Does THE Church Need to Be Purified?

March 29, 2010 at 9:31 PM

Feeling terrible about yourself? Good...

UPDATEMarch 31, 2010 – Since it MAY appear as though I am referring to individual local bodies of believers, I would like to clarify this BLOG.  When I refer to the Church throughout this particular post, I am referring to CHRIST’S BODY, the INVISIBLE Church.  I am NOT necessarily referring to individual bodies of believers, which contain TARES and WHEAT.  This particular post is specifically addressing the subject of whether Christ’s BODY (the INVISIBLE CHURCH) can become IMPURE, or CORRUPT.  My position on this is that it CANNOT.  My sin – done in the flesh – does NOT stain Jesus, OR His BODY.  My sin breaks fellowship with Him, until such a time as I confess my sin to Him, whereby fellowship is restored.  As you read through this post, please keep this in mind.  Thank you.

I have grown tired of all the calls that are bandied about that the Church is corrupt, filled with sin and in need of some good ol’ purification.  Many believe that the coming persecution (or make that the growing persecution) is designed by God to create this purification of Christ’s Body, His Church.

I have a huge problem with that line of reasoning.  Aside from this, Paul tells me in the book of Romans that I am:

  • justified
  • righteous
  • glorified
  • being sanctified

The problem as I see it, is that those who consistently mix Israel and the Church believe that just as God had to purify Israel in the Old Testament numerous times, He must do the same thing to the Church.  The difficulty though is that God always dealt with Israel as a nation.  In other words, when there was a problem in the camp of the Israelites, the entire nation suffered.

For instance, in Numbers 14, we are familiar with the situation in which many individuals in the camp of Israel complained against Moses because of the report of the 12 spies.  Ten of them did not believe the Lord.  Why?  Because they were rebels.  They did not have God’s heart.  They were in unbelief and had never believed the Lord.  While they enjoyed the bounty of God’s provision time and time again, they resolutely refused to acquiese to His reign.  They went along for the ride with an unbelieving heart.  It was because of this, that they were unable to believe that God would give them the victory.  They had no ability to do that because they lived in unbelief.

Two of the spies – Joshua and Caleb – believed that the Promised Land could be taken because God would give the victory.  This did not matter to the people because they became convinced (or at least did not argue) by the complainers.  It was because of this that God denied the entire camp access to the Promised Land, even though not all people sided with the complainers.  Nonetheless, the entire camp wandered for 40 years until every last man of that generation who had complained against God died in the wilderness.  When Israel did finally enter the Land, Joshua and Caleb were there with them.

In Joshua 7:1-15, we read of the sin of one man, which caused the entire camp to suffer for it.  Despite the command not to take any spoils of war, Achan takes a few items and hides them in his tent, unbeknownst to Joshua or anyone else in the camp.  The camp wound up losing their battle against Ai because of this sin.

Please note the very first verse of Joshua 7, which states, “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.

Note that in this verse, God holds the entire nation of Israel guilty, even though it was one man – Achan – who committed the trespass.  The full camp suffered the loss and was on the receiving end of God’s anger.  Eventually, after the loss, Joshua rent his clothes and sought the Lord.  Joshua spent all day with his face before the Lord, beseeching the Lord for an answer.  Eventually, God responds with this:  “Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?” (v. 10b)  God continued saying, “Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.” (v. 11)

Do you see how God holds the entire camp of Israel responsible for what one individual did?  This is not the case with the Church for any number of reasons and the idea that the Church needs to be purified is an insidious form of false-piety.  In other words, what is ultimately being stated is that Christ’s blood sacrifice was not good enough to cleanse His Bride, therefore we as Christians, need to help Christ by rending our clothes, sitting in ashes dressed in sackcloth, and we must be willing to beat ourselves up emotionally, in spite of the fact that Christ does  not.  We need to spend time extended periods of time on our knees repenting of the many things that have apparently kept God from blessing us.

What I have found is that the majority of people who espouse this seem to be Covenant or Reformed individuals.  They fall into this trap because of their inability to see a difference between the nation of Israel and the Church.  In spite of the fact that my sin – past, present, and future – has not only been forgiven, but is completely gone, too many people believe that those within the (visible) Church are corrupt and therefore, have corrupted the (invisible) Church.  This is insane!  The only thing my sin can do is break any fellowship that I might be enjoying with God!

Let me be exceedingly clear here so that there is no misunderstanding.  I am to NEVER have a laissez-faire attitude about my own personal sin, for it was that sin that put Jesus Christ on the cross.  Because of that, I am to see my sin as reprehensible because of what it prompted God to do for me.

I can never look at my sin as if it is no big deal, because it is a big deal.  It is nothing short of lawlessness.  It is allowing Self to be glorified, instead of God, who deserves ALL the glory.  Whenever I sin – either knowingly or unknowingly – God is grieved.  At that instant, the fellowship that I enjoy with Him is temporarily placed on hold, until I confess my sin, sincerely from the heart.  It is at that point, that God applies His forgiveness to me, and once again, fellowship is reestablished.  This continues until I sin again.  This is the unfortunate aspect of being a Christian who continues to retain the sin nature (which is ALL believers). Though God has given me a completely new nature, which has made me a new creation, my in nature is ever-present.  Because it is ever-present within me, it continues to try to force me to do what I do not want to do.  It is because of this situation that sin is always at the door, always seeking its way, and always trying to get me to do with it wants me to do, instead of what God wants me to do.

Even in spite of this, we are referred to as “saints” throughout the New Testament epistles from Paul, Peter and others.  The first chapter of Ephesians explains that we were chosen to be holy.  If this is read wrongly, it will be taken to mean that there is a choice made by us – to be holy or not to be holy.  The reality is that as authentic Chrisians, we already are holy.  Why?  Because the new spirit that God has placed within me is holy and completely sinless.  That new spirit within me can never sin.  However, I can choose to follow the dictates of my sin nature, thereby commiting sin.  Though I commit sin, the new creation that God has made me does not sin.  This is exactly why Paul can say in all truthfulness that “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:5-6).

