Christianity’s critics seem to want a no-win situation for the Church. They call some churchgoers boring and mock them for being “too good,” yet they’ll call the not-so-good churchgoers hypocrites and proclaim that churches are filled with them. Then the pastors who try ridding their churches of hypocrites get called bigots for not welcoming everyone. So what does the Bible say about this dilemma? When Jesus was criticized for keeping company with sinners, He told His critics He came to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:27-32). Sinners should initially be welcome in churches, where sinners come to be saved. But if they’ve made no effort to change after months of attendance, why are they still there? They should leave and come back only if or when they decide to take church seriously. Paul told the Corinthians to rid their church of Christians in name only, lest their influence corrupt the whole congregation (I Cor. 5). He also warned them, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” (II Cor. 6:14)
Christians are supposed to be loving, so critics will say excluding people from a church demonstrates the opposite. They should ask themselves, is it hateful for members of an art club to ask someone to leave if he or she doesn’t share their interest in art? Or, if someone joins a history club out of curiosity and months later still has no interest in learning about history, why would the other members want to keep that person in their group? A better question is, why would someone want to be in a group devoted to something he or she has little to no interest in? Finally, why would someone not interested in living for God want membership in a church? Members of the “accepting” and “tolerant” churches probably have much in common except for the one thing they should: pleasing God. And of course these hypocrites tell others to please God.
Though Christians shouldn’t be labeled hypocrites for occasional mistakes, it’s a different story for the churchgoers who regularly sin and try to justify rather than change their behavior. They “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3,4). There are plenty of false teachers who will tell them what they want to hear, and if anyone dare tell them the truth, they’ll quote Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Had they read the verses after that, they would know it was a warning for hypocrites who condemn others while disregarding their own sin (Matt. 7:2-5). God expects His people to warn sinners about the consequences of their behavior (Ezk. 33:8), and acknowledging the real existence of fake Christians isn’t judgmental. What’s judgmental is assuming everyone who isn’t a Christian, or at least doesn’t claim to be one, has bad intentions. That’s what is implied when people say they’re Christians just because they’re nice and they help others. Most atheists are in that same category. The fakes may claim going to church makes them different, but worshipping God serves no purpose for the disobedient (Jer. 6:19,20). Some “people draw near [God] with their mouth, and with their lips do honor [Him], but have removed their heart far from [Him]” (Is. 29:13).
The Ten Commandments can be summed up in just two: love God with all your heart and love other humans as you do yourself (Matt. 22:37-40; Rom. 13:8,9). Secular humanists honor one of these commandments, but to be a Christian you must honor both. Humanists who call themselves Christians claim they love Jesus, but Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15). Whoever doesn’t keep His commandments and claims to love Him is a liar (I John 2:3,4; 5:2,3), and these commandments aren’t limited to the ten in Exodus 20, because sorcery was listed with a few of the original ten (Rev. 22:14,15). The commandments to love God and to love other humans is broad enough in meaning to cover all types of sin. You’re not saved if you’re involved in sexual immorality, idolatry, theft, drunkenness, extortion, witchcraft, hatred, strife, envy, wrath, sedition, heresy, murder, revelry, faithlessness, abominations, telling lies, or anything else contrary to righteousness (I Cor. 6:9,10; Gal. 5:19-21; I Tim. 1:9,10; Rev. 21:8). Many churchgoers will mention their good works on their judgment day, only to be condemned for their bad works (Matt. 7:21-23). “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:16)
Being a Christian doesn’t require perfection, for even Peter remained an apostle after thrice denying Jesus (Matt. 26:69-75), but it does require true remorse for sin and an effort to please God. People who use imperfection as a license to sin are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Tim. 3:4,5). One problem these fakes have is compromising their loyalty to God for the sake of entertainment. Watching television is a great example. While there’s nothing wrong with watching the news, or most sports, game shows and educational programs for that matter, how much else on TV is decent? We should “set no wicked thing before [our] eyes” (Ps. 101:3), and that no doubt applies to something on TV involving fornication, drunkenness, drug use or violence, purely for entertainment. You may want to protest, “Well, every TV show and movie has at least a little of that.” If so, you’ve proved my point. Finding nothing decent to watch is no justification for watching something indecent. But full commitment to God is unthinkable for many if it means giving up TV, which keeps getting worse with time. There used to be such respect for decency that TV shows overreacted by showing married couples getting in separate beds at night; now it’s common to see unmarried couples engaged in sexual activity on TV. Music is getting worse too. Rock bands in the past were alleged to give satanic messages when their records were played backwards, but now satanic messages are among all types of wicked lyrics that can be clearly heard.
