Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Speaking Out

A lot of times our natural minds get in the way when dealing with sin; particularly in our own lives, but also concerning our brothers and sisters. We have become a society so focused on individual rights, we fear correcting and we fear correction. The end result is compromise. Is silence really the method of how New Testament believers corrected those in the faith (or appearing to be in the faith)? Sure, we should pray for each other, but I just want to throw out a few scriptures, as I increasingly see people claiming that it's not love to correct someone or point out error. The result of this is people fearing to speak out even against gross error in the church-- for fear of being labeled “critical” or a “heresy hunter”, or without mercy. This has become a control tactic in the hands of manipulative people. I think correction is a good thing depending on the motive involved. Nor does it negate the place for grace.

The judgments of God, although appearing harsh at times; where they not motivated by His mercy to those who would see it? To turn nations, peoples and hearts from wickedness?

What if Peter had remained silent when Simon the sorcerer desired to sell power from God. Today, there are some in the church who would say, ‘We must pray for Simon and the Lord will reveal his sinfulness’. Well, hopefully, but will it be before he dies or vex 20 people in the process? Simon’s heart was sinful and not right. He wanted power I think for personal ambition, and unfortunately, this is like many people out there. The Word made a point of mentioning how people used to look up to this man. Nor did Simon truly value the holiness of God because he thought God’s power could be purchased with money.

Acts 8:9-24
9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which before time in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

Mr. Prophet: I have anointing oils for sale: aromatic vanilla and strawberry; and one to soften the skin, only $14.95

My sister’s ex-husband used to exclaim how he had a special anointing from God to "witness to women", and that this was God’s special calling on him, even as a pastor. This “anointing” was so strong he had trouble keeping his pants up when women came around. The sheer power of his anointing made his pants drop for inexplicable reasons…sad to say, they divorced after twenty plus years of marriage. Did the devil make him do it or did he have a choice? He came on to a non-believer who was a good friend of mine some years ago; and she told me “I thought he was a preacher”. Eventually, his ministry suffered greatly for it and his credibility has been sorely diminished.

Paul rebuked Peter, and there is no mention of Paul engaging in spiritual warfare before or after approaching him. Some would say, deal with the principalities and not the man. Yet those accounted in the New Testament dealt boldly with sin and error in the church. In Galatians, we see Peter was tempted to compromise with the Jews and Paul rebuked him:

Galatians 2:11-14
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

If you see someone you care about, or even for that matter, a stranger walking toward a cliff, would you warn them or would you remain silent, and say to yourself “I pray you be filled and warm, and hope you hear God’s voice not to continue walking”? People including myself, can get caught up in the moment, and allow emotions to flare, but it does not negate the fact that we should speak out on certain issues. Particularly, when something can effect a lot of other people, not just the individual receiving correction.

Ultimately, our blue print lies within the Word of God. I have been corrected at times, and sometimes those correcting me were in error. One day in church, an acquaintance of mine vocalized why I was not lifting my hands up praising God in church, ‘for He is Elohim and we are little Elohims’. It was in a megachurch I attended six years, and people lifted hands and yelled often in unison with a panning camera. All that is missing is a concession stand, with peanuts, popcorn and candy bars and the act will be complete. Back to the point here---good correction has it purpose, and for me personally, it has helped my walk with God.

Ministries as opposed to individuals, typically have a wider range of influence. Therefore a dangerous ministry will typically cause more harm than an individual in sin or promoting error. And yes, there is a place for mercy, and God extends grace, but He demands repentance. Ministers/ministries tend to have a greater impact, and that is why I have spoken out against some of these groups. I take no pleasure in it, I fear for the salvation of some of these people. There is a time to remain silent, but there is a time to speak out. Those with His Spirit qualify to speak out against gross error in the church; not just the Ephesians 4:11 crowd. Too many of these leaders are gagging people’s mouth’s with manipulation and twisting the Word, claiming “rebelliousness”, and “religious spirit”. When they start preaching the Word in sincerity, then maybe they can claim those things, until then; it is simply a hollow argument.