On Being Taken

John David Clark, Sr. - December, 1988

I just heard the report of another one. Yet another minister has led his congregation down the path of immorality. By now it shouldn't, perhaps, but it still does cause me to shake my head in disbelief when it happens. Why would people who are seeking the Lord follow the lead of a man overcome with a spirit of lust? Isn't sin obvious? Doesn't God's commandment to abstain from fornication speak for itself? When things such as this happen, it demonstrates the depth of meaning in the phrase, "children of God." For all our much-vaunted creeds and claims of the knowledge of God, most of us who boast of belonging to the household of faith are still gullible toddlers, easily entertained and easily pacified. Then, let the children be taught! Let it be spoken to them plainly and forcefully:

YOU MUST LIVE A GODLY LIFE OR YOU WILL BE DAMNED ETERNALLY.

IF ANY MAN CLAIMS AUTHORITY FROM GOD

TO TEACH IMMORALITY TO GOD'S CHURCH, HE IS A LIAR.

One would think that it would not even be necessary to make such a statement to those who belong to Jesus, but recent events have caused me to think that perhaps they need to be told that unchangeable truth more than any other group of people.

Pause for a moment now. Think on the principal doctrines that are taught by Christian ministers. How many of them, in one way or another, find a way to excuse ungodly living as acceptable with God? The chief culprit, of course, is the ancient heresy which holds that God will not send his own children to eternal torment. The apostle Peter thought differently. Indeed, he taught that, at the judgment, it would be better never to have been converted to Christ than to be converted and then fall away. These are his words: "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them" (2 Pet. 2:20-21).

A morally upright life in Christ is the one requirement of those who would be saved from the otherwise inescapable wrath of God. Any man who, by any means, leads the children of God to believe otherwise is a liar, and the love of God is not in him. Praises to God in the absence of a holy life amount to little more than flattery, and Jesus never was, and never will be, desirous of flattery of men. He gave us ample warning, in clear, unmistakable words. "Not every one that saith unto me, `Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Mt. 7:21).

"Be ye therefore followers of God," Paul wrote, "as dear children and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God. . . . But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of god upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them." (Eph. 5:1-7).

I know of one instance in which the apostle John's famous words, "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" were used by a man to lure a woman to himself. I wonder why that man didn't court that woman with the verse that reads "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God? Not romantic enough, I guess. Or an even better Scripture for that particular lady to have heard would have been Paul's instruction to one young believer, "Neither be partaker of other men's sins. Keep thyself pure." It is the pastor's responsibility to prepare the flock to do spiritual battle with the deceivers of their time, but what if the deceivers are the pastors?

Aware as I am of the possibility that, being a frail human, I too could be deceived and fall victim to the deceitful spirits of this age, I have already warned the precious saints for whom I am God's servant that regardless of what anyone says, even their pastor, they must never disgrace the name of Jesus by committing an immoral act. I told them recently, if I ever wander so far from Christ that I begin to live an ungodly life, or teach that an immoral act might benefit their spiritual well-being, I pray God that they will still have enough love, courage, and good sense in Christ to reprove me and help deliver me from the pit. It might help a wayward, aggressive minister if one of our good sisters in the Lord would give him a holy slap in the face.

The ministers who have taken their flocks with them into immorality have all had to find a way first to overcome the saints' innate negative reaction to sin. I saw how this was done a few years ago, while watching a nature program on an educational television channel. There is a spider whose natural color resembles a flower. This spider hunts by climbing a sprig of grass or some other tall stem. There at the top of that stem he leans back and spreads his eight spindly legs wide, and waits. I watched as an unsuspecting wasp came and landed upon the deadly spider’s chest, thinking that he was safely resting on a lovely flower. The beautiful spider then very slowly brought in his outstretched arms around his unsuspecting victim, so slowly that even the wasp didn't notice. At last, when the spider had the wasp firmly in his grasp, the quick-working poison was injected, and the spider had his meal. But the astonishing thing, the element of this little scene from nature that so awed me was that the wasp never even wiggled! By the time he realized that he was in a trap, the poison had already taken its toll on his muscles. The hapless wasp spent his last moments of life helplessly peering directly into the eyes of his most feared enemy. I stared at the scene, waiting for the wasp to show some form of resistance, waiting for a life-and-death struggle to begin. It never came. The struggle for the wasp's life actually began the moment he settled upon the lovely, hungry spider, but the wasp didn't know until it was too late that a battle was even being waged.

Just as small flying creatures are attracted to the deadly, but lovely colored spider, God's saints are attracted to those who have an appearance of godliness. Many today are resting upon the breasts of brilliant, articulate ministers, who do not have the holy Ghost, or loud, unlearned ministers, whose doctrines are slowly wrapping the unsuspecting child of God in a deadly embrace, where wrong seems right and sin doesn't seem so bad after all, where the Spirit's voice grows faint, and the zeal for holiness turns to drowsiness and death. There are saints who sit regularly at the feet of ungodly, but well-respected religious teachers, in whose tongue is "the poison of asps."

I marvel first of all that Spirit-filled people feel obligated to attend Christian worship gatherings at all. Why not gather with the saints of God instead? Why linger upon the spider's breast? Why not resist the evil doctrines that excuse sin, deny the need of the holy Ghost baptism, and a promote membership in churches made by men? Then it strikes me that, like the pitiful wasp, the children of God are no longer are merely lingering. They are caught and, like the pitiful wasp, they no longer resist because they cannot resist. The stupefying poison of the spider has already begun its work.

No doubt, in those final moments of consciousness, the dying wasp realized his fate and terror filled his heart, but there was no movement to show it, no outward expression to indicate his inner fears. And could it be that once-happy, holy Ghost baptized saints who now occupy pews in Christian congregations feel the grieving of the Spirit, but are powerless to express it? Do they yet feel the love of the Father, calling them again to "come out from among them, and be ye separate"? But they do not come out. They can not come out; for they are weakened by the poison of the Spider. The lusts and pride of their teachers are slowly but inexorably leading them into sin, whose only fruit is death. Pray for them. Unmoving, they sit, staring into the eyes of their own killers, quietly listening to the poison as it enters their heart. Realizing--but then numbed. Fearing--but then forgetting. Longing--then having no desire. Do you know of any such? Stir them up! Give them this letter, if nothing else. It may be that they will realize their mistake, and call on the One mighty to save, who has the only antidote there is to the Spider's bite: the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ! Rescue the perishing! Care for the dying! The words of the old hymn spring up like flowers in the garden of the love of God:

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore.
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more.


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