We have heard it all before—we have read it all before—we are so familiar with it all—and then, when it happens, we are unprepared, astonished, dumbfounded and dismayed, and far too often, we react in just the wrong way.
I’m talking about Satan’s attacks and his evil devices, as well as our lack of discernment and closeness to God.
In the past, many fell for the Devil’s wrong teachings, which he brought into the Church of God through his human instruments. Unsuspecting and gullible Church “members” forsook the truth and followed errors. After all, how could those gifted and “friendly” ministers teach them anything wrong? So they listened to them and began to believe them—to their own hurt.
Others became upset about imagined or real offenses with their brethren. They did not realize that Satan was getting to them, and that God allowed this to see how strong they were to resist Satan and to stick to the truth and to the One who has all truth and inspires His TRUE servants to teach it in season and out of season. Many chose wrongly, left God’s true Church—the pillar and ground of the truth—and where are they today? Sadly, it is as if they had disappeared from the face of the earth.
Some few recognized the error of their way, repented and returned to the Body of Christ. When this happens, there is joy in heaven! Sadly, such right human conduct does not happen very often.
We can feel so righteous, so superior to others, so holy, just and good, that we can get offended if someone “less holy than us” makes mistakes or transgresses against us. Rather than repenting of our own sin of self-righteousness (which Herbert Armstrong described as the worst of all sins), tolerating and forgiving the other person’s weakness or shortcoming, we become indignant and think that we need to tell the whole world.
And when the “situation” is not “corrected” right away and in the manner in which we desire it, we leave God’s Church with anger and with a bad attitude. In all of this, we have been refusing to see the beam in our eye, while focusing solely on the imagined or real splinters in the eyes of our brethren. The terrible sin of self-righteousness and self-aggrandizement has won, and Satan delights in and celebrates his victory.
It is especially devastating and abominable when any one of us influences others to leave God’s Church with us. Certainly, everyone is responsible for his or her own decisions and ultimate fate, but woe unto anyone of us if we cause just one other person who believes in Christ to stumble. Christ said it would be better for us if a millstone were hung around our neck, and we were drowned in the depth of the sea!
Yes, offenses must come—it is impossible that they don’t—but they had better not come through us. Denying or justifying our bad influence on others (through what we say or what we do) will not save us in the Day of Judgment.
Sometimes people can get so frustrated with their lives and become so depressed that they face the real possibility of committing the unpardonable sin. They don’t seem to care enough to avoid this because they just want to be “freed” from their present distress. This very shortsighted approach is of course terribly dangerous and ungodly, and it is extremely foolish as well.
When we leave God’s Church, we are cutting ourselves off from the vine—Jesus Christ, the Head of the Body. We will wither away and unless there is true godly repentance, we will ultimately be thrown into the fire to be burned up.
Thinking that we can solve or ignore our personal problems by just changing church organizations (even within the Body of Christ) is also useless and futile, because our problems will accompany us, no matter where we go. Unless we are willing to focus on, face and overcome OUR problems—not the problems of others—we are and will continue to be easy targets of Satan’s craftiness and deception.
We have heard the saying: “Never give up! Never surrender!” Far too many have done this. They have given in to Satan and his evil devices. Don’t you become one of his easy targets!