In Matthew 16, Christ talked about building His church and not even the forces of darkness could conquer it. All through the book of Acts, the days of the early local church, we see Christ’s protection and empowerment over it. It is the redeemed collected, enabled, and commissioned to become God’s agent for life change. When the church fulfills its purpose, there is fruit and profitability. But, when it diverts from the right pursuit, there is chaos and more problems than solutions arise. When there is health, the good and the beautiful reign. When there is an imbalance, the bad and the ugly prevail.
Legalism Over the Bible
Legalism puts conditions above the Gospel. It adds requirements for salvation beyond genuine faith in Christ’s finished work. It wearies believers with rules that wrongfully make Christian living a burden instead of a joy. Where there is legalism, conformity is the goal, not transformation. Where there is legalism, the local church breeds a congregation that lives for human standards and not God’s principles for righteousness. Where there is legalism, the authoritative voice is no longer the Holy Spirit but human leaders.
The church must remember to keep life simple. Our pursuits must be Agape love and true worship. James 1:27 says,
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Love Over Holiness
Lifeway Research came out with new survey results this April 2018. Data showed that churches nowadays rarely reprimand members and few discipline members for misconducts. Eight out of ten senior pastors have not disciplined a member in 2017. Half say they are not aware of any disciplinary actions taking place in 2017. From 1,000 phone calls made to senior pastors, only eight percent reported taking disciplinary measures on members for 2017. Half of the respondents also agree that there is no formal disciplinary process and policy in place.
The church must remember that church discipline, when done right, benefits the erring believer. The principles set forth in Matthew 18 must always apply. The focus is never to shame nor punish but always to restore the sinning Christian to rightness with God and man and to remind the congregation to pursue a life of holiness. Galatians 6:1 says,
“If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
Shallow and Impractical Teachings
It could be a sin for a preacher to bore God’s people with the preaching of the Word. It is certainly a sin for a Christian to sit through the preaching of God’s Word without receptivity. Hebrews 4:12 says, “God’s Word is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” 2 Timothy 3:16,17 say,
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“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”