Pleasing Passions

Itching Ears
2 Timothy 4:1-4 ESV

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

This time has now come, if it never came before. We live in a time, at least here in America, when many of those who profess Christianity as their faith have accumulated for themselves teachers who say what they want to hear, that which suits their own passions (lusts). These teachers give them pleasing, feel good messages to make them laugh, and to make them feel comfortable, and at home, so that they will like the pastor and the church gatherings, so that they will want to come back to their meetings.

It is all about marketing. It is all about growing their churches, i.e. their businesses, the way of humans, not the way of God. So, the leaders of these churches with the feel good messages are following man’s methods for how to grow the church rather than following the ways of God, and allowing him to grow his church. And, these churches have pretty much all become clones of one another, all following the same marketing methodology for how to build their earthly kingdoms, and across multiple church denominations, too.

The customer base is the world. So, they gear the gatherings and the messages and the music around what the world is clamoring, only they may give a cleaner version of it than what the world gives. It is still of the flesh, though, and sensuality will shine through, no matter how much they try to make it look clean and pure. It is all about pleasing the customers, the ungodly, and drawing in large crowds of people. And, it is about discouraging the godly, too, for they don’t want anyone to be offended by the truth, lest they not want to come back.

Thus, they also dilute the gospel message to make it more acceptable and appealing to the flesh of humans. They have reduced the message of the gospel to nothing more than a mere acknowledgment of Jesus and acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, and then they guarantee their responders that they now have heaven secured, no matter how they live their lives from this point on. But, what they are selling them is fire insurance, not salvation from sin, and it is a lie.

So, the church may brag of many salvations, i.e. of many people coming to faith in Jesus Christ, but oftentimes their faith is human faith, which is based on a lie, and so it is not saving faith at all, and these people are being given a false hope. For the faith they have is in a false promise which says that nothing has to change in their lives. They can go on living basically the same way they did before, and that change is optional, for, they say, God requires no repentance, no submission and no obedience to him or to his Word.

Readily Enough
2 Corinthians 11:1-4 ESV

I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

These preachers with the feel good messages are not only teaching another gospel, other than the one Jesus and his NT apostles taught, but they are teaching another Jesus. It isn’t that they are talking about a different person, they aren’t. They are just painting a different picture of who he is and was. They are creating a Jesus in their own minds and hearts which fits with their worldly viewpoints and with their lustful desires. The Jesus they present requires nothing of us at all other than to “believe” in him, only that belief has been reduced to a mere acknowledgment of him.

This was Paul speaking here. He was jealous for the church with a divine jealousy because the gospel he taught them led them to holiness, purity and to walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. It did not coddle their flesh. So, whether the gospel they were accepting was that of adding externals on to God’s grace or whether it was that of removing God’s requirements for salvation, still what they were receiving was of human flesh, created by man, and was not of God, and they were not to accept it.

The other Jesus and the other gospel which is permeating much of the church here in America, though, is not of legalism, but of libertinism. What they are teaching gives their adherents the sense that they can keep on in their sinful addictions and still have eternal life with God. They are teaching a false grace which gives free license to continue in sinful practices without guilt and without remorse, while teaching that God is pleased with us no matter what we do. So, Jesus is being painted as weak, tolerant, lenient and accepting of willful defiance against him, all in the name of “faith.”

Not Peace, A Sword
Matthew 10:34-39 ESV

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

But, Jesus Christ is not weak. He is not tolerant (accepting) of sinful practices or false confessions of faith in him based on a lie, either. He did not die on that cross just so we could be delivered from hell and have the promise of heaven when we die, while we still practice sinning against him, with no desire to change. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross that we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus did not come to the earth to bring peace to the world in the sense in which the world teaches peace. He did not come to bring all of the people of the world together as one, regardless of religion or religious practice or walk of life. He did not come to win the world to the world of big business, called “church,” via marketing methods or stage productions or comedy routines or diluted gospels or feel good messages, either. If he was to walk into most of today’s churches, he would probably get the boot, too, and be told to “go someplace else where you are a better fit,” because he is too radical.

Jesus Christ didn’t try to blend in with the world. He didn’t make nice with the world so that they would like him, either. And, he didn’t immerse himself in his culture and society so that the people would think he was one of them, and so they would listen to him and accept him. He stood out. He was different. He was holy and pure and righteous. And, he told people the truth about their sins, about judgment and about the punishment for sin. Yet, he also called them to repentance and to faith in himself.

If we love this world, or our lives of sin, or acceptance of others more than or in place of loving God/Jesus, then we are not worthy of him, to be called one of his disciples. Jesus asks that we leave it all for him, i.e. that we put him first, and that we follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will, and that we forsake our former lives of sin and any hindrances to our faith. He wants us totally abandoned to him, free from slavery (addiction) to sin, walking according to his Spirit, and living to his righteousness, for this is why he died. He died to change us, not just to forgive us.

The sword Jesus brought into the world was not a weapon of warfare in the physical realm, but it was a spiritual weapon to be used in spiritual warfare against our enemy Satan, and that is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. It is the truth of God’s word which turns family members, one against another, because some believe the truth, and some don’t, and those who don’t will often persecute those who do. And, this persecution doesn’t just take place out in the world, but within the church, too.

But, it isn’t just that it is the truth, and that people oppose the truth, but it is that they don’t like what the truth teaches, because Jesus requires death to sin and living to righteousness. He requires we listen to him and that we follow him; that we leave our old lives of sin behind us, and that we follow him in death to sin. He said that if we hold on to our old lives, we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our (old) lives, for his sake, that we will have eternal life with him (See: Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Rom. 8:1-17). So, we need to believe this, and we need to take it to heart, and follow the true Jesus.

Only in Him
An Original Work / February 19, 2014

Based off Isaiah 30

Woe to those who look to man’s help;
Who turn away from Jesus Christ;
Forming an alliance not in step with God;
Making their own plans, and praying not.

Willing not to listen to truth,
They close their ears to what is right.
Pleasing words are all that they’ll hear;
Feel good messages that bring cheer.

Trust in your Lord; turn from your sin.
Put your faith now ONLY IN HIM.
Do not turn to idols. They’ll not satisfy.
Jesus will save you. That’s why He died.

Your Lord will be gracious to you.
He cares all about you, ‘tis true.
He forgives you all of your sin
When you give your life up to Him.

Oh, how truly gracious He’ll be
When you bow to Him on your knees;
Turning now from your sin; walking in his ways.
He’ll lead and guide you all of your days.

Now you will sing praises to Him.
He delivered you from your sin.
You’ll tell others now of His grace,
So they may see Christ face-to-face.

Saturday, April 14, 2018, 8:20 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word. Bring it home to our hearts, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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