We understand that the English word “church” (Greek: ekklesia) is NOT referring to a building that people meet in, but is believers as a whole (When used as a noun, with the article “the” preceding it), or as a local assembly of believers.
This is what is seen in the meaning of the Greek word “ekklesia” meaning “a calling out,” or “assembly;” which has been commonly translated into the English word “church.”
This article “Problems in the Church-part 2…”, actually addresses the problems within the church because of the problems within the lives of the individual believers who make up the church.
The problem is bad choices made because of a lack of spiritual discernment
Discernment simply means judgment, and refers to the ability to adequately determine whether something is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, necessary or unnecessary, desirable or undesirable, or within our own Christian point of view, evil or godly.
A secular point of view is reflected by Merriam-Webster, which defines judgment as:
- an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought
- the act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought : the act of judging something or someone
- the ability to make good decisions about what should be done
However you define the word “judgment” it is aI necessary part of daily life wherein not only the quality of life is determined, but even the existence of life can be the outcome.
Experience in Developing Greater Discernment
It is the lack of proper judgment that leads to all kinds of problems within life, though there is an aspect of proper judgment that it is gained through experience; which is reflected in the old adage:
“Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions”
And though this is true concerning many things in life, for the believer the Bible is our necessary tool concerning that which is good; and therefore the proper choices to be made within the decisions of our everyday life.
Part 2 – A Lack of Discernment in Believers / The Church
In this second part of a two-part series regarding the “Problems within the Church,” we will examine why current individuals who make up the church appear to make so many unbiblical and ungodly choices, wherein a complete lack of discernment is displayed more and more each day.
The Source of Godly Judgment
The Bible gives us a formula for the development of proper Biblical judgment, which if neglected, biblical judgment is forsaken; and believers fall into a cascading life of spiritual immaturity, followed by a sin filled existence, and even spiritual pride; as witnessed by the religious leaders of Jesus day.
Perhaps one of the most important, as well sophisticated passages that addresses the application of proper judgment (Or “discernment”, which unfortunately is a more user-friendly word for most of use) is found in a formula form in Hebrews 5:11-14, which states:
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
First, we should note that the writer states that in spite of his desire to press on and teach the weightier issues of God’s Word, he cannot because they are “dull of hearing.”
He goes on to state that in spite of the amount of time that they have been believers, in which they should be “teachers” by now, they haven’t even began to understand the elementary “principles” and doctrines of God’s Word, which he refers to as “milk,” that they are unable to metabolize whole food, the more deeper issues presented in God’s Word.
Discernment & Spiritual Growth
What a pathetic picture the author draws, that of believers who should be spiritual adults, yet spiritually immature believers unable to dig deeper into God’s Word; not because they have not heard the teachings, not because there’s not been a teacher to explain it, not because there is a lack of ability to perceive what is stated cognitively; but because of their lack of exercising proper judgment concerning what is good and evil.
This is the formula – In order to grow spiritually, a believer must exercise judgment over what is good and evil – that’s it.
Yet, what we see currently is that if believers refuse to exercise proper judgment, not only does sin dominate in the circumstances of their life, but they do not grow spiritually; in gaining insights into the deeper truths of God, and in developing the “mind of Christ“ (Philippians 2:5-9, the humility of Christ), wherein they can “be renewed in the spirit of your mind“ (Ephesians 4:20-32, putting off the corruption of the old man); and submit to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; with the outcome of an inability to comprehend the things that please the Father concerning His will – Yet for all of this to become possible they must exercise proper biblical judgment; OR as the writer of Hebrews states, they never gain the ability to digest the meat of the word, only able to subside on milk.
In the same way that faith is like a muscle and must be stretched and used in order to grow (See Endnote #1) , the same principle is true concerning Spiritual growth, wherein the muscle spirituality must be stretched by using judgment and discernment concerning the difference between what is good and what is evil.
It’s like a baby that does not practice crawling, can never achieve the muscle necessary for standing.
What is unfortunate is that the lack of ability to judge is created because of a lack of desire to use it.
