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THE SILENT WAR IN THE CHURCH

A Winnable War We Must Not Ignore.

by Larry Cory

 

THE SILENT WAR IN THE CHURCH
PART 10
THE SILENT WAR IN THE CHURCH WITH THE WORLD
(What or Who is my first love?)

What is meant by the words, "the world"?

     My definition of the "world" system is that it describes those who live as if there is no God and there are no consequences for sin after we die.  If our outlook on life is worldly like this, we can conclude, "eat, and drink," "and be merry" "for tomorrow we die." (I Corinthians 15:32; Luke 12:19)

How can the world outside of the church produce a war in the church?

     Can this worldly outlook invade the church?  It must be able to invade the church, for there are many warnings in the New Testament that we should not let it invade the church.  Here are some of them:

     As Christians, we are to "seek first" God's "kingdom." (Matthew 6:33)  We are to seek after God's eternal riches rather than seek after worldly riches.  Jesus commanded us: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
     But there is a continual temptation to pursue the world's riches.  Paul lost one of his followers because he loved this present world more than he loved God.  "For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. . . . ." (II Timothy 4:10a)
     So, there is a war with the world going on inside of the church.  Jesus told us that we cannot experience what God desires to occur in the church if our hearts are divided between our love for God and our love for the world.  We are not to be half-Christians—which means we are not to be half-worldly.  "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
(Matthew 6:24)
     Jesus called the financially rich church in Laodicea "lukewarm."  "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see." (Revelation 3:15-18)
     We need to realize that the world system is bankrupt and only leads to emptiness.  Seeking after the riches of the world is a dead-end street.  "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. . . ." (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
     The world system can reach its tentacles into the church by tempting us in the church to seek after "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life . . . ." (1 John 2:16, KJV)  Paul gives this instruction to his close follower Timothy.  "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
(II Timothy 2:22)  We are to seek after righteousness and join in fellowship with those who have this same purpose.  Otherwise, we will be one of those who succumb to the world's alluring siren call.  We will become a casualty in the world's silent war in the church.
     If you have already succumbed to the world's enticement, you are not a lost cause.  David gave into temptation with Bathsheba.  Psalm 51 describes his confession to God for that sin.  Here are some other guidelines that can be followed when anyone has fallen into sin through giving in to the world's false promises of happiness.  "Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:5-10) 

How are God's ways different from the ways of the 21st century world?

     The world of the 21st century has become the world of instant gratification in almost every imaginable way.  We want happiness and we want good feelings, and we want them now.  Our world provides us with innumerable ways to get the instant happiness that we crave.  Much of it is available to us through recent advances in technology.  For example, meals do not require long preparation times.  With microwaves and various types of prepared meals, plus fast food restaurants, meals are always easily and quickly available to us.  We do not need to go shopping, for with a few key strokes of a computer, we can have what we desire delivered to our door step.  We do not need to do research at the library for Google or another research web site has done the work for us, and their work is easily and immediately available to us.
     We do not need to have earned and saved up the money to buy some expensive product for there are credit cards that enable us to immediately purchase the product.  If we want to feel good, we do not need to do such things as lovingly and patiently build good relationships or accomplish something of value so we can enjoy the good feelings that come from our good efforts; for immediately available to us are various forms of entertainment, alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, or some other magic pill to give us the good feelings.  We do not need to work hard to gain riches for we can hope for instant riches through winning the lottery or hitting it big in some form of gambling.  We do not need to seek out a member of the opposite sex to whom we can make a lifelong commitment for we have internet pornography and the party life where instant sexual gratification is available.  Self-absorbed lust takes less time than sacrificial love.  We have become, as Paul predicted in II Timothy 3:4, "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."
     Has this life of instant gratification made its way into the church?  Sadly, we know that it has.  God's ways are much different.  God's ways lead to growth in character as we persevere in love for each other.  As biological growth is slow, so spiritual growth is also slow.  It takes time to read, understand, and apply the Bible to our lives.  It takes time to grow into a mature believer.  It takes time to build marriages that celebrate 50-year anniversaries.
     Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6)  Growth in righteous character is slow, but it leads to true happiness—being "filled."  God promises that a life of trusting in Him will be rewarded, but it means that we seek our happiness in a relationship with Him and not in the instant but empty solutions of the world.  A life of obeying and trusting Him involves patience, persevering in love for others, and placing giving to others above getting from them.  God's ways do not give us instant pleasure, but they do give us deep joy.  The narrow road leads to life, while the broad road leads to the types of emptiness, dysfunction, division, destroyed relationships, and personal disasters that we see all around us.

In what other ways can the world system produce a war in the church?

     Another part of the world system is the constant attack on the church and on Christians by the ungodly.  Their attacks come from every quarter. They belittle the church and our beliefs whenever they have the opportunity.  Those who attack the church are news commentators, professors, school teachers, newspaper reporters, authors, comedians, moviemakers, co-workers, and more—there are many who ridicule our beliefs and mock us.  They attack us in many ways.  They say our beliefs are unscientific, bigoted, hypocritical, out-of-date, narrow, childish, delusional, and more.  They portray Christianity as boring and the very opposite of the abundant life.  Puritans and Christians have been described in the following way: "They have the haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy."  They attack the church, though they would not want their own lives to be put under such intense scrutiny.

How have the world's philosophies infiltrated the church?

