Sir Robert Anderson, was called the “Secret Service Theologian!” Anderson’s skills of detective work are well known, and he applied those skills in the discharge of his duties at Scotland Yard. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his conclusions regarding Daniel’s seventieth week, in his book “The Coming Prince” his words of advice and his methodology are beyond reproach. As a very able detective, Anderson states, in Chap. 9 of The Coming Prince, that, “The trustworthiness of witnesses is tested, not by the amount of truth their evidence contains, but by the absence of mistakes. A single glaring error may serve to discredit testimony which seemed of the highest worth.”
Anderson was applying this to the veracity of Scripture, but it can be equally applied to the veracity of our life as Christ witnesses. The validity of our testimony is directly related to our ability to show forth the truth of Jesus’ words in our life, to a watching world. It is this ability to walk as Jesus walked that made the Christian life so desirable to those early believers who witnessed the Christian life being lived with power to overcome the world and the flesh. Where do we see that exhibition of power today? The Church today has exchanged their testimony of power for an exhibition of theatrics and salesmanship, and empty promises of a better life. As the testimony of authentic Christianity has been running a deeper and deeper deficit, the slack has been picked up by religious salesmen who gloss over the true value of a holy life with the perceived value of a pretty building and a clever speech. But, when we compare the manufactured evidence and false witnesses with the genuine truth as forcefully presented in the Bible, the glaring errors become apparent. When the trustworthiness of these false witnesses is tested, even though their words contain ever so much truth the single glaring error of their life discredits their pretense of holiness. The mountain of truth they profess means nothing when their foundation is discovered to be shifting sand.
What is the glaring error that destroys all their contrived words of truth? Why do we hear so much about Christian’s not being able to judge others within the Church? Is there really value in the statement that if we haven’t experienced a certain thing we can’t judge it? Is there any real value in the Biblical statement that you can tell a tree by the fruit it bears? Really what value is the Bible if it cannot be used as a mirror to reflect the proper kind of life to be lived? What value is the Bible if it cannot be used as a mirror to reflect the proper kind of life of our brothers and sisters who say they share a common belief? What power did the testimony of the Apostles have apart from their separated life and holy living that was laid wide open for the investigation of any who might inquire? What would inquiry discover of the lives of the indulgent priest of today’s Protestant Church? There is no modesty of means of either the leaders or the layman. Today there is no Gospel for the poor; it is the Gospel for the rich. This is the age of the Laodicean Church and we have learned all our history lessons well. All the traditions of the Elders, and all of their vast excuses and justifications for having and doing all things as the world, have rolled downhill to our generation, and in these last days it is our responsibility to deal with it, and the glaring errors are apparent and many. But, there is this problem, it seems there is this code of silence in the whole broad spectrum of Christianity today that absolutely refuses to acknowledge, not to even mention dealing with, the problem.
What is the glaring error that destroys our testimony? It is the error of our life becoming indistinguishable from the world around us. The Church today has to resort to theatrics, celebrity appearances, worldly management skills, extreme marketing techniques, and ambiance to convince their audience that they are authentic Christians, when every aspect of what they project speaks just the opposite. Their method, means, and final results all signify that the world is very much at home with the Church, regardless that it uses a special holy language. Of course, the Church denies all of this, but if the two witnesses of our eyes and ears are not enough to convict us, then the statistics gathered by one of its own, George Barna, should do the trick. His data shows that the world and the Church have a close adulterous relationship. The Church is in full blown denial. The love affair is so intrenched that it all seems, quite natural.
Is it any surprise that so much stress is laid on the verses of the Bible dealing with “judging?” It doesn’t matter that the Bible repeatedly admonishes Believers to judge one another righteously, to discern false doctrine, and to promote allegiance to Christ by rooting out “error” from our midst. When error is the rule of the day then discernment and judging become very awkward to apply, and costly to practice. The Biblical statement that you can “judge a tree by its fruit” is still valid today even though we see nearly no fruit being produced. The produce of the institutional church consists of thorns and briars. A good “program” does not constitute good fruit, only Godly, holy, separated lives will do, the rest is only chaff and stubble. We can judge! We can mirror our life against the life of Jesus. We can judge our own life first, then search out those who desire a sanctified life without leaven or excuses, and judge each other. Apart from a holy, sanctified, and separated life there is no testimony of power in Jesus, there is no true witness to a world who sees our corrupt compromises; we are rightly called liars. If we judge ourselves, we will not be judged, by men or God.
