by Mike Ratliff
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. Jude 1:16-19 (NKJV)
If we do a serious study of the sad state of the Church in these last days it should be apparent to anyone who is not spiritually blind that it is very sick. The gap between genuine Christianity and what is false is becoming more and more defined. In the not too distant past, counterfeit and genuine Christianity could only be discerned with a deep investigation. Now, however, the counterfeit church has become so closely associated with the ways of the world, even to the point that the world sees it as harmless and maybe even fun, that the difference is clearly discernible.
On the other hand, the genuine Church, a remnant, remains faithful and is still hated by the world. The Church should never be a friend of the world. It must be separate. Therefore, we learn that one of the main indications that a church is not genuine, being only a religious segment of the world, is how worldly its leadership and members are. How tolerant are they of unrepentant sin? How much do they adhere to the doctrines of our faith? Carefully read the following passage and ask yourself if we are seeing the encroachment of this into the “church.”
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (NKJV)
We are in the last days. The church is in huge difficulty. The opponents of Biblical Orthodoxy, which includes the doctrines of grace, are all contaminated by pride. They are lovers of self. Since they are without the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they seek fulfillment in what the world has to offer. What is that? They are allured with what money can buy so they love money. Their pride breeds arrogance. Within that “attitude,” they become abusive towards those who they see as mired in orthodoxy. Their natural man mindset cannot grasp the veracity of the Biblical truth that doesn’t fit in their “doctrine,” which is largely made up within their natural man mindset.
They use their mindset’s reasoning parameters to try to understand doctrine, but without the illumination of the Holy Spirit they cannot grasp the truth. Therefore, they reject sound Biblical doctrine because it makes no sense to them. They may be very religious and even leaders in their churches so they have a form of godliness, but their religion is all man-based since their doctrines deny the sovereignty of God and Lordship of Christ. These men see salvation as a work. When confronted with passages such as Ephesians 1 and Ephesians 2:8,9 and John 6:44 and Romans 9 they turn a blind eye and refuse to respond. This does not change them since they are in rebellion and their hearts are hard because of their unbelief.
Again, these people are very religious and even study their Bibles, but even in their learning they are never able to arrive at knowledge of the truth. What is the only hope for such people? Just like those of us who do know the truth, it is a work of the Holy Spirit that opens the heart through regeneration and circumcision that breaks through the callous layers of the heart so that God’s truth can penetrate. I remember very well how God did this in my heart.
Before He did this, my doctrine was one that I had accumulated and stored up since I was a child. It was not based on anything solid in the Bible. It was as I was doing research for a book that I “stumbled upon” several websites that dealt with the ongoing debate between those who held the doctrines of grace and those who despised them. I confess that I had no idea what each side really believed. I had never heard of Armianism. I had heard of Calvinism, but did not know what it really held as the truth. I studied both sides of this debate for many weeks. It seemed that each week saw another point of the 5 points of Calvinism take hold in my heart. As the last one fell, I was truly amazed because suddenly God became huge in my heart. His sovereignty became apparent to my heart and my utter dependence upon Him for my salvation and spiritual growth made it clear how awesome He is.
I reexamined my salvation and my walk since. It soon became very clear that God did it all. He drew me unto Himself. He was, and still is, working in my heart continually to grow me unto Christlikeness.
Therefore, are those mired in godlessness that is man’s version of Christianity hopelessly lost? I think not. I believe God can rescue them just as He did me. However, that does not mean that we stop telling the truth about the churches and leaders of those churches that are off the rails and ate up with the world and its ways. No, we must take a stand against that as we pray for God to break through the lies there and save His people.
Soli Deo Gloria!