Zephaniah 3:1-5 NIV
Woe to the city of oppressors,
rebellious and defiled!
She obeys no one,
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord,
she does not draw near to her God.
Her officials within her
are roaring lions;
her rulers are evening wolves,
who leave nothing for the morning.
Her prophets are unprincipled;
they are treacherous people.
Her priests profane the sanctuary
and do violence to the law.
The Lord within her is righteous;
he does no wrong.
Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
and every new day he does not fail,
yet the unrighteous know no shame.
The city being spoken of here is the holy city of God, now the church, the body of Christ, the Jerusalem that is above, of the free woman, not of the slave woman. We, who are in Christ Jesus, by faith in Him, are the children of promise, God’s people (See: Galatians 4:21-31). So, as applied to us today, these words are for us.
The church of today, at least here in America, is largely living in rebellion against God, though not all are. They are also not accepting correction, particularly the leaders are not. From the top down they have decided to follow the ways of man over and above the ways of God in so many respects. They have turned the gatherings of the church into human businesses, and they are marketing them the same, with all the gimmicks, tricks and marketing techniques used by big business, and in order to gain customers for their businesses.
Because so much of today’s church, at least here in America, has turned the gatherings of the body of Christ into big business, and their customer base is the world, they are using worldly means and methods to attract the world to the gatherings of the church. So, the gatherings of the church are not just the church, but they are a mixture of the people of the world and the church and of those who give lip service to God only. And, thus, the meetings are largely patterned around trying to attract the world via a Christianized version of what the world is offering, in order to appeal to human flesh.
A Desire for Large Crowds
They want to attract large crowds of people from the world, and they want them to come back, so they also have diluted the gospel of our salvation to make it more appealing and acceptable to human flesh. They teach a half-truth gospel which only includes the parts that make people feel good, but which removes all the parts that offend people and make them uncomfortable.
Thus, what they teach requires no death to sin, no obedience to Christ and His Word, no submission to the cross of Christ, no surrender to God’s will for our lives, and no living with Christ to righteousness. Instead, they have reduced “faith” to nothing more than a mere acknowledgement of Christ or a prayer prayed after someone else, after which they are congratulated that they are now in God’s family, and that heaven is guaranteed them, and that it can never be taken away, no matter how much they still sin.
So, they make little mention of Christ’s teachings on what it means to be one of his followers and the cost of being one of his disciples. They make little mention, if any, of Paul’s teachings on how we must walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, if we want to have eternal life with God in heaven.
They leave out what Peter taught regarding the need for repentance and that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and what John taught regarding how we must keep (obey) Christ’s commands (His instructions to us) if we want to have eternal life with God, or how, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we still walk in darkness, we are liars.
They leave out, too, the part about sowing and reaping, “for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:7-8 NASB). And the part about sinful practices where it says that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21). They leave that out, too.
They ignore the warnings given to the church, the body of Christ, regarding their lifestyles and their walks of faith, and how eternal life is not guaranteed them unless one continues in the teachings of Christ and that of his NT apostles until the end. Thus, they give free license to lasciviousness, but they call it grace.
But, God’s grace does not give license to continued and willful sinful practices and liberty to keep ignoring God and his instructions. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly (fleshly) passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s soon return (Tit. 2:11-14).
A Desire to Not Offend
And, the reason they do not teach the whole counsel of God is that it offends people and they don’t want to offend anyone, but they want to teach what is acceptable to the world so that the world, their customer base, will want to come back to their places of business so that they can build their earthly kingdoms while calling them “church.”
I think that one of the main reasons that the church is no longer referred to as the church after Revelation 2-3, is that “church” has become synonymous with these human-based businesses, buildings, church denominations, and this partnership between the church and the government via the 501c3 not-for-profit tax exempt status that so many churches are now under. And, they no longer define “church” as the Bible does, which is only those who have trusted in Christ as Lord and as Savior. And, it no longer functions as God designed his church to function, either, for the Holy Spirit has been kicked out of most of these churches, I believe.
The Institutional Libertine Eclectic “Church”
So, God has been sending out messengers with his true gospel to the church, as well as to the world, to draw God’s people back to him in purity of walks of faith, to get them to turn from their worldliness and to forsake their idols and their sinful practices and to come out from among this Babylonian institutional libertine eclectic “church” (See: Rev. 18:4-5). But, it appears to me that not many are accepting the messages, but rather they are rejecting them, which was prophesied in scripture regarding these last days.
In fact, this worldly “Babylon” church is, I believe, persecuting the saints of God who are following after Christ and who are teaching the true gospel of our salvation, and they are trying to silence her, to hush her up, so that she no longer teaches what is true. They are saying to her:
“Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” Is. 30:10-11 ESV
Their goal is to bring the whole world together as one, regardless of faith (religion) or walk of life. I am even seeing this in the cartoons my grandchildren watch on TV. They are teaching them that bad is good and good is bad and that we should all just accept one another no matter what we believe or practice and that we should judge no one, no one’s beliefs or practices or sins, but we should keep these things to ourselves so that the whole world can join hands together and sing “Kumbaya.”
This is where it is all headed, and it won’t be long before it will be regarded a hate crime here in America, in the church, and on the internet, to preach the true gospel of salvation. Already the worldly church is persecuting those who teach the true gospel, and I know some people have been encouraged to leave some “Christian” websites or change their message to this “feel good” message that appeals to human flesh.
The pressure is there to conform to the masses or be rejected and cast aside. It is just a matter of time before Christian bloggers will be forced to change their message or have to give up their blogs. The signs are all there that this is the direction everything is going, and it fits with the fulfillment of prophecy of scripture regarding these last days, too. We are quickly moving in the direction of the total rule of this beast (See: Revelation 13).
God’s Desire for Purity in His Church
But, God is still on the throne. Amen! He is still in control over all things and over all rulers and authorities, and he has a day of judgment in mind, not just for the world, but for the worldly church, too, and for these wicked rulers and church leaders who have turned his gospel upside down in order to give people a false hope of salvation based on a lie.
But, all this will fulfill the prophecy of scripture regarding these last days, and then the end will come, and Christ will return for his bride, who he has made pure and ready for him (See: the book of Revelation, Isaiah, and the rest of this chapter here in Zephaniah).
And, all that will yet take place will be because God/Jesus loves us, and he wants us to have eternal life with him, and for us to live in him and in his word and in his righteousness and holiness and to be ready to meet him, our husband, so that none of us will hear, “Depart from me, I never knew you!”
Jesus Loves Me
Anna B. Warner / David R. McGuire /
Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.
Jesus loves me still today,
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.
Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way;
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 5:45 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from Your Word. May we take it to heart and apply it to our lives. Amen!