ESV - 4 Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy; they do violence to the law.
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As I see it we have church leaders that go wrong in two ways. On the one hand they do not discipline people in the church that are living in out and out sin. On the other hand, they become tyrants instead of shepards, and demand strict obedience to their own letter of the law. Almost every church split can be traced to one or the other. I have been so unfortunate to have been in two church splits. It practically ruined my older two children from ever going back to church. My two sons had jobs that sometimes came in conflict with church activities, and the pastor demanded that they be at these activities. That did not go over too well with my sons. I do realize that church leaders have to keep some kind of balance, but it is so easy to fall into one camp or the other. The bible says women in the church are to dress modestly, but in order to keep the sheep as far from the fence as possible, the church leaders tell the people what they have to wear in detail. Once these things start there is no end. Instead of just preaching the word of God, they start telling the people how much they have to give, how they dress, and what they can and cannot do outside of church. I read where one church demanded that the people had to bring their tax return to the church so they could tell them how much they had to give to the church. The problem becomes that some people love this and so these people want to follow a leader that demands his own extrabiblical rules. It usually leads to pride and selfrighteousness. "Our church does not allow that so I am sure our church is better than your church." Some go so far that they become cults. Unless you are in the leadership of the church, you cannot have any input at all. You either follow the leader or you are living in sin. I have seen both ways. There have been people in the church that were stealing from others through their business, and it was so known, but the church would not do anything. And then, there are those in church leadership that are living in such great sin that they cannot even be called christian at all. I read a while back that people are leaving there churches by the hundreds of thousands, and most are really searching for the truth. Many are starting bible studies in their homes. What else can you do when the church leadership either puts people in bondage, or goes so far the other way that sin is really not sin anymore? I blame some of the way our country is going on the church. If the church goes bad, the country is sure to follow. If we don't hold to what the bible says for faith and practice, then we are going to follow something else. The liberals twist scripture to make it "more relevant to today". The conservatives have lost their first love, and want strict obedience to the letter of the law but have no compassion. It becomes oppressive without any freedom at all. In the end people are either run out of their church for not following the spiritual guru, or the sin in the church is so bad that it cannot be called a church. And after I have said all of this I have to admit that without much bible study and prayer we will all go wrong one way or the other. Most christians do not read their bibles and so will follow the leader. Most people are sheep, and do follow. It takes something to happen in the church to see the hypocrisy of one side or the other. None of us are perfect though, and we do have to make some allowances. It would be better if we all had all the truth, but we do not. But there are absolutes in the bible that we cannot ignore. What the bible says is sin is sin. Where the bible gives no hard and fast rule, it is between the person and the Lord. When the traditions of the churh beome more valued than biblical truth, we are in trouble. This is all my own opinion. I am sure others will have theirs..
I believe Matthew 18:15-17 would apply here therefore my suggestion is to: 1. Meet with the leader privately to discuss the issues. Hopefully that will be all that is necessary as one or the other of you will repent or truth will be revealed that will lead to healing. 2. If step one does not resolve the situation then take a church brother or preferably two with you and meet again with the leader. 3. If there is still no repentance or resolution, bring the matter before the entire church. Finally, do all the above in Love and harmony with caring being the motivator.
I believe the most important thing that ordinary people can do is PRAY! 1. Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sins and lead them to confess their sins and then repent of them. 2. Pray for a prevailing Spirit of repentance to be present in their lives to keep their relationship with God pure and holy. 3. Pray for their spiritual protection from the Evil One - Satan. Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked to sift him as wheat. But Jesus prayed for Peter. Although Peter stumbled by denying he knew Jesus, he acknowledged his sin and was restored and re-commissioned by Jesus. 4. Ask God to tell you who should confront them about their sin. If God says it is you, then follow the guidelines in Matthew 18: 15-17 All spiritual leaders in our churches are under attack from our enemy Satan. His mission is to knock out the shepherds so the sheep will scatter and the church will lose its effectiveness for God's purposes. We are so quick to sit in judgment on our church leaders when they get tricked and trapped by the enemy and succumb to sin. As the laity of the church we should tear our robes, put ashes on our heads, mourn, fast and pray for these leaders until God brings deliverance, healing and holiness back to the church. Victory over temptation and sin starts with each lay Christian in the church. As more and more lay people live as overcomers, filled with the Holy Spirit, revival will come to that local church. As revival comes, the Spiritual protection and strength that comes with it will enable our leaders to stand and be the holy shepherds that God called them to be. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!
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