Complacency In Our Attitude

By Hermanus W. Smeenk

         Paul wrote in II Timothy 3:16 that the scriptures were given by inspiration of God and are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. Therefore, God expects us to read and study the scriptures, to apply the instructions that are written there in our everyday lives, in order that we may benefit from them and grow in grace and knowledge so that we may be conformed to the image of His Son. The problem is, sometimes we allow ourselves to become slack in our bible study and worship of God. We donít appreciate the depths of Satan, how insidiously he tries to mislead us away from God. Letís look at some examples from the bible at the results of Satanís influence in our lives.
 

Satanís Influence

      Letís go to Revelation 3:14-22. Jesus had told John to write what he had to say to the seven eras of Godís Church. For the Laodician era, Jesus Christ describes the Laodicians as spiritually lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. Also, we learn that they think of themselves as spiritually rich and increased with goods, or having much spiritual knowledge and have no need for anything else, that is, they feel they know all of Godís truth as revealed in the scriptures. But what does say about them? Christ tells them that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind,and naked. Spiritually speaking, Christ tells them that they are bereft of knowledge and truth or that they are spiritually poor, theyíre blind and unable to see where they are wrong, and naked or their worldly deeds and attitude are in evidence for all to see. Therefore, Christ advises them they will have to go through a fiery persecution to try them so that they will listen to God and repent of their ways, that they may become spiritually strong and to become righteous in Godís eyes or to buy for themselves white raiments. Satan insinuates its doctrine into this Church in such a way as to blind the Laodicians so they become unable to see that they are being deceived. They allowed Satan to delude them into thinking that they were righteous and obedient to Godís will. In this Church, Satan is also able to instill an air of complacency with the result that the Laodicians were failing to prove that the doctrines they were being taught were not supported by scripture, but like sheep, follow wherever they are being led.

What Was Christ's Judgment of the Church at Ephesus  

    Letís look at another example in Revelation 2:1-5. Jesus first addressed the strong points of the Church of Ephesus, those things that pleased God. But then he rebuked them for leaving their first love. He told them that He was displeased with them for leaving their first love or attitude, and told them to remember and return to their original attitude,or else He would remove their candlestick {a symbol of the churches} from its place. Satan had insinuated an air of complacency in the Church, so that they no longer had the zeal, dedication, and commitment it once exhibited to grow in grace and in righteousness.

What Jesus Meant By First Love

     What about our attitude? Do we remember our first love when we were first called into Godís church? When God called us, He first convicted us of our sins and when He shown us our sins, we were deeply repentant and sought His forgiveness with many tears. God forgave us, and put His Spirit in us and caused us to change from our previous life of sin and following after the lusts of the flesh.Instead, He caused us to want to be obedient to his will. We found that in many instances, it was easy for us to turn from our old ways and walk in obedience to His commandments, statutes, and precepts. It felt good and refreshing to live this new life. At that time, there was nothing we wouldnít do to please God. At the same time, we experienced a hunger for knowledge of Godís way and the doctrines of the Church. There were families in the Church where we attended with whom we struck up a close relationship and from them we obtained many booklets, pamphlets, and church articles. We devoured each one of them, and were immensely disappointed when we found that we had read everything they had. Then we learned about the bible studies presented at Ambassador College and homes of the church elders every Wednesday or Friday evening. We attended as often as we were able, learning more, receiving the spiritual food for which we had developed a strong appetite. It reminded us of one of the things Christ told His disciples, when He said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." This was our first experience in the Church.This was our time of great zeal, dedication, and deep commitment to God. Iím sure God was pleased with our progress at that time. Other brethren in other areas of the country, too, showed their zeal and commitment to God by traveling hundreds of miles one way to be able to attend church services and to fellowship with their brothers and sisters. Many brethren and sisters served others who suffered from various trials or afflictions. We all rejoiced with one another when others new to the Church were baptized. This happened at least once a month in most of the Church areas where we attended. This was the attitude that characterized the Philadelphian era of Godís Church.

What Happened When the Doctrines Were Changed

     When the Worldwide Church of God changed its doctrines, we tried to reconcile the new doctrines with the old doctrines that we were taught. Those of us who left the Worldwide Church recognized the lie of the new doctrines being fed to the church members. We continued to find that there were too many contradictions, and too many unanswered questions. As a result, we rejected the new doctrines, and after much soul searching, left the Church, convinced that the ravenous wolves dressed in sheep's clothing about whom Paul had warned us had come into our midst to destroy the simplicity of Christ that we had been taught and practiced. After coming out of the Worldwide Church we found brethren who held the same doctrines as we had received and began to attend services together. However, there appeared to be a spirit of love missing between the members, a spirit of enjoying one anotherís company and of sincere fellowship. Rather, the main emphasis seemed to be placed on preaching the gospel to the world, rather than fostering Christian love between the members of the church, a love patterned after I Corinthians 13. Not that preaching the gospel was wrong, which it isnít, but it was being done to the detriment of the edification and spiritual growth of the members of the Church. We need to be a part of that Church of God in which its ministers teach the way that results in the edification and continual growth of love between God's children. We must be constantly alert to the fruits of the ministry and their teachings must bear the results of a closer fellowship in the church than any we've ever experienced since first being called into the church.
 

What About Our Attitude

      However, we should realize that this Christian love and fellowship can degrade into selfishness, bitterness, and resentment, and even hate towards one another without the workings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus warned the Church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:24, Satan has depths unknown to any of us. When God created the archangel Lucifer, God created him with great abilities and intellect. In a one-on-one confrontation, we cannot begin to hope to be able to out-think and out-smart Satan. He works to influence our attitude and on our emotions. He can instill a spirit of lethargy in our thinking, so that we would not be in the mood to study the scriptures or to perform our daily prayers to God. When he gets us in that kind of mood, it is almost impossible for us to break it, unless we, in all sincerity, appeal to God and cry out for His strength to overcome that mood. If we donít quickly take action to overcome this lethargy we will quickly deteriorate in our daily devotions and before we know it, find that much time has passed since last we engaged in our daily devotions. Next, weíll begin to experience resentment to the brethren and resent attending services with them, but attend only because we feel obligated to God to fellowship and attend services. However, when we do attend services, we find that we fidget in our seats, look at our watches too often, donít take notes, and find ourselves getting bored with the teachings of the ministers. We are no longer interested in gleaning the spiritual food that we need for our edification and instruction.

Finally...

     The next step is the one applauded by Satan, when we no longer feel the compulsion to attend services or to keep the Sabbath.God exhorts us all to learn the lesson from the churches of Ephesus and Laodicea. If weíve become slack in our daily devotions and donít fight as hard as we once did to overcome the temptations of the flesh, the world, and Satan, itís time that we wake up and take action. We must set aside a time for prayer and fasting and seek the Lord while he may yet be found. No one knows the day or the hour that God will require our soul of us. When that happens, itís too late to turn back to God, to repent and to return to live a righteous life. We must consider each day as our last, and renew our zeal for Godís righteousness and commitment to a life of overcoming the temptations that surround us in our every day lives. We must re-dedicate our life to Godís way and His righteousness so that each one of us may hear Christ say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant, come and inherit the Kingdom of your God."

    In the next chapter we will address the question whether Christ or Paul changed the observance of the Passover as commanded in Exodus to using only the unleavened bread and wine symbols as practiced by most christian churches in the world. Continue to read the next chapter titled "Did Christ or Paul Change the Observance of Passover?"




  Return to Table Contents