Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

Some time ago, Rayola and I tried to stick to an exercise schedule. Initially, to learn the routine, we watched an instruction video. It always amused me to hear the instructor, near the end of the tape, sternly admonish, “Do not pick and choose from the program. Follow it to a ‘T’!”

His warning is definitely in tune with human nature because by the time we reached that point, my body was begging my mind to come up with a shortcut. Of course, any such deviance from the normal routine would only serve to cheat myself in the long run.

As Americans, in spite of the evils of big government, we still have the freedom to make personal choices on a daily basis. Let’s take, for example, traffic rules. How many times have you and I chosen to fudge on the speed limit because we were late? In the small towns we have lived in it seems that many of the townsfolk choose to ignore the stop signs. That can prove to be a poor (and devastating) choice as we have already seen.

Needless to say, because we are blessed to have such a varied abundance of food, it takes a whole lot of personal discipline to turn down food that is anything but nutritious. Have you ever watched unsupervised children at a smorgasbord? They happily pick and choose everything and anything that appeals to their taste buds. Of course, you and I have never done any such thing, right?

Then, there are what I call ‘pick and choose’ Christians. These people may fall into any one of the following categories: Sick, Sensual, Subtle, Social or Suffering. It all depends on what they ‘pick and choose’.

Nowadays there are great multitudes of Christians who fall into the ‘sick’ camp. These energetic folks have chosen to abandon the “Old Time Religion” and its tried-and-true traditions for a lighter, less burdensome belief. Choosing to ignore those passages of scripture that are redefined as “negative,” these “enlightened” folks have come up with a more “positive” gospel.

Putting their faith in faith, Christians in this camp are out to acquire all the blessings (especially riches and material gain) they can profess and confess. Ignoring scriptures such as 1 Timothy 6:5-12, they adamantly insist that “gain is godliness.”

Sadly, many well-meaning believers have fallen prey to this “feel good”, self-centered gospel. Lacking fear of God, love for the truth and discernment, they have embraced a sick substitute for the real gospel of Jesus Christ. And, having done so, risk losing what little real faith and truth they may have begun with. To those who have given themselves to this sick belief, Jesus says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:19, 20).

The second group of people I call the ‘sensual’ bunch. These are the people who want to make it to heaven, but who desire to maintain a worldly lifestyle in the meantime. As with the folks in the ‘sick’ camp, they cleverly pick and choose certain scriptures, water them down and use them out of context. These people, while outwardly appearing to be religious, actually are living for the flesh. They refuse to consider Galatians 5:24, which states, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

Sadly, through the years I have met not a few Christian leaders in this camp. Ensnared by their own lust and desire for sensual pleasure, these souls have chosen their rebellious course. To such Jesus declares, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against [thee] with the sword of my mouth” (Revelation 2:16).

The next camp is the one I call “subtle.” Another good word for it could be “slick.” These religious people are those who “wrest the scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (See 2 Peter 3:16) The Bible tells us that these people are unlearned and unstable. This is so because of complacency and rebellion, which is the result of the absence of integrity.

People in this category may very easily become either leaders or members of a cult. Even though scripture may be used, it is twisted in order to gain control over others, usually through fear and guilt. Remember, control is witchcraft.

Twisting scripture to mean other than that which God clearly intends for it to mean is purely Satanic. It is the same tactic he [Satan] used in the Garden of Eden and in the temptation of Christ.

To those who have found themselves succumbing to the subtle snares of the enemy, Jesus admonishes, “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Revelation 3:3).

The fourth group is the “social” people. These are those who, when asked, will tell you, “Yes, I am a Christian.” However, their definition of a “Christian” is far from biblical. The question then is not, “Are you a Christian?” but rather, “Who do you say Jesus Christ is?”

If they should rightly declare that Jesus is God Incarnate, God in the flesh, then the next question is, “What are you doing with Jesus?” Once His identity is established, then we are obligated to choose what we are going to do with Him!

Unfortunately, the “social gospel” attracts scores of people because it offers a religious substitute for the true gospel. People can go through the motions of being “Christian” without ever having to truly commit their lives to Jesus Christ. In the “social” group, one can keep his/her dignity; that is, never admitting to being a wretched sinner in need of the Savior. They can enjoy the company of society’s elite without ever having to pay the price that Christ demands of His true followers.

Those who truly acknowledge that Jesus is God yet opt to remain in their socially acceptable liberal churches, secret societies and lodges risk losing it all. Jesus warns, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:5, 6).

The final group is the suffering group. It is made up of a few believers who have chosen to follow Christ at any cost. These are those who have set their faces to walk on the straight and narrow; to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings. (See Matthew 7:14; Philippians 3:10).

Believers in the suffering group seek only to glorify their Lord and Savior. They do not pick through the Word of God and turn their noses up at those passages that concern love for God, repentance, humility, paying the price, laying down their lives, helping others, good works, faithfulness, self-control, long-suffering, meekness, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, temperance, holiness, judgment, everlasting torment, hell, etc.

These blood-bought believers refuse to compromise with the doctrines of those in the “sick” group, the “sensual” group, the “subtle” group or the “social” group. Rather, they choose to be identified with Christ who was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief …” (Isaiah 53:3a).

How is one to know which group they are in? The answer to that is, who is being exalted in your life? Is it Jesus, or is it self, sin, Satan or someone else? Are you enjoying the liberty that is in Christ, or are you oppressed? Is your personal relationship with Jesus growing every day, or are you under a blanket of confusion, hopelessness, darkness or despair? Does the Holy Spirit have the liberty to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life, or are you caught up with doctrines, creeds or causes?

If you’re not sure right now just which camp you’re in, ask the Lord to show you. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7, 8)

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)

Truly, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!