Lies become entrenched, and prying them loose is only accomplished at great risk to the one doing the prying. The truth is not covered by stones, it is covered by boulders, and only a long lever and a sturdy fulcrum can break it free. The Spirit of God is that lever, and the Word is the fulcrum on which it turns. The critical application and constant effort is the mission of the true believer in this age of falseness and flattery. This was the mission to the Apostles and it is our mission, to expose the glaring error and offer the only solution, The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
What does, our sinful lifestyle and repeated failures, which is no less than a faulty testimony, reveal to a watching world?
1. That we are liars, or
2. That we are deluded.
And, what does our sinful lifestyle reveal to God?
1. That we are liars, and
2. That we are unbelievers and faithless, and
3. That we are false witnesses and give testimony that He is weak and doesn’t keep His word.
This is the reason that it is written that it is better to be “hot or cold” rather than “lukewarm.” We know what it means to be “hot”; it is a life that is on fire for God: separated, without spot or blemish, living a holy and sanctified life. We also know what it means to be “cold”; that is the unbelieving world who, ignorantly or openly, serves Satan. But, to be “lukewarm,” this is to bring suit against God in the court of a pagan world, and declare that He is not able to do the things that He has promised, and your life testifies to the fact, and God, the Creator of the world, is found guilty by the world, because of you. It would be better for you to live in unbelief, to be cold rather than lukewarm, rather than accuse God of doing wrong. Will not Hell be that much hotter for him who has denied God by choosing the beautiful lies of Lucifer over the author of life, Jesus?
A full life of perfection means nothing if it ends in failure and our name is blotted out of the Book of Life.
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
A full life of perfection cannot be perfect if the leaven of the world is allowed to exist in some secret corner, and it certainly cannot be perfect if we repeatedly fall back on some antidote verse that reinforces our sin nature. Some will say, “After all, aren’t we all sinners anyway, ?” which appears to be another open door back into the comforts of the world. Others will say, “Didn’t Jesus die for our sins?” And, “Jesus loves nothing better than to forgive sinners!”
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
That newness of life is life without sin. It is the ever growing nearness to Christ by obedience to His demands to separate ourselves from the world and unto Himself. His demands are stringent for sure, His way is narrow, and His gate is strait (difficult).
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because* narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
“And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
The narrow way and the strait gate speak loudly that we are to resist the desires of the flesh, and not covet the things of the world. This world that surrounds us 24/7 is the very thing that seeks our life, to destroy us.
“Now Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.”
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
We are only kidding ourselves if we believe that the world is not that unclean thing spoken of by Paul. God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of any tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now that we are outside the garden the Devil says we can eat of any tree in his garden except one, the tree of life, Christ. We gladly gorge ourselves on all that the devil has to offer, and pretend that we have been freed of any restraints to continue to eat freely of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Outside the garden we, Christians, are no longer free to eat of any tree. Our diet has now been severely restricted to one tree only. Unlike the garden where we had liberty, now we must put our head against the post and have that nail driven through our ear that binds us for life to our Master, to live within His confines, and to do His will. It is our only safe haven.
“But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.”
Safety is what we need in our short stay in this world, and it precisely that safety that we think we have, and that we take for granted because of sweet words of false teachers. Anyone who arrives at those pearly gates will not arrive without difficulty, having overcome many trials and test. Every hard won battle leaves its scars, and every scar is like a badge of honor, won for the glory of our Lord.
We must pick carefully the commitments we make, and to whom we make them, for not all that glitters is gold, and not all sweetness makes merry. Separation unto God is not a burden, it is a privilege. Touching not the unclean thing is our reasonable duty, seeing that we are so close to the finish line.
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodicean’s write,
‘This thing says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,* I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘”