbids women from: Teaching the whole church regularly. That’s the work of an Overseer. 1Timothy 2:9-14 “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety [shamefacedness] and moderation [sobriety], not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And i do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” According to the Scriptures, women are allowed to oversee women and children, but not the church in general (Titus 2:3-4). However, if God cannot find a right man, He will definitely use a woman (Galatians 3:27-28). An Overseer teaches the whole church regularly. The following are synonyms for an Overseer: Elder, Shepherd, Bishop, Presbytero, Pastor, Leading Brother. Concerning women and spiritual gifts, the following are helpful: Acts 2:17-18, Acts 21:8-11, 1Corinthians 11:4-15
In the following, an Overseer was helped (corrected) by a couple (husband and wife): Acts 18:24-26 “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
If anyone brings a message from God, people need to sieve (evaluate, assess) every message by the authoritative Word of God (the Scriptures). Isaiah 8:20 “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” Why would anyone want to follow the teachings of a church leadership that has fake light? Yet millions of people are doing this today. 1John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false spiritual leaders have gone out into the world.” It is wrong for anyone who claims to be a Christian to simply keep quiet and continue listening to spiritual leaders who are teaching things which do not align with the Scripture. God’s Word says, “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, because they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:10-11). Those godly Jews in Berea were not simply going to start following any spiritual leader. They checked to see if the spiritual leaders were saying exactly what the Scriptures say.
Church-goers need to understand that God wants our life, not our church attendance. Amos 5:21-24 “I [YAH] hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” In Hebrew, Bethel means “house of God”. Amos 5:4-6 “For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: ‘Seek Me and live; but do not seek Bethel … for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing. Seek the Lord and have life, lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, with no one to quench it in Bethel”
Jesus said “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23). Malachi 1:10 “Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from your hands.” God doesn’t need the church and its offerings. God wants a people who understand 1Samuel 15:22-23 “So Samuel said: Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of YAH? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. Because rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you …” God wants a people who take His instructions serious.
Exodus 33:5-7 “For the LORD had said to Moses, ‘Say to the children of Israel, you are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you.’ So the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by Mount Horeb. Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And everyone who sought YAH went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.”
John 2:14-17 “And Jesus found in the temple those who sold … and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple … and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold … ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!’ Then His disciples remembered that it was written: Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” Jesus did that at the beginning of His ministry. The following took place at the end of His ministry. Mark 11:15-18 “Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold … And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, ‘Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves.’ And the spiritual leaders heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching.” Oh! How the Churches need those who will give themselves to the Lord, allow Him to fill them and bring serious correction to the churches’ compromise of God’s Word and the wrongs among Church leadership today.
I’m not saying that anyone should physically do what Jesus did in the above quote, but those who belong to God should speak out against things that do not align with true Christianity in the church.
1Kings 18:17-18 “… when Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, ‘Is that you, O troubler of Israel? And Elijah answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of YAH and have followed the Baals.” Those who teach things which do not align with Scripture are the ones causing division, not those who speak out against false teaching or wrong practice. Romans 16:17-18 “Now i urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” This scripture does not contradict Jude 1:3-4 which says “… i found it necessary to write you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept into the church unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness [licentiousness] …”
Acts 20:26-31 “… i testify to you this day that i am innocent of the blood of all. For i have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For i know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years i did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
Those who are true Leading Brothers have the following as priority: Ephesians 4:11-15 “… pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ … to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ”.
Whenever i tell church-goers to beware of false teachers such as Benny Hinn, Rick Warren and many others, they often say: “Don’t touch the Lord’s anointed.” Such people simply don’t want correction or the advancing of God’s truth. Their use of that statement is a twisting of the Scriptural account. King Saul was in pursuit of young David’s life. David had done nothing worthy of death. While Saul was chasing David, David had the opportunity of killing Saul (at two different times). It was at those moments David restrained his own soldiers with those words (don’t touch the Lord’s anointed); but David rebuked King Saul (at two different times).
1Samuel 24:9-15 “And David said to Saul: Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm? Look, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and i said, i will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord's anointed. ... know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and i have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it. Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.”
Prior to Saul’s chasing of David’s life, Saul had being rebellious against God, therefore God forsook Saul, and chose young David. God used Samuel the prophet to anoint young David; and God foretold that David will one day be king, rather than Saul.
The second time David spared evil Saul: 1Samuel 26 “… and there Saul lay sleeping within the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. … Then Abishai said to David, ‘God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and i will not have to strike him a second time!’ But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless? … As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. The Lord forbid that i should stretch out my hand against the Lord's anointed. But please, take now the spear and the jug of water that are by his head, and let us go.’ … Now David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of a hill afar off, a great distance being between them. And David called out to the people … and said ‘Why does my lord thus pursue his servant? For what have i done, or what evil is in my hand? ... So now, do not let my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord. For the king of Israel has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge in the mountains.’ Then Saul said, ‘I have sinned. Return, my son David. For i will no more harm you, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Indeed i have played the fool and erred exceedingly.’ And David said ‘… May the Lord repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord delivered you into my hand today, but i would not stretch out my hand against the Lord's anointed.”
Although David did not kill evil Saul, David rebuked King Saul (at two different occasions). There is nothing wrong with correcting church leadership. A true servant of God will not hate you for doing so.
Also, those who hate correction and don’t want God’s truth to advance often say: “The bible says we should not judge”. This also is a twisting of the Scriptures. In Luke 6:35-37, Jesus said “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return [interest]; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” This does not contradict many scriptures like Leviticus 19:17-18 which says “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” When Jesus said “Don’t judge, don’t condemn, forgive, and you will be forgiven” He is not contradicting the many scriptures that call God’s children to speak the truth in love, clear up confusion, and repel the darkness which false spiritual leaders are spreading among the masses.
By the kindness of God towards us/our sinfulness, we turn away from malice or ill-will towards anyone who has offended us. By His kindness towards us, we must forgive. However, we must still speak God’s truth, expose the lies/errors of false teachers, and deliver people from false teaching/superstition. Ezekiel 33:7-9 “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked person, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and the person does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”
James (Yakob) 5:19-20 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” 1Timothy 1:3-4 “… remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other teaching, nor give heed to fables [superstitions] and endless genealogies …” Leviticus 19:15 “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.”