As the world increases in moral corruption, churchgoers continue to go along with it. Pop quiz: Is it appropriate for women to have on nothing but underwear in public? Now ask yourself how bikinis are any different than bras and panties. This underwear-dubbed-swimwear shocked the world when it appeared in France in 1947, and it was named after the Bikini atoll because of the notorious atom-bomb test there the year before. Now that bikinis have lost their notoriety, “Christian” women wear them and the “Christian” men who lust over their half-naked bodies often claim they are just admiring the beauty of God’s creation. They should read about the first man and woman covering their naked bodies (Gen. 3:7), or about what happened when David watched a women bathe (II Sam. 11:2-4). Christians have no business “admiring” the body of someone they’re not married to, whether that so-called admiration is by looking or touching. They should also make sure their own bodies aren’t lusted over by covering themselves in public. Even one-piece swimsuits are inappropriate. They’re more revealing than miniskirts and the shorts that are no longer, which churchgoing women these days have taken a liking to. Men are no exception and should wear a shirt in public. This isn’t some radical new doctrine. It comes from the Bible, an unchanging book.
Christians are playing a dangerous game when they modify their behavior to adapt to a changing world that keeps getting farther away from God. Many think they have nothing to worry about because they’ve heard that once they are saved they will always be saved. The Bible says otherwise. “When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity…he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered.” (Ezk. 3:20) This happened to Solomon (I Kings 11:1-11), the wisest man in the Bible and one of its authors, so it can happen to anyone. He would have gone to Heaven had he died before turning his back on God, but instead he died in sin and was excluded from the 11th chapter of Hebrews with the Old Testament saints who “all died in faith” (Heb. 11:13). Though his father David also turned from God (II Sam. 11:2-4, 14-17), he repented and was included in this chapter (Heb. 11:32). “Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.” (I Kings 11:6) Paul referred to saved souls as branches grafted into an olive tree (Rom. 11:16-24) that would stay on the tree “if [they] continue[d] in [their] goodness: otherwise [they would] be cut off” (v. 22). “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.” (v.23) The righteous can be cut off (lose their salvation), but “if” they return to righteousness, they can “again” have salvation. This metaphor is about unbelieving Jews being cut off while believing Gentiles (non-Jews) are grafted in (Rom. 11:13-17), but Gentiles can be cut off just as Jews were (Rom. 11:20,21). The message is no different for Gentiles.
A Christian’s fate won’t be sealed before death, because only “he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 10:22). Many people now living in sin were once living for God, and if you believe in the always-saved doctrine, you’d say they were never saved to begin with. There’s no doubt that some churchgoers have never taken God seriously, but what about the ones who were once more righteous and sincere about serving God than you currently are? They do exist, so you’re being dishonest if you claim not one of them was ever more faithful than you are. And if someone who was more devoted to God than you are was not saved then, how do you know you’re saved now? Everyone’s salvation is questionable under your doctrine, so how can you tell people they will always be saved when neither you nor they know if they’re even saved at the moment? That’s the kind of thing that could give them a false sense of security and lead them down the wrong path after having been on the right path. The problem is made worse when churches become accepting of ungodly behaviors to appeal to more people. There’s no point in growing the congregation if newcomers don’t hear the truth.
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