There are two groups of church people who break my heart.

The first, those people who pretend to follow Jesus. The other group contains people who truly said “Yes” to Jesus, but for any of a number of reasons they slid back into human ways.

Both sense that emptiness that flows from denying the source of joy and purpose in life. So such people turn to religion. (Why they do not turn to Jesus still confounds my brain.)

These people attend Sunday gatherings. They join study groups to learn correct doctrine. They march against social sins. They condemn their political leaders as secretly satanists or communists or papists. They sit on committees for their denomination. They probably sing in the choir and teach Sunday School. Any religious activity offered they consume with an enviable vigour. They want to fill the gaping hollow in their soul, but mostly they want people around them to praise them for their religious loyalty.

To those who slid back into old ways, Jesus says, “However, I have this against you: The love you had at first is gone. Remember how far you have fallen. Return to me and change the way you think and act, and do what you did at first. I will come to you and take your lamp stand from its place if you don’t change” (Revelation 2:4-5 God’s Word).

To those who wear the costume of holiness without Jesus in control, God spoke through Peter, “So change the way you think and act, and turn {to God} to have your sins removed. Then times will come when the Lord will refresh you. He will send you Jesus, whom he has appointed to be the Christ” (Acts 3:19-20 God’s Word).

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To true disciples Paraclete told Paul to say, “You must understand this: In the last days there will be violent periods of time. People will be selfish and love money. They will brag, be arrogant, and use abusive language. They will curse their parents, show no gratitude, have no respect for what is holy, and lack normal affection for their families. They will refuse to make peace with anyone. They will be slanderous, lack self-control, be brutal, and have no love for what is good. They will be traitors. They will be reckless and conceited. They will love pleasure rather than God. They will appear to have a godly life, but they will not let its power change them. Stay away from such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 God’s Word). It doesn’t mean abandon the sheep who must be brought into the fold, but does say stay away from religion that allows, or even promotes, such evil acts, even if the religious perversion is done in the name of Jesus!

Tough words? For lukewarmers, yes. For those living first love faith, no.

“Don’t be sad because the joy you have in the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b God’s Word).

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