     What is politically correct outside of the church can seep into the church and begin to determine what is politically correct in the church.  This creates a silent war within our churches that pits what is Biblically correct against what is politically correct.  So, each new philosophy that gains popularity in the culture can, in many ways, gain access within our churches, so that the new philosophy becomes a threat to replace the teachings of Scripture.  If we want to be accepted in our culture, we can adjust our teachings in our churches so that our teachings are more like what is acceptable in the world outside of the churches.  Liberal churches are those who allowed modern-day philosophies to become the authoritative teaching of their churches.  The more recent emerging church movement is another example of this type of trend.
     Modern-day philosophers are seeking to replace God's absolutes with man's relativism.  They also tell us that all beliefs are to be tolerated but our Christian beliefs.  Laws are being passed that force non-Christian morality and beliefs on the church.  And some of those beliefs are also leaking into the church.  We need to recognize it when darkness, lies, and false teaching begin to make their way into the church; and we need to strongly and courageously oppose them.  Every false branch of Christianity that started within the church needed to be opposed when it was in its earliest stages.  So, we need to oppose error when it first enters the church, rather than waiting until it has gained a strong foothold in the church.  Some false teachings were rooted out early, but some teachings got too deeply rooted in the church before they were recognized as being the dangerous and destructive teachings that they were.  Religious liberalism, for example, has taken whole denominations away from their original Biblical foundations.  This is part of the silent war in the church.
     If we are expecting church life to be fairytale-like—where everybody lives happily ever after—we have a naive view of the war that we are all involved in.  We are in a war, and we will be in a war until Jesus returns.  That is why Peter says, "arm yourselves." (I Pet. 4:1)  We need to "arm" ourselves because we are in a war.  Some of the Christian leaders that we admire, like Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Bunyan, and Charles Spurgeon did not have easy lives—where everyone appreciated them.  They were Christian warriors who triumphed against every manner of opposition.  Part of the battle they faced (and we face) was with the world system that they lived within.
     As we fight in this very real war, we need to remember that it is not people that we are at war with, for behind the people who attack us is our real enemy.  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12)  And, we also need to remember that we are to fight in this war, not by retaliating in the same way that we are attacked, but we fight with love, truth, faith, and hope.

How has the world attempted to replace the mission of the church?

     The church has been commissioned by God to reach out to the needs of the world.  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)  "learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:17)  In our modern-day world, the government has taken over that role.  As a result of the government helping the needy in our society, we in the church can feel that this part of God's role for the church is no longer needed.  So, the first problem with this is that we in the church can let the government do it.  As a result the needy are not introduced to Christ's love but are having their needs met through the government.
     A second problem is that the government tends to reward bad behavior.  For example, it can reward those who live together out of wed-lock; it can reward sexual immorality by providing abortions; and it can reward those who do not work.  "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat." (II Thessalonians 3:10)  A third problem is that the government uses our money to help the needy.  And the government requires a very expensive bureaucracy to give out this money.
     We need to resist the temptation to let the world do the job of the church, and reach out to the needy in Christ's love.  Many do not let the government do it and do reach out to the needy in our society through such ministries as gospel missions, food banks, and medical missions.

Conclusion:

     Yes, there is a silent war in the church with the world system.  Are we winning or losing this war?  If we are lukewarm in our Christian lives because our love is divided between our love for worldly riches and our love for Jesus Christ, we are losing.  We are losing if the world's perspective on life has infiltrated into the church.  On the other hand, we are winning if our greatest riches come from knowing God and serving Him.  The Bible is clear, God does not want part of our lives, but He wants all of our lives.  "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'" (Matthew 16:24)
     The Bible is also clear, our perspective on what is truth is not to be formed by the world system but by the Bible.  "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2)  To win the silent war with the world, we need to believe and recognize that what Jesus offers is the greatest riches and what He taught us is true.  "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:3-4)

The Silent War In The Church

Table of Contents and Brief Intro Table of Contents
Introduction Introduction
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 1 Part 1a
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 2 Part 1b
The Silent War between Churches Part 2
The Silent War with Satan and his Demons Part 3
The Silent War can be Won by God's Love in us Part 4
The Silent War can be like the Wars in the World Part 5
The Silent War between a False and Coerced Unity and a True Unity Part 6
An Essential Requirement Needed for Ending the Silent War Between Christians Part 7
The Silent War Caused by Turning the Church into the Kingdom of Man and not the Kingdom of God Part 8
The Silent War inside of Each Christian Part 9
The Silent War in the Church with the World Part 10
The Silent War Over Divisive Issues Part 11
The Silent War caused by a Mysterious Invading Army Part 12
The Silent War Caused by Seeking Worldly Success Part 13
The Silent War Always Results in Persecution Part 14
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Divide Part 15
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Cause Divisions Part 16
The Silent War Caused by the Church or a Church Dividing over an Important Issue Part 17
When the Church is Winning - Part 1 Part 18a
When the Church is Winning - Part 2 Part 18a
The Bible's Description of Victorious Soldiers in the Silent War Part 19
How Victory in the Silent War can Lead to Revival in the Church Part 20
Conclusion Conclusion
Addendum: The Silent War caused by "the onlys" "The Onlys"
Addendum: A Pastor's Authority by Ray Stedman A Pastor's Authority
Addendum: Galatians 6:1-3 (my commentary on these verses) Galatians 6:1-3
Addendum: John Wesley's sermon at George Whitefield's funeral George Whitefield