He also teaches this to us in the book of Romans.  When we become Christians, we are baptized into HIS Body.  How is it possible for His Body to become contaiminated by sin?  It is impossible.  The new spirit that God placed within me is already seated with Christ in the heavenlies.  It is incapable of sinning, yet as I have CLEARLY stated, in my flesh, I can and do follow the dictates of my sin nature from time to time.  But my sinful flesh is NOT part of Christ’s Body.  It is the flesh, which means it IS corrupt, dying, and WILL die.  The new spirit that God gave me will NEVER die.

Based on this, how is it possible that the Church can ever be considered UNPURE?  To believe that is to believe that Christ’s sacrifice was not good enough, that His Blood could not cleanse completely, and that as believers who are still able to sin, we are capable of making Christ’s Body impure.  This is so far off base that it is difficult to not react in annoyance or anger, or to remain emotionally detached from this error.

The people who clamor for, yell for, and demand that we as believers need to spend time on our knees in repentance, pleading with God to forgive us (something He has already done), do not – in my opinion – understand the doctrine of eternal security, or unmerited grace, or salvation through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone, though they SAY they do.  I also believe that these same individuals are constantly confusing TARES with WHEAT.  They see the TARES in the visible Church and they believe that because of that, the visible Church needs to purify itself.  This is a joke, because the TARES are not part of the invisible Church (which is Christ’s true BRIDE).

Believers are required to keep a very short list of sins.  As the Holy Spirit brings our individual sin to our attention, we are to immediately agree and confess our sin, not with our lips, but from the heart.  We should never want to sin, or ever believe that “small” sins are okay with God.  We should never wink at sin, nor take our standing before Christ for granted.  Sin is sin and it is NEVER acceptable to God!  I cannot make that any clearer.

However, we as Christians, unlike what some evangelists teach, do not need to wallow in morose feelings for ourselves over our sin.  The natural tendency of fallen human beings is to either think that sin is not a big deal, or we fall into the trap of believing that unless we feel terrible, and unless we beat ourselves up emotionally (or even physically!), we have not truly repented.  This borders on heresy in my opinion, because it attempts to add to the existing purifying reality of salvation.

All authentic believers understand that salvation cannot be earned, yet too many have fallen into the mistake of believing that we must work to maintain our salvation, as if God is incapable of doing that Himself.  Folks, the fact is that if we have to help God maintain our salvation, then we do not actually have salvation at all.

Yes, I am obligated to confess my sin.  I am also obligated to keep my eyes on Jesus.  Focusing on my sin takes my eyes off of Jesus and puts them squarely on me, where they do not belong.

We read in 1 John 3:3-4, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

So what is it that actually purifies the believer?  Beyond this, what exactly does it mean to purify ourselves?  Does it not seem clear that when we have our thoughts on Jesus, we cannot be thinking of fulfilling the sin nature’s demands?  The two are incompatible.  We cannot be focusing on Jesus while at the same time, focusing on ways to fulfill the desires of the flesh.  It is impossible.  It is the focusing on Jesus that causes purity of thought, word, and deed.

Focusing on how terrible I am, how worthless I am, how much of a worm I am, is nothing but self-aggrandizement, in the guise of externalized religious piety.  That does absolutely no good.  In fact, what it does is create a false sense of spiritual maturity, born of pride. Yes, while we come to believe that we are growing in our faith, because we think of ourselves as scum, all we are doing is spending time endorsing the evil inherent in the sin nature and the flesh.

If we truly believed that Christ’s redemption was all in all, and that He is the Author and Perfector of our faith, we would not be trying so hard to drum up feelings of worthlessness within ourselves.  Instead, we would be determined to focus on Him, and His life within us.  Doing this does more to bring about spiritual maturity than wallowing in the false sense of worthlessness that comes by focusing on self.

God has freed me from the Law of sin and death.  He lives within me and because of that, I can overcome sin.  Because I will never do it perfectly in this life, does not negate the fact that I am a Christian, nor does it somehow sully Christ or His Bride.  That is absurd, and the quicker believers get to the point of realizing that beating ourselves up is wrong, because it denies the full efficacy of Christ’s redemption, the quicker we begin focusing on the reality of our new birth and His presence within us. It is nothing but a form of godliness without the power.

As a final point, remember this from 1 John 3: “but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him“?  What does THAT statement mean?  Doesn’t it mean that when I die, I will INSTANTLY become as He is?  If so, then that means that in the instant my soul leaves my body and stands before Him, I will become like Him.  Funny, but John does not say that we have to repent and become filled with morose feelings.  He says we will BE like Him.  In other words, it will happen apart from us.  It will happen because HE MAKES IT HAPPEN.

Christians need to listen and understand that truth.  There is a huge difference between TARES and WHEAT.  The TARES will NEVER be believers (WHEAT), and the WHEAT will NEVER be TARES (unbelieving frauds).

We canNOT see the invisible Church.  We can only see the VISIBLE Church, and that includes all the professing Christians, along with the TARES.  It is the INVISIBLE Church that consists only of WHEAT; no TARES, no professing Christian, just WHEAT.

While some Christians firmly believe that persecution is what cleanses and purifies the Church, I disagree vehemently.  It is NOT persecution which purifies the Church because the Church is already pure.  What persecution DOES is separate the sheep from the goats.  The TARES cannot handle persecution, while the WHEAT cannot nor will not run from it.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, dispensationalism, Religious - Christian - Prophecy. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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