Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness that these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord 's instructions. They tell the seers, "Stop seeing visions!" They tell the prophets, "Don't tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your "Holy One of
Re-read the key verses again beloved. I am sure sometimes the call for a cleansing in the modern church and for a return to preaching on sin and repentance must wear thin on some. I get it, I really do. Especially when we are bombarded daily with such positive and cheery "God loves you" messages we would rather hear. I get it. I understand that we would rather hear that this is the year for supernatural blessing in our lives instead of the ongoing call for the end of the spirit of religiosity. I understand which one tickles and which one convicts. I would rather be tickled too but as Isaiah says in the key verses -- I am told by God what to write down. I rarely sit down with a topic in mind or an agenda to get to. I am merely looking to hear from the Lord and write down the words that He gives me. And please realize that these words are always for me first -- God is always first preaching to me -- and then I write it down.
We see in the key verses that God gives these words to Isaiah so that they will stand until the end of time as a witness against the stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord's instructions. Sure enough, over a thousand years later they still stand as a witness and serve to convict us as well because we are now the stubborn people refusing to pay attention to the Lord's instructions. Don't take my word for it:
Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, "No one is righteous--not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one." "Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies." "Snake venom drips from their lips." "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." "They rush to commit murder. Destruction and misery always follow them. They don't know where to find peace." "They have no fear of God at all." Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. -- Romans 3: 9-20 (NLT)
The law simply shows how sinful we are. But there are movements afoot in modern Christianity to dismiss the law. To look only to the cross and say that because of the atoning work of Christ, we are freed from the law and thus need not pay attention to it. Heresy! The only one who wants us ignoring our sin nature is the devil because then it will be so much easier to help us fall. Christ's work on the cross is what will cover our judgment, not our living. Paul even said that just because grace abounds we should not take that as a license to sin. And to be fair, I do not think many really do. I do not think we wake up and say to ourselves -- "I'm looking forward to sinning today and disobeying God!" But when we pay no attention to the law -- which shows us how sinful we are -- that is how we end up being so disobedient. That is how we end up as stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord's instructions (law).
In many ways it is the vehicle of the church itself that drives our ignorance to the sin nature. Modern Christianity has moved away from preaching about sin and repentance because it is not deemed as "seeker friendly" and doesn't lend itself to higher offerings and gaudy attendance numbers. In our pursuit of worldly measurements for success we sacrifice the sanctity of the Gospel upon the altar of compromise. Instead the Gospel is perverted into a "love defeats all" mentality that pushes sinful man further and further away from their sin and thus, further and further away from their Redeemer. Instead of the blood of Christ we hear self-help messages designed to teach us how to live our best life now instead of storing up rewards in heaven for eternity. Instead of the need for a Savior we are indoctrinated into thinking God needed us as a friend -- poor theology reinforced by man-centered worship. We do not need motivation -- we need redemption.
When we really pull back the curtain on the clever marketing schemes and examine these two approaches we discover that the one sold to us as love is not love at all while the one that convicts us is true love. God so loved the world that He let it wallow in its own sin? NO! God so loved the world that He let us all hit the lottery? NO! God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins so that we could have eternal life. If someone motivates you in this life but doesn't share the uncompromised Gospel with you how is that love? If someone builds up your self-esteem to the point that you overcome some childhood trauma but you end up eternally separated from God -- how is that love? It is not love -- it is carnality. It is the love of the flesh. It is the love of this world. It is high sounding nonsense as Paul warned us about:
Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. -- Colossians 2: 8-10 (NLT)
Note the key portion of these Scriptures here is "spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ." In the pursuit of worldly success, the church has moved away from preaching about spiritual warfare. That of course doesn't change the fact that the Bible says we are in a spiritual war. It only means we will not be armed properly for the battles we will face. Seeker friendly, purpose driven, emergent church theories are all high sounding nonsense full of human thinking. It produces unarmed sheep, clueless and struggling through life. Despite the fact that according to these Scriptures from Colossians we are already complete in Christ Jesus who is head over every ruler and authority.
Next in the key verses we see the depth to which we are willing to go to not have to look at our own sinful state. They tell the seers, "Stop seeing visions!" They tell the prophets, "Don't tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Can you imagine? I have seen people have their visions and prophetic words dismissed by leadership because they do not like the message. The gift of tongues seemingly abused to no end. But here are three more points for us to consider. First of all, it says we do not want to hear what is right.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. -- 2Timothy 4: 3-4 (NIV)
Paul had previously instructed Timothy to guard closely only two things -- his life and his doctrine. The devil has done a good job in these end days with turning doctrine into a dirty word and unfortunately, too many pastors have followed suit. Doctrine is what we believe. Without doctrine we are merely making it up as we go along. Without doctrine we recreate God in our own image to make ourselves feel better about our sin. Here in the second letter to Timothy, Paul lets him know that in the end times people will not even tolerate sound doctrine -- they will not want to hear what is right. They will want to hear that they have the power to redeem their own lives so they will gather around them Joel Osteens to hear that. They will want to hear that this is their year for supernatural blessings so they will gather around them all the prosperity preachers they can find. They are confirming their own heresy because they do not want to hear what is right.
Secondly, while we do not want to hear what is right -- we actually want to hear lies! Tell us only nice things! I don't want to hear that I shouldn't be at the club on Saturday night -- I mean, Jesus turned the water to wine right? I don't want to hear that perverse speech should not come from my lips -- I mean that's legalistic isn't it? I want to sing about being fearfully and wonderfully made not about the holiness of God. I want to remind God that He owes me the blessing of Abraham not that I owe Him everything. What do the Timothy verses say? We will turn our ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. It is a myth that this is your best life now. It is a myth that everyone will be supernaturally blessed this year. It is a myth that there is no harm in secularizing the church with pagan symbols such as the Easter Bunny. It seems the modern church is under the false impression sometimes that as long as we do what we do "in the name of Jesus" that somehow our words make our unholy actions holy. They most assuredly do not. In fact when Jesus speaks about those who he "does not know" and will not allow into heaven they all complain that they served Him:
On judgment day many will say to me, "Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, "I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.' -- Matthew 7: 22-23 (NLT)
There is that pesky word "law" again. But look beloved at what all three of the complainers have in common! They all did what they claimed to do in Jesus name, yet he knew none of them! Saying the name of Jesus is not enough. Claiming your actions, new ministry initiatives, or community outreach plans are to reach people for Christ -- is not enough. It must line up with the truth of the Word of God. We need to pursue churches that do not seek to scratch our itch but seek to convict our souls.
Thirdly, while we do not wish to hear what is right, prefer to hear lies and only nice things, we also want to "forget all this gloom." The dictionary defines gloom as "low spirits." Most modern churches no longer specialize in getting low before the Lord. What does the Bible say?
Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies-- so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. -- Ecclesiastes 7: 2-3 (NLT)