MATCHING TODAY’S SITUATION IN CHRISTIANITY
The situation today in Christianity is exactly the same. Although the Christians in their standing are God’s elect, they have become rebels against God. Instead of being a vine, they have become briars. Instead of being a bride, they have become a harlot. Do you believe that today’s Christianity is a bride? According to Revelation 17 and 18, Christianity is not a bride, but a great harlot with many daughter harlots. She is altogether a whoredom. Neither are they a flock producing milk and wool and meat for others to enjoy. Rather, most Christians are scorpions stinging others, fighting, and quarreling. Finally, although a few Christians today may be a treasure to the Lord, most have become dross.
THE REASONS FOR THE DEGRADATION
How could such a wonderful people who were God’s elect, God’s vine, God’s Bride, God’s flock, and God’s treasure become the rebels, the thorns, the scorpions, the whore, and the dross? The first reason for the degradation was their idolatry. Do not consider that idols are always physical images—idols are any substitutes we have for God. Whatever we love more than the Lord is an idol. A scholarship can be an idol; education can be an idol; money can be an idol; a wife, a husband, or children can be an idol. A particular style of dressing, whether it is a loose style of dressing, or a formal style of dressing, can be an idol. Whatever is more important to us than the Lord is an idol. The fall and degradation of Israel was first of all due to their idolatry.
In the New Testament, the degradation of the churches began with the loss of their first love to the Lord (Rev. 2:4). If you do not love the Lord as much as you did when you were saved, it indicates you have an idol. Whatever you love more than you love the Lord is your idol. Thus, the cause of the degradation in Israel and the cause of the degradation in the church is exactly the same.
The people of Israel worshipped idols as a substitute for God. Today most Christians have lost their first love. They love their mission work, their membership, their young people’s work, their Bible studies, or their gospel work more than the Lord Himself.
Dr. A. W. Tozer, late founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, once said that if Jesus came into a conference of Christian leaders they would not recognize Him. Though they would be discussing their work for Jesus, if He were to come in, they would not know Him. His observation indicates that Christianity loves many things other than the Lord Jesus Himself. The Lord Jesus said that the church at Ephesus had many good works, yet He had something against them. They had lost their first love for Him (Rev. 2:4). This indicates they had some idols.
Association with the World
Idols always bring people into association with the world. The people of Israel accepted the idols and through them were brought into contact with all the heathen nations. This indicates that as long as we have something within us as a substitute for the Lord, we will be associated with the world. Anything we love more than the Lord, whether money, education, a degree, a good job, a good automobile, a good house, a good living, or even a good husband, or a good wife will lead us into worldliness. Anything that we love more than the Lord Jesus will lead us into worldliness.
Walking After the Manner of the Heathen
Once the people of Israel were associated with the heathen nations, they began to walk after their manners and customs. They followed the nations. These three items are the main causes of the fall and degradation of Christianity: loving something more than the Lord Jesus, association with the world, and walking after the manner of the heathen.
I am very happy that you are in the Lord’s recovery today, but I am concerned that some of you may still have an idol within you, that you may still be associated with the world, and that in your daily walk, in your way of living, you are still after the manner of the heathen. You should not be for the loose style or for the formal style. Do not pattern your life after any unbelievers. You should not say that you care only for the inner life, not for the outward appearance. We need a proper outward appearance. The way we live, the way we spend our money, and the way we dress must not be after the manner of the nations. Because we are a holy people, we must be different. It was by these three things: idolatry, association with the nations, and walking after the manner of the heathen that the people of Israel were corrupted.
(The Visions of Ezekiel, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)