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Profane Praise or Purified Praise

April 2, 2014 | by: Robert Pruitt | 0 comments

Posted in: Pastor's Blog Tags: Faith, Lordship, Gospel, Evangelism, Jesus, Christ

     In Matthew 23:37 the Lord Jesus cried out, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!"  Jesus was obviously concerned about the lack of belief among so many in Jerusalem and throughout both Galilee and Judea.  This heart cry came from the Lord because, "He came to his own [i.e., the Jewish people], and his own people did not receive him" (John 1:11).  Though many followed Jesus during His earthly sojourn, the vast majority of the people did not truly believe in Him.  Knowing that many were following Him for all the wrong reasons, Jesus preached a particularly hard sermon in John 6 at the end of which "many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him" (John 6:66).  He knew the hearts of the people, many of whom followed for a season but did not truly believe, and so John tells us in John 2:23-25:  "Now when he was in Jerusalm at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.  But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man."  In other words, Jesus knew that many who were following Him were false believers who had never come to a true saving faith.  To these people, He would not entrust Himself.

     What was true in that day is true even today.  Many claim the Lord Jesus and yet do not really know Him.  The Lord predicted that there would be those who would, in fact, lead many astray, pointing people to the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).  How do we know that there are people pointing others down this broad way as though it leads to heaven?  Because in verse 15 Jesus says, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves."  Later Jesus indicates that these "leaders" will come before Christ with great claims but will be rejected by the very Lord they claim to have served.  Again, note these words from our Lord:  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'  And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness" (Matthew 7:21-23).

     I have, through many years, watched as preachers make great claims about their ministries, and yet the fruit of those ministries is often bad.  There are those who claim hundreds, and even thousands of professions of faith in the Lord Jesus, and yet their own lives, as well as the lives of many of their converts are filled with corrupt behavior.  We see this in many parts of Christendom, but it is to the perveyors of easy-believism that I would draw your attention in this post.  In my book, Robots or Rebels, I make mention that because easy-believism results in many false professions of faith, legalistic rules must be established in order to "control the behavior" of the converts.  Without the Holy Spirit's indwelling, and without a clear understanding of the truths of Scripture, holiness becomes a matter of legalistic ritual.  Sadly, however, such legalistic standards cannot forever control the flesh, and so many who begin by manifesting a robotic commitment to man-made rules designed to create holiness, end by becoming rebels.  Beyond this, many of these rebels still hold on to the belief that because of some shallow profession of the past they are saved.  I am not saying that it is impossible for a true believer to sin.  To do so would be to contradict the clear teaching of 1 John 1:5-10.  However, I do fear that those who claim Jesus and yet live for the fulfillment of the flesh are not truly saved.

     It needs to be said, that to claim Christ while choosing to live for the pleasures of the flesh is at best a contradiction in terms, and at worst is a kind of blasphemy.  The third of the Ten Commandments reads, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain" (Exodus 20:7).  Is it not taking the name of the Lord in vain to call Him Lord and live for self?  Is it not taking the name of the Lord in vain to live in immorality and yet see yourself as royalty in the eyes of the Almighty?  Is it not taking the name of the Lord in vain to love the world and the things that are in the world (see 1 John 2:15), and yet give indication that you are His and He is yours and that all is alright?  If you cry out "Lord, Lord," then it is necessary that you be yielded to Him, or else your cries will draw forth from the Lord Jesus, "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness" (Matthew 7:23).  Do not be fooled by your own sinful, deceptive heart, into believing you are bound for heaven if you are actually still on the broad way.  Ask God to show you to, and to lead you, by faith, through the narrow gate that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:7, 13-14).