The Last Days Are Coming
You see the spiral downfall that the Bible talked about regarding the End of Days, referred to as the “last days;” this is why no one can stop it.
For in the future, after the Rapture of the church occurs, and He (the Holy Spirit) who restrains evil, that indwells within believers (“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” ~ John 14:17; Eph. 1:13) will be taken out-of-the-way (literal Greek translation: “For the mystery of lawlessness already is working, only he is holding back now, until it comes out of the midst.” ~ 2 Thess. 2:7); the only way to stop evil will be when Jesus Christ returns to earth with His bride – His believers (Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 3:13: Jude 1:14; Rev.19:14),; this is how this downward roller coaster to hell will be stopped.
Yet the point of this article is that we as individual believers must again be willing to suffer for what we believe by calling evil, evil.
By being willing to stand out and oppose the liberals and progressives of this world that are bound by their leader Satan, who will lead them into hell.
Remember Jesus words to the Seven Churches, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev 3:22)
In fact perhaps we need to read about the last church of the Seven Churches of Revelation, symbolic of the last church prior to the return of Jesus:
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev 3:14-21)
What you’ll notice here is that Jesus is not inside the church, is outside knocking on the door – and not the door of the church, the door of the heart of the individual.
This church has become so emasculated that Jesus takes His message to the individual, “to him that overcome,” not to the church itself; because it is so powerless that it is just a few individuals within it who are fulfilling His Will.
It is you and I that must have the courage to call evil – evil, and good – good.
Faith – Faith to Stand Up and Judge
What we should also notice is that while they think that they are rich because they prosper, Jesus advises them to buy gold tried in fire; which is a synonym for holding faith under persecution – remember the Bible has but One Author, rather it is Jesus speaking the book of Revelation, or the writers of the New Testament; there is a connection between each book of the Bible as is seen when Peter declares:
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ“ (1 Pet. 1:7)
Remember what the Old Testament prophet stated concerning the last days (Isaiah starts addressing the last days in the chapter prior to this one, and continues with these passages)
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa 5:20)
It is up to each individual Christian believer to choose to exercise proper biblical discernment concerning that which is evil and that which is good if he truly desires to grow spiritually – this judgment must be started with ourselves – have we become lukewarm?
Have we learned to rationalize the sin around us without calling it evil.
Are we polluted by this world because we have become part of them (See Endnote #2) – we are all guilty of this and the three fingers pointing back at me make me feel very uncomfortable as we all have learned to keep our mouths shut, and to allow evil to prosper.
One Example of God’s Demand for Believers to Judge
We must remember what Paul told the church of Corinth, which of all the New Testament churches, may be closest to our own (See Endnote #3).
I Corinthians 11:31, states:
“For if we would judge [Greek: diakrino] ourselves, we should not be judged [Greek: krino].”
The first word for “judge”, diakrino, means to separate thoroughly, to withdraw from, to discriminate, or decide; depending on the grammatical breakdown.
The second word for judge, krino according to its grammar means to condemn.
Therefore, we understand that this is passage is stating that,
“if we would discern ourselves; with the implied intent of change, we would not be subject to ultimate condemnation.”
This is what is to take place within the life of the believer according to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Deception – Warning
Also, without judgment we have no ability to perceive danger when it is present.
This is why Jesus spoke so often (Mat. 24:4,5,11,24; Mark 13:5,6; Luke 21:8) about deception to His followers (Believers – Christians – saved), which He would not have done if it were not possible for them to be deceived.
The only protection against deception is God’s Word and its application as seen in proper Biblical judgment.
Paul and others also warned us concerning deception as recorded in: John 7:24; Acts 20:28; Romans 16:18; I Corinthians 3:18; 5:1-13; 6:9; 15:33; Galatians 1:6-9; 6:3,7; Ephesians 4:14; 5:6; 5:11; II Thessalonians 2:3,10; 3:6; 3:14-15; Titus 1:10-16; II Timothy 2:15; 3:5-7; Hebrews 5:14, James 1:22,26; II Peter 2:14; I John 1:5, 8; 3:7; 4:1; II John 1:6-9; as well as the seven times that the word “deceive” is used concerning the Devil in the book of Revelation.
