How the Arrogance of Professing Christians is Enabling the Wicked (Part 1)
Psalms 40:4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!
1 Corinthians 5:2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
Arrogant people think they know better. Arrogant Christians think they know better than God. Arrogant Christians are enabling evil to hide in the church, even inviting the wicked to come among us. Arrogant Christians are participating in the oppression of the innocent because they believe they have a better “gospel” than God does. Arrogant Christians may not be Christians at all. And I am going to prove it to you right now and in the subsequent articles in this series. Here is Part 1. Stay tuned for part 2 and more.
Arrogant Christians are enabling the wicked by dealing with them in the very same way we are to deal with genuine, contrite, penitent people who feel the weight of their sins, having been broken by the thunderings of God’s unbending Law at Mt. Sinai. That is to say, arrogant Christians are smiling, shedding a tear or two, hugging, and promising the love of God to the impenitent, unbroken wicked man — like the abuser. For example, we hear Christian counselors, pastors, and individuals telling the unrepentant abuser things like:
“Let me put my arm around you. I love you and God loves you. You are destroying [apologizes here for using such a negative word] your life and I can help you if you will just enroll in my treatment plan or accountability group.”
“God values you too much to permit you to continue the way you are going. And so do I. I want to help you become the husband God wants you to be.”
There is soooo much wrong and anti-scriptural in these statements that it is difficult for me to stay focused and on target and just deal with the chief subject at hand right now. (That is why this is going to be a series of articles). Ok, Jeff, stay on target, stay on target….)
Here is the bullseye thesis of this post:
In the vast majority of cases of abuse (sin) in the church, Christians are naively (and often intentionally) failing to differentiate the application of the Law and the Gospel. They are refusing (this is where the arrogance comes in) to acknowledge that God discerns between the righteous and the wicked. Sounding their grand call that “hey, we are all sinners,” these people apply the very same remedy indiscriminately to the impenitent as well as to the broken. That is to say, the abuser is offered the same (or more) promises of God’s love and mercy and grace as his victim is! No one receives the Law! Well, no one except the victim when she decides to confront her abuser and divorce him. Then watch the lightning crack down from Mount Man-Tradition with its Commandments 11 thru 99.
God does not deal with all people in the same way. Hear that? God does not deal with all people in the same way. We are arrogant if we think we know better than He. God gives His terrifying Law to the wicked. He speaks His Gospel to the humble. He commands us to do the same.
Let me give you some examples from God’s Word.
In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul addresses a mixed bag of people in that local church. As a result, you find a real variety of styles in his writing here. Listen to him speak in gospel terms:
For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure — not to put it too severely — to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Corinthians 2:4-8)
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)
I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. (2 Corinthians 7:3-4)
See it? He speaks to them as a loving father. His heart is open to them. He urges and encourages them. These are Gospel words of grace and mercy from the Father.
But then, and in this very same letter, you have Sinai thunderings:
I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ — I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away! — I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:1-6)
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. (2 Corinthians 12:21)
This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them — (2 Corinthians 13:1-2)
What is the difference? Is Paul some kind of dual personality who pats you on the head one minute, then whacks you with his fist the next? No. He is addressing these people exactly as God does. He is giving the gospel to the humble, even chastising them with a fatherly chastisement when they need it, and he is giving the Law to the unrepentant wicked. How do you discern between the two groups? That is to say, how are we to know to whom who we should speak the Law, and to whom we should give the promises of the Gospel? The answer can be given in one word: repentance.
For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it — though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)
In large part the professing Christian church today is arrogantly failing to make this vital distinction. When it comes to abusers, when it comes to dealing with the wicked, church leaders and members and supposedly Christian counselors and authors, are offering God’s gospel love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness to evil men who have no intention of humbling themselves before Him. “Come over here, John**,” says the kindly and popular pastor after the Sunday service. “I understand you are having some troubles at home.” John is a full-blown abuser and has been for decades. John’s wife recently asked the pastor for help. John has been playing the eminent Christian facade all along. “You know, John, I love you just too much to let you ruin your life,” Pastor Nice continues. “And so does God. How about you start coming to our men’s weekly accountability group and let us help you get to root of your issues?”
That isn’t even good gospel, by the way. Why? Because this pastor is completely leaving out Jesus Christ, the necessity of the new birth, and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s heart and mind. He is replacing the gospel with accountability men’s groups or some kind of “treatment plan.” But, we leave that for another post in this series.
What does John need? I hope you can guess by now. John needs the Law of God. John doesn’t need (or get) warm fuzzy love-hugs from Jesus. No, this is what John gets from Jesus:
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.”
They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father — even God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:39-44)
“John, you are of your father the devil. That is why you are who you are, an abuser. You are a murderer. You live and speak a lie. God’s wrath is set upon you.” Too harsh you say? “Hey! If you talk to John that way you will alienate him and he won’t come back to church!” Yep, that’s right. Here is the outcome Jesus experienced:
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:59)
Until and unless John humbles himself before the terror of the Law coming from a holy, holy, holy God pronouncing John cursed (yep, that’s the word. “Cursed” — see Galatians 3:10; Heb 6:8), John receives the Law, remains condemned, and is to be put out from among the people of God. And John will hate you, just as these wicked men hated Jesus with a murderous hatred. If you aren’t hated by the wicked, then you are not following Christ. Do you know anything of this hatred?
But Christians are arrogant today. They know better than God, you see. They are more loving than Jesus — ask them, they will tell you. They give John hugs and empathy and like Jack Horner, commend themselves for being such good boys, even though they just ruined the pie.
And John? John goes home, enabled and empowered in his wickedness, assured that he has all these fools duped by his facade, and unleashes hell upon his wife and children in the name of God.
Pastors, counselors, authors, professors — what will you do on that Day when the Lord of Glory comes and calls you to give account for your malpractice and mistreatment of His sheep? He is coming. What will you have to say for yourselves then?
Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26 ESV)
**John is a fictitious name for a fictitious person.
Posts in this series
Part 1: Is this post.