Jeremiah 23:1-3 ESV
“’Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.’”
“Do What You Please”
So, right before I was getting ready to write this devotion someone shared with me an old song from maybe 30 years ago which was sung by a group named “Jacob’s Trouble,” and the name of the song is “Church of Do What You Want To.” That really speaks for itself. And sadly it describes much of today’s modern market-driven “churches” (businesses) here in America and the gospel that they are teaching the people. Here are some of the lyrics:
Are you tired of religions that only seem to bring you down?
Cramping up your lifestyle like a certain thorny crown?
Are you sick of being told that you can’t make it on your own?
If that’s your case, I’ve got a place that you can call a home
It’s at the Church of Do What You Want To
The Church of Do What You Please
The Church of Do What Feels Good, baby
And Believe What You Want to Believe
No absolutes, no wrong or right, just ambiguity
And, if you have been paying attention at all to the messages that are coming out of probably most of these market-driven institutions called “church,” and to the gospel message that many are believing and spewing forth, you should be able to see many parallels between these lyrics and the messages that these false shepherds of the people are giving the people, which they are then passing on to other people as though it is the truth.
For probably most of these market-driven institutions called “church” (ICs) are giving the message that to talk about sin or repentance or obedience is legalistic, or it is teaching “works salvation,” or it is “negative,” or “offensive,” and/or “judgmental,” etc., and thus it is to be discarded and avoided. “Being negative” seems to be taboo in today’s “Christian” culture, for they want feel-good messages and everything upbeat and positive.
Thus, they have altered and diluted the gospel message to make it more attractive, appealing, and acceptable to human flesh and to the ungodly of this world. So now, according to them, you can believe in Jesus (not defined), have all your sins forgiven, and be on your way to heaven regardless of how you live. For many of them are teaching against repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord, calling that works salvation and/or legalism.
And many of them are not even using the term “believe” anymore, but they are saying such things as just acknowledge who Jesus is and what he did for us on that cross, or just accept his love and grace, or just accept his affection for us, and they are then teaching them that they are good to go, that God now accepts them, and that heaven is guaranteed them when they die. No requirements! Repentance and obedience not necessary!
And many people have bought into these lies which they are then spreading to others, and so they are continuing in deliberate and habitual sin, convinced that all their sins are forgiven and heaven is now guaranteed them regardless of how they live. It is astounding how many professing Christians are living in sin convinced that their sins will not count against them when Jesus returns, but that they will still go to heaven.
Woe to the Shepherds
So, what has just been described here fits perfectly with this passage of Scripture regarding the shepherds (pastors, elders, deacons, Bible teachers) who destroy and scatter the sheep of our Lord’s pasture. For so many of them are feeding people lies which are promising them heaven when they die but while sending them to hell because they are convincing them that God will not judge them for their sins and that obedience is not required.
But then there is another group of sheep that they are scattering and driving away in a different way, and these are the ones who are not buying into their lies, but who are following Jesus in obedience and in faithfulness and righteousness and holiness, and who are, by God’s grace, dying daily to sin and who are denying self in order to follow Jesus and to obey his commands (New Covenant). These false shepherds are rejecting these sheep as being “legalistic” and as “negative” because they are teaching about sin, repentance, and obedience.
And so some of these sheep are being rejected and cast aside by some of these shepherds because they do not fit in with their marketing schemes and plans and goals for building their earthly kingdoms. And they are being persecuted and falsely accused of wrongdoing where no wrong was committed. Now, I do not have a head count for how many are experiencing this, but I do know that this is happening, and probably more often in other nations, for so many professing Christians in America are so worldly.
Then He Will Gather
Our Lord Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and he will never lie to us, and he will never abandon those who are earnestly seeking him with their whole hearts. But he didn’t teach the same gospel that these false shepherds are teaching. He taught that we must die with him to sin, not just once, but daily, and that we must walk in obedience to his commands in walks of righteousness and holiness. And his New Testament apostles taught the same thing, that we must forsake our sins and follow Jesus in obedience, for this is the reason that Jesus died for us on that cross (1 Peter 2:24).
But that isn’t the whole story. Jesus and his New Testament apostles also taught that if we do not obey our Lord, and if we do not walk in him in righteousness and holiness, but if we continue in habitual and deliberate sin, in making sin our practice, that we do not know him, and we are not in fellowship with him, and we do not have salvation from sin, and we will not have eternal life, and we won’t enter his heavenly kingdom regardless of what profession of faith in him we have made with our lips. And what will await us is the wrath of God. And he will cast us out.
So, please know the truth of what the Scriptures teach. Read them in context prayerfully and with the full intent of letting the Holy Spirit teach you his truth through them so that you can then apply those truths to your daily lives. And then follow Jesus in obedience, and no longer walk in sin.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
An Original Work / April 15, 2012
Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.
Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
By His Spirit, from above.
Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.