As always however there is nothing new under the sun beloved. What is past is merely prologue. The Bible says that these things were written down to teach us what not to do yet we do them anyway. The two sets of key verses are both from the Prophet Ezekiel. He prophesied during the time in exile in Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah. In many ways the book is divided into two parts. The first being a warning of judgment from a watchman on the wall and the second half was prophesies of the restoration that was yet to come. That God would deliver His people from captivity, as He always had done. Both sets of verses deal with the role of the priests. What they were doing and what they ought to be doing. The modern day parallels should be drawn to the leaders of the church today. They have a role that they are not abiding in. The charges against the priests in the 22nd chapter should be eerily familiar to what we see happening in the church today.
First of all we see a violation of the laws of God. They actually practice not adhering to the laws of God and teach the people to do the same. The obvious example from today is the heretical teachings of someone like Joseph Prince who eviscerates the law in the lives of believers. Now beloved, let's not gets lost in the nuances of false teaching. It is true that because of grace, we will not be judged by the law when we face God on the final day. His blood will cover our inability to keep the law, hallelujah! The law is nailed to the cross when it comes to matters of eternal judgment. That being said, do not fall for the lie that then concludes the law has no place in the lives of believers. The law is still perfect. It is still holy. It is still what God desires. Our striving to keep the law is done not as an attempt to secure salvation but rather as an outgrowth of our salvation. We now want to please God as so we strive to keep His law. Remember, it is in place for our good. Yes if we commit adultery and repent God will be faithful to forgive on the final Day of Judgment but that does not make adultery good or desirable.
Secondly, the church leaders have profaned the holy things of God. We have already discussed Easter bunnies on the altar of God. We have discussed vile secular music replacing the worship of the one true God. We have discussed gleaning life lessons for our carnal growth from the most sacred moments in our faith. What about the actual process of salvation to begin with? This two sentence false prayer followed by a declaration that the person is saved when they most certainly are not. In the Purpose Driven Life Rick warren offers up a "sinner's prayer" that is less than 10 words long. How cheap do these people view the sacrifice of Calvary?
Thirdly, the leaders make no delineation between the holy and the profane. Between the clean and the unclean. I cannot think of a more suiting indictment of American Christianity today than this. Joel Osteen openly brags that he does not tell people what they do wrong because he thinks they already know. The topic of sin within the Seeker-Friendly Industrial Complex is simply anathema today. When church leaders like Bill Johnson and Bill Hybels canvassed their communities to find out what the unchurched wanted in a church and what bothered them most people admitted that they did not want to hear about their sin. What a surprise. Yet even more of a reason why it needs to be preached. Clean and unclean? Everything is considered somewhere in the middle for modern churchianity. While the Bible presents everything in the moral absolutes of black and white, modern church leadership like the priests in the days of Ezekiel, talk about everything in terms of hazy shades of grey. There is still a week left though to reconsider the holy and the profane.
Fourthly, the church leaders today have hidden their eyes from the commands of God. Many top pastors have gone as far as to tell their congregants that the Ten Commandments do not apply to Christians. Another tried to rewrite them to be more palatable. Joseph Prince redefined repentance as merely, "consenting to be loved." Instead of carrying your own cross the people are taught that God wants them to be rich. They have traded in the true signs and wonders of salvation and healing for gold dust and glory clouds. They have dumbed down the Gospel to the point of criticizing anyone who wants to go deeper into the Word. One pastor referred to such people as jackasses. Another referred to them as the excrement in the body of Christ. Consider this old quote from mega church pastor Steven Furtick:
"We don't teach from books of the Bible because it gets in the way of evangelism. We don't offer different kinds of Bible studies because it gets in the way of evangelism. We don't teach doctrine because it gets in the way of evangelism. If you want to be fed God's word or have the Bible explained to you, then you are a fat, lazy Christian, and you need to shut up and get to work, or you need to leave this church, because we ONLY do evangelism" -- Steven Furtick
Yet the Bible says that only the Gospel leads to salvation. Without doctrine you cannot evangelize. Hidden his eyes? Furtick is blind and is creating blind followers. Lastly from the first set of key verses we see that leaders actually profane God themselves. We could easily speak of such blasphemous heresies such as Jesus Christ going to hell and being born again, a position held by proponents of the word faith false teaching. We could discuss the profaning done by the Joseph Prince's of the world who teach that God is never angry with us. Who alter the character of God to suit their carnality. The truth however is even more insidious because all of the things we discussed today profane the name of God. The mere act of taking the most holy of days in our faith and reducing it down to bunnies and feel good sermons profanes God. Do we truly understand this today? Many may read this and wonder what they can do about it and the answer is real simple. Do not tolerate it. Walk out on it. If you get to your church and your pastor is not taking Resurrection Sunday as being holy you do not have to stick around to see it profaned. We do not have to sing the latest Miley Cyrus song. We do not have to participate in the Easter egg hunt. We do not have to stand by and watch the most holy day in our faith turned into a motivational, self-help class for the sake of being relevant to a lost and dying world. Consider the other key verse, from the 44th chapter of Ezekiel and how the leaders are supposed to act:
And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. -- Ezekiel 44: 23 (KJV)
This is what we ought to be seeking this coming Sunday. We have a week to get it right beloved. We have a week to ensure that we will only partake of a service that keeps the holy, holy and the profane on the outside. To be the church again that teaches people the difference between what is holy and what is profane instead of mixing them to the point that you cannot tell the difference between the church and the world. To actually teach people to discern between what is clean and what is unclean. When we truly consider all He has done for us this seems the very least we could do.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016