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Last month‚Äôs e-letter was sent out in response to the way many churches malign their leaders over small and trivial matters such as carpet color or the songs sung during worship. Far too many sheep seem to think their pastors are like Ahab, who sold himself to evil. There is a massive difference between evil and carpet color. I was not intending last month‚Äôs e-letter to be specifically applied to some of those national ministries that have recently fallen.
There is no gift or anointing that is above Scripture, and yes, there are sins that require confrontation. However, our response to the moral decay we are witnessing in the Body of Christ today must include God‚Äôs will, His timing and His heart both for the person and for the gift. In the quagmire of all of this, there are times to act, times to speak up, times to keep quiet and times to step back and allow God to bring justice Himself. Moses stepped back, and God acted with Korah (Numbers 16). Peter took one step forward by addressing the sin and then let God do the rest with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). Knowing God‚Äôs ways is essential to knowing the type of action to take with any sin.
As sin continues to abound and accelerate, the understanding of this subject will become more and more important. Discerning holiness, God‚Äôs justice and the consequences of sin is vital and will become a distinction between those who desire righteousness as a way of life and those who simply view it as an idea or concept.
We are experiencing a massive decline in the moral and ethical fiber of the Western Church today. Sin management has become the norm, and the apostolic exhortation that demands deep sorrow over sin as evidence of repentance has seemingly been discarded as ‚Äúlacking in grace.‚ÄĚ Thus pastors who divorce their wives, commit adultery with one or more women, father illegitimate children, view porn, visit prostitutes and secretly record video of women in skirts on escalators and stairways are allowed to remain in ministry, or within a few months are rushed back into ministry. All of this is allowed because of the supposed need for their incredible anointing.
In some cases, the church body actually stood to applaud the minister after his or her confession. Interviews with some of the parishioners were surprising in that they seemed to think the humanness of their leader somehow alleviated the weight of their own sin. So sin in the flock now becomes justified by sin in the pulpit.
‚ÄėDidn‚Äôt I heal in Your name . . . ?‚Äô
I am now convinced that if we haven‚Äôt already seen it, we soon will see Matthew 7 played out in the lives of many who heal, prophesy and cast out demons. Blindly, the Body of Christ will accept them as anointed leaders ‚ÄĒ even though, according to this passage, these men and women one day will not be allowed to enter the gates of Heaven.
Evidently, Jesus did not consider signs and wonders to be proof of ministry fruitfulness. If signs and wonders were the litmus test for righteousness in ministries, how would we be able to distinguish between the Holy and the profane ‚ÄĒ as healings, prophecy and miracles are seen in both?
‚ÄėWhat do You mean You don‚Äôt know me?‚Äô
Perhaps even more bizarre is that those who did these signs and wonders written about in Matthew 7:20‚Äď23 were actually surprised when they were not allowed to enter Heaven. Clearly, they believed that the miracles they performed were more important than intimacy with God, which would have transformed them and shown them the Father‚Äôs heart in the matter. I am afraid that many of those in ministry today believe that signs and wonders are God‚Äôs endorsement of their ministries and lifestyles. Instead, we must ask the difficult question: ‚ÄúIf signs and wonders are an endorsement of God on a ministry, how could Matthew 7 be true?‚ÄĚ
As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 8:11, ‚ÄúBecause the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.‚ÄĚ In other words, the apparent delay in judgment is taken to mean God condones their sin.
Judging the fruit versus the heart
Scripture commands us to test the fruit, not the motivation of the heart. Judging the heart is for God and God alone (Romans 14:12). He is the only One who knows our thoughts and intentions.
A friend of mine, Sid Molenaar, recently reminded me, ‚ÄúIt is dangerous to follow any ministry without weighing and testing that ministry.‚ÄĚ Yes, God‚Äôs anointed men and women are capable of stumbling, and yes, I believe the Bible directs us not to ‚Äútouch‚ÄĚ them in a harmful way, verbally or otherwise; however, like most things in life, this, too, must be balanced. You might remember that in the moment when David could have killed Saul in the cave, he chose not to (1 Samuel 24). That does not mean David did not recognize Saul‚Äôs problems, and one could assume they were discussed that day in the confines of the cave.
What fruit should we look for?
Healings, miracles, signs and wonders are not fruit; they are gifts, and that being the case, what fruit are we to look for in any ministry?
These nine points are found in Galatians 5 and are noted as fruit of the Spirit. All deeply spiritual people will have fruit that is spiritual. Why? Because thorns produce thorns and grapes produce grapes. That which is Spirit will always have spiritual fruit.
There must be a change in the moral fiber of the Church, because the culture is not to blame for the condition of the Church, but the Church is to blame for the condition of the culture. When the Church actually begins to behave like the Body of Christ, we will see the fruit of that ‚ÄĒ not only in our pastors and ministers but also in our judicial systems and in our politicians. In other words, the culture will reflect the Church‚Äôs passion for Jesus