There are dozens of Scriptures which demand that believers exercise judgment – for a much more thorough examination of the subject of discernment and judgment please see the built in link in: “Judging ~ Church Discipline ~ Forgiveness & Turning the Cheek.”
What we must keep in mind is that these references are exclusively to believers, it is the believers that can be deceived when they refuse to stand firmly on God’s Word and judge according to what God has said.
There is a real connection between:
Spiritual perception, the understanding of God’s Word, and most of all Spiritual growth
The habitual use in exercising judgment in regards to good and evil.
1. The Process of Faith
Faith only grows when it is stretched by tribulations (Problems, hard times, difficulties, calamities, trials, and testing; they’re all synonymous concerning the “trying of our faith”). Faith can only grow incrementally, as more and more is demanded of it. This is because trust is a process contingent upon experience, as someone proves they are trustworthy situation after situation, we trust them more and more. This is why Romans 10:17 states: “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The basis of biblical faith is to be found in the examination of God’s word and the track record that God never fails and is therefore trustworthy as well as righteous in fulfilling all he is said – we can anchor our souls to what God has said with no hesitation, incomplete faith and trust in Him.
In this way faith is analogous to a muscle which must be torn before growth can occur. And each time that the muscle of faith is torn, new attendance and muscle grows increasing the size and strength of the muscle – so by analogy faith cannot grow without being torn or placed within tribulation. Therefore, we must always realize and therefore understand that testing is not done as a process whereby God attempts to validate the existence of our faith, or its degree, This is not what the word “trial” in the Greek means. Which might appear cruel on the surface, wherein many people think of God as tempting them and placing them in trials – understanding that God can see the future and knows when we will fail and when we will not – this is not what the word “trial” means. The word trials means the proving of a substance, not that it exists; but that it strengthens the substance as in the field of metallurgy where gold which is taken out of the earth with impurities is placed in fire to have the impurities burned off – the fire is synonymous with the problems and difficulties, the tribulations that we go through as believers.
It is these tribulations that stretch our faith, whereas each time God shows Himself to be faithful to us and trustworthy, we gain greater faith in Him and His ability to handle every problem in our life. Faith is not meant solely as a means of petition or getting what we want. Faith is trusting God that He is in total control, especially when it doesn’t look like it. Without trials – purification you cannot grow faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith must be included in anything, and everything we do in order to please God. Jesus always pleased the Father. On three occasions (When Jesus was baptized, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and at the Triumphal Entry) you will find that when God speaks from heaven, and two of the instances speaks about how Jesus pleases Him, and on the third occasion, at Jesus’ crucifixion concludes by stating that God the Father used Jesus to glorify the Father, and that God will glorify Himself by the resurrection of Jesus. A defining value of Christ was that he “only did those things that please the Father.” Meaning that everything Christ did involved total faith that the Father was in complete control of the destiny of His life, even the fact of being tortured and murdered for the sins of the world. Christ knew that this was the will of the Father and He had faith in God, not to spare Him from this, but that the Father would resurrect Him as He fulfilled all righteousness ~ James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:12.
2. Christian idolatry can be seen when believers: “Worship Their Work, Work at Their Play, and Play at Their Worship.”
3. The church of Corinth displayed such poor judgment that it had allowed incest (be it with step-parent of otherwise, this is sick!) to be accepted openly, as well as believers defrauding other believers financially, their preoccupation with mysticism, along with signs and wonders in place of gifts of the Spirit, where the supper of the Lord was abused in drunkenness and gluttony, while others went hungry. Where selfishness became the norm to the extent that Paul worked a full-time job to support himself as well as the Ministry (which he later regretted because it added to their spiritual immaturity) no doubt exhibiting their lack of financial support in spite of the fact that they were very affluent. Yet, in a close examination it becomes apparent that all of this existed because of their lack of and refusal to exercise proper judgment according to the mind of Christ. They were a very worldly church that refused to judge and intervene according to the church discipline (As Jesus instructed us in Matthew 18:15-17).