Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 1:44 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “The Heart of Man.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 19:45-48 (ESV).
A Den of Robbers
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
A den is a home for animals, a room in someone’s house, or it is a hideout (secret place), in this case for robbers. A robber is a thief, i.e. “one that steals especially stealthily or secretly” (Merriam-Webster). A secret is something that is hidden from sight, with the purpose and intent to prevent others from discovering the secret. And, to steal is “to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice” (M-W).
Rather than go into detail as to the historical significance of what actually took place at the time period in which Jesus cleared the temple of these robbers, I believe the Lord would have me look at how his temple today – his church – has become “a den of robbers.” It has become a home (a hideout) for false teachers (wolves in sheep’s clothing) who have invaded the church stealthily through the use of lies, manipulations, deception and trickery. They steal the word of truth from the people, their money, and their dedication and loyalty via false pretenses and manipulations of truth. They masquerade as angels of light but underneath they are vicious wolves full of wicked schemes and deceit.
The people that Jesus Christ drove out of the temple were those who sold, i.e. they were merchants, but they were also those who took advantage of people. A merchant is a business person who is in the business of buying and selling. We have people in our churches today who also fit this description. Many of them are called “pastors” or “elders” or “deacons.” They run the church just like it was any other man-made business. In order for them to sell their man-made services and products, they must market them to their targeted audience, which is usually the people of this world, i.e. the unchurched.
A few years ago I went back to work after having been a stay-at-home mom for many years. I was thrust immediately into the field of marketing and sales, though I had no previous experience in that field. My expertise was in the area of secretarial work (administrative assistant), and so I ended up in a job working for a company which sells computers, as a temporary employee, followed by working for a real estate agent, as her personal assistant. I did much work for both of these employers in the area of advertising and marketing of their products, but it was a learn-as-I-go job experience.
A few years after that I returned to college and finished the necessary course requirements to get an Entrepreneur Certificate, just a couple of classes shy of an associate degree in business, so I do know a little bit about what I am talking about. Plus I have been in church ministry most all my life, and I have witnessed the change in direction a large percentage of today’s church has taken, which is away from the foundations of scripture to following after humanistic philosophy for how to grow their churches. My husband and I were also church planters twice, so we went through the training and learned a lot of the tricks of the trade, so I know of which I speak from personal experience and training, as well.
In order to sell the church to the people of the world, the “merchants,” i.e. the church leadership has resorted to following the direction and leadership of master marketers who teach them what they need to do in order to attract large audiences (customers) to their churches. I have personally witnessed much in the way of lies, deception, manipulations of people’s emotions and manipulations of truth; and using people and then tossing them to the curb, targeting only certain people groups, and purposefully avoiding and casting aside those they don’t want, including those who follow the unadulterated word of God. Since the world is their targeted audience, they do what will attract the world to their meetings, which means they must dilute the gospel message to make it more appealing to the world and less offensive, and they must focus much time, money and attention on entertainment.
They teach a cheapened version of God’s grace which is much like teaching free license to continue in willful sin against God, free from guilt or remorse. Many of them teach that we don’t have to repent of our sins to be saved and that God requires nothing of us – no obedience, no surrender of our wills, no submission to his plans and purposes for our lives. All we have to do is “believe,” yet that is not really ever explained but rather gives the impression it is some emotional experience or an intellectual assent to the fact that we are sinners in need of a Savior and that Jesus died for our sins and that he wants to forgive us our sins and to give us eternal life with him. But, they don’t teach that to “believe” means we have to die with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, that we must allow the Spirit of God to transform us in mind and heart away from sin and to following Christ in obedience, and that we are to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness in the power of the Spirit within us. They don’t teach this because it would offend people.
They give the impression that they walk in freedom because they have pulled away from legalism, and because they market themselves as “authentic.” But, they have just traded one form of human-based religion for another. They are still following rules made up by humans. Many are still bound to traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. They put the teachings of humans above the Word of Truth when the Word of God conflicts with their human goals and objectives. Movies have replaced scripture as have books written by mere human beings, in many cases. The Big Show has replaced true worship, and instead of the church meetings being about the Body of Christ encouraging and strengthening one another in the faith so they can go out into the world with the gospel, the world has been brought into the church and the meetings are largely targeted towards making the world feel “at home” so they will want to come back.
One day Jesus is going to cleanse his temple again, and he is going to drive out these business people, i.e. these marketers (merchants) so that his house can once again be a house of prayer (See Rev. 2-3).
Seeking To Destroy
And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
Satan is the author of all this human-based religion which seeks to win the approval of humans over the approval of God, and that seeks to please humans over seeking to please God, and that honors human beings above giving honor, respect and reverence to God. Satan is thus the one truly seeking to destroy the Body of Christ, his church, and he uses human instruments to do his dirty work. His goal is to destroy the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to disenfranchise all “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (See Rev. 12:17; 20:4). He has been somewhat successful, too, in discrediting both the gospel, as taught by the apostles, and those who still teach it, so that many who call themselves Christians are really following after a lie and not the truth.
So, Jesus is calling his church to wake up, to repent of her sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery, and to return to her “first love,” and to follow him in obedience and surrender to his will and to his purposes for his church, his bride, and to stop following after humans.
The Heart of Man / An Original Work / April 4, 2012
Based off Matt. 15:1-20; Mk. 7:1-23
Listen to me ev’ryone and
Understand this teaching of Christ:
Why do you break the commands
Of God for the sake of tradition?
When you follow the ways of man,
And don’t obey the words of Christ,
You nullify the words of God,
And you hold to the ways of man.
What comes out of a man’s mouth is
What makes him unclean and dirty.
The things that come out of the mouth
Come from the heart, from within him.
The heart of man is so sinful;
From his nature, out comes evil:
Lying, cursing, greed and malice,
Lust and lewdness, deceit, slander.
Jesus calls us to obey him;
Turn from our sins; follow His ways.
Yet, his people honor him with their lips,
but their hearts not with Him.
Their worship of God is in vain.
Their teachings are rules taught by man.
Jesus calls us; gently leads us
To return and